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
O’Keeffe, M. Edge effects. Nature 419, 28–29 (2002).
A journal article with 2 authors
Karpicke, J. D. & Blunt, J. R. Retrieval practice produces more learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. Science 331, 772–775 (2011).
A journal article with 3 authors
Parr, B. T., Economou, C. & Herzon, S. B. A concise synthesis of (+)-batzelladine B from simple pyrrole-based starting materials. Nature 525, 507–510 (2015).
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Schumacher, M. A., Rivard, A. F., Bächinger, H. P. & Adelman, J. P. Structure of the gating domain of a Ca2+-activated K+ channel complexed with Ca2+/calmodulin. Nature 410, 1120–1124 (2001).

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Collings, S. Interpretation and Application of UK GAAP. (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2015).
An edited book
Social Theory and Social Movements: Mutual Inspirations. (Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 2016).
A chapter in an edited book
Dinerstein, A. C. Denaturalising Society: Concrete Utopia and the Prefigurative Critique of Political Economy. in Social Sciences for an Other Politics: Women Theorizing Without Parachutes (ed. Dinerstein, A. C.) 49–62 (Springer International Publishing, 2016).

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. Rats Recognize Expressions Of Pain. IFLScience (2015).


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. Unemployment Insurance: Various Factors Affect Head Start and Other Early Childhood Teachers’ Eligibility for Benefits. (2016).

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Freund, S. H. The Relationship of Academic Courses to Skills Required Of Automobile Repair Technicians. (Lindenwood University, 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
Wagner, J. Lugo, Paying No Mind to His Elbow, Earns Dividends. New York Times D5 (2017).

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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