How to format your references using the mSystems citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for mSystems. For a complete guide how to prepare your manuscript refer to the journal's instructions to authors.

Using reference management software

Typically you don't format your citations and bibliography by hand. The easiest way is to use a reference manager:

PaperpileThe citation style is built in and you can choose it in Settings > Citation Style or Paperpile > Citation Style in Google Docs.
EndNoteDownload the output style file
Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, and othersThe style is either built in or you can download a CSL file that is supported by most references management programs.
BibTeXBibTeX syles are usually part of a LaTeX template. Check the instructions to authors if the publisher offers a LaTeX template for this journal.

Journal articles

Those examples are references to articles in scholarly journals and how they are supposed to appear in your bibliography.

Not all journals organize their published articles in volumes and issues, so these fields are optional. Some electronic journals do not provide a page range, but instead list an article identifier. In a case like this it's safe to use the article identifier instead of the page range.

A journal article with 1 author
Cyranoski D. 2003. Biologist gets minimum sentence in “espionage” case. Nature 423:575.
A journal article with 2 authors
Segers VFM, Lee RT. 2008. Stem-cell therapy for cardiac disease. Nature 451:937–942.
A journal article with 3 authors
Zhu G, Golding GB, Dean AM. 2005. The selective cause of an ancient adaptation. Science 307:1279–1282.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Rini M, Magnes B-Z, Pines E, Nibbering ETJ. 2003. Real-time observation of bimodal proton transfer in acid-base pairs in water. Science 301:349–352.

Books and book chapters

Here are examples of references for authored and edited books as well as book chapters.

An authored book
Shore SN. 2005. The Tapestry of Modern Astrophysics. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, FRG.
An edited book
2016. Cooperative Design, Visualization, and Engineering: 13th International Conference, CDVE 2016, Sydney, NSW, Australia, October 24–27, 2016, Proceedings. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
A chapter in an edited book
Marzin J, Daviron B, Rafflegeau S. 2015. Family Farming and Other Forms of Agriculture, p. 71–89. In Sourisseau, J-M (ed.), Family Farming and the Worlds to Come. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht.

Web sites

Sometimes references to web sites should appear directly in the text rather than in the bibliography. Refer to the Instructions to authors for mSystems.

Blog post
Andrew E. 2015. Exxon Knew About Climate Change In 1981 – And Covered It Up. IFLScience. IFLScience.


This example shows the general structure used for government reports, technical reports, and scientific reports. If you can't locate the report number then it might be better to cite the report as a book. For reports it is usually not individual people that are credited as authors, but a governmental department or agency like "U. S. Food and Drug Administration" or "National Cancer Institute".

Government report
Government Accountability Office. 1992. Composite Health Care System: Outpatient Capability Is Nearly Ready for Worldwide Deployment. IMTEC-93-11. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Robinson EA. 2012. Exploring the Barriers to Online-Business Profitability for Small Business. Doctoral dissertation, Northcentral University, Scottsdale, AZ.

News paper articles

Unlike scholarly journals, news papers do not usually have a volume and issue number. Instead, the full date and page number is required for a correct reference.

New York Times article
Cowen T. 2015. How a Marriage of Equals May Promote Inequality. New York Times.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (1).
This sentence cites two references (1, 2).
This sentence cites four references (1–4).

About the journal

Full journal titlemSystems
ISSN (online)2379-5077

Other styles