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
Boyle E. 2002. Oceanography. Oceanic salt switch. Science 298:1724–1725.
A journal article with 2 authors
Libuda DE, Winston F. 2006. Amplification of histone genes by circular chromosome formation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Nature 443:1003–1007.
A journal article with 3 authors
Woodward JJ, Iavarone AT, Portnoy DA. 2010. c-di-AMP secreted by intracellular Listeria monocytogenes activates a host type I interferon response. Science 328:1703–1705.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Condon MA, Scheffer SJ, Lewis ML, Swensen SM. 2008. Hidden neotropical diversity: greater than the sum of its parts. Science 320:928–931.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Cannon DL. 2016. CISA®. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana.
An edited book
2008. The Downy Mildews - Genetics, Molecular Biology and Control. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht.
A chapter in an edited book
Silva Filho WJ. 2015. Intersubjectivity: Commentary on Intersubjectivity, p. 65–72. In Marsico, G (ed.), Jerome S. Bruner beyond 100: Cultivating Possibilities. Springer International Publishing, Cham.

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. Remote-Controlled Cyborg Cockroaches Could Save Lives. 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. 2008. Environmental Satellites: Polar-orbiting Satellite Acquisition Faces Delays; Decisions Needed on Whether and How to Ensure Climate Data Continuity. GAO-08-518. 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
Borisova-Kidder A. 2006. Meta-Analytical Estimates of Values of Environmental Services Enhanced by Government Agricultural Conservation Programs. Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

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
Mallozzi VM. 2017. For a Bride’s Dying Father, a Wedding Built in 24 Hours. 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