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
Cyranoski, D. Japan sets sights on success in nanotechnology. Nature 408, 624 (2000).
A journal article with 2 authors
Rivera, L. B. & Bergers, G. Angiogenesis. Targeting vascular sprouts. Science 344, 1449–1450 (2014).
A journal article with 3 authors
Kaufman, T. C., Severson, D. W. & Robinson, G. E. The Anopheles genome and comparative insect genomics. Science 298, 97–98 (2002).
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Takehara, H. et al. Lab-on-a-brain: implantable micro-optical fluidic devices for neural cell analysis in vivo. Sci. Rep. 4, 6721 (2014).

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Plantin, J.-C. Participatory Mapping. (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2014).
An edited book
Robot Intelligence Technology and Applications 2012: An Edition of the Presented Papers from the 1st International Conference on Robot Intelligence Technology and Applications. vol. 208 (Springer, 2013).
A chapter in an edited book
Chela-Flores, J. Fluid Mechanics and Systems Biology for Understanding the Cosmic Distribution of Life: A Review. in Computational and Experimental Fluid Mechanics with Applications to Physics, Engineering and the Environment (eds. Sigalotti, L. D. G., Klapp, J. & Sira, E.) 107–120 (Springer International Publishing, 2014).

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, D. A Giant Lava Lamp Inside The Earth Might Be Flipping The Planet’s Magnetic Field. IFLScience (2017).


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. College Work-Study Program. (1975).

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Unison-Pace, W. J. Investigating generational differences of perceived uncivilized behaviors between students and faculty in nursing education. (Capella University, 2015).

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
Shear, M. D. & Alcindor, Y. Democrats on Tightrope In Immigration Debate. New York Times A13 (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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