How to format your references using the Nature Communications citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Nature Communications. 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
Schimel, D. S. Climate. Drylands in the Earth system. Science 327, 418–419 (2010).
A journal article with 2 authors
Kueh, H. Y. & Mitchison, T. J. Structural plasticity in actin and tubulin polymer dynamics. Science 325, 960–963 (2009).
A journal article with 3 authors
Geremia, J. M., Stockton, J. K. & Mabuchi, H. Real-time quantum feedback control of atomic spin-squeezing. Science 304, 270–273 (2004).
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Feely, R. A. et al. Impact of anthropogenic CO2 on the CaCO3 system in the oceans. Science 305, 362–366 (2004).

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Cannon, D. L. CISA®. (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016).
An edited book
PET/CT: Essentials for Clinical Practice. (Springer, 2006).
A chapter in an edited book
Cohen, J. A. & Rae-Grant, A. Treatment of acute relapses of multiple sclerosis. in Handbook of Multiple Sclerosis (ed. Rae-Grant, A.) 25–28 (Springer Healthcare Ltd., 2010).

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 Nature Communications.

Blog post
Andrew, E. Vanadium: The “Beautiful Metal’’ That Stores Energy”. IFLScience (2016). Available at: (Accessed: 30th 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. Battlefield Automation: Better Justification and Testing Needed for Common Computer Acquisition. (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987).

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Cervantes, I. Flexural retrofitting of reinforced concrete structures using Green Natural Fiber Reinforced Polymer plates. (California State University, Long Beach, 2013).

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
Baker, P. & Gordon, M. R. Kerry Becomes Chief Advocate For U.S. Attack. New York Times A1 (2013).

In-text citations

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

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 titleNature Communications
AbbreviationNat. Commun.
ISSN (online)2041-1723
ScopeGeneral Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
General Chemistry
General Physics and Astronomy

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