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
Bloom BR. 2011. WHO needs change. Nature 473:143–145.
A journal article with 2 authors
Percec I, Bartolomei MS. 2002. Genetics. Do X chromosomes set boundaries? Science 295:287–288.
A journal article with 3 authors
Bichot NP, Rossi AF, Desimone R. 2005. Parallel and serial neural mechanisms for visual search in macaque area V4. Science 308:529–534.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Paragi Z, Taylor GB, Kouveliotou C, Granot J, Ramirez-Ruiz E, Bietenholz M, van der Horst AJ, Pidopryhora Y, van Langevelde HJ, Garrett MA, Szomoru A, Argo MK, Bourke S, Paczyński B. 2010. A mildly relativistic radio jet from the otherwise normal type Ic supernova 2007gr. Nature 463:516–518.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Chowdhury D, Stauffer D. 2005. Principles of Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, FRG.
An edited book
2005. Biotechnology for Odor and Air Pollution Control. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
A chapter in an edited book
Cazaux B, Sacomoto G, Rivals E. 2016. Superstring Graph: A New Approach for Genome Assembly, p. 39–52. In Dondi, R, Fertin, G, Mauri, G (eds.), Algorithmic Aspects in Information and Management: 11th International Conference, AAIM 2016, Bergamo, Italy, July 18-20, 2016, Proceedings. 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
Carpineti A. 2017. Amazing Finding Of Dunes On Rosetta’s Comet. IFLScience. IFLScience. Retrieved 30 October 2018.


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. 1988. Command and Control: Upgrades Allow Deferral of $500 Million Computer Acquisition. IMTEC-88-10. 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
Verdi KC. 2017. What Does It Mean to Be a Service-Learning Teacher? - An Autoethnography. Doctoral dissertation. University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.

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
Schmidt MS. 2013. Car Chase, White House To Capitol, Has Fatal End. 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