How to format your references using the Nature Protocols citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Nature Protocols. 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
Smaglik, P. A chemical imbalance. Nature 418, 3 (2002).
A journal article with 2 authors
Karp, X. & Ambros, V. Developmental biology. Encountering microRNAs in cell fate signaling. Science 310, 1288–1289 (2005).
A journal article with 3 authors
Marshall, C. H., Pielke, R. A., Sr & Steyaert, L. T. Wetlands: crop freezes and land-use change in Florida. Nature 426, 29–30 (2003).
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Tahirov, T. H. et al. Structure of a T7 RNA polymerase elongation complex at 2.9 A resolution. Nature 420, 43–50 (2002).

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Maloberti, F. Understanding Microelectronics. (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2011).
An edited book
Ghosh, A. Introduction to Micromechanisms and Microactuators. vol. 28 (Springer India, 2015).
A chapter in an edited book
Ryabov, V. V., Shevko, A. Y. & Gora, M. P. Basalt Magma Differentiation as a Source of Variety in Traps. in Trap Magmatism and Ore Formation in the Siberian Noril’sk Region: Volume 1. Trap Petrology (eds. Shevko, A. Y. & Gora, M. P.) 275–328 (Springer Netherlands, 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 Protocols.

Blog post
Andrew, E. Photographer and Leopard Seal Come Face-to-Face. IFLScience (2014).


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. Intelligence Programs: New RC-135 Aircraft Engines Can Reduce Cost and Improve Performance. (1992).

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Mier, L. M. Monitoring Electron Transfer Reactions using Ultrafast UV-Visible and Infrared Spectroscopy. (Ohio State University, 2012).

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
de la MERCED, M. J. Looking to Bulk Up Sprint, SoftBank Is Casting an Eye on Charter. New York Times B1 (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 Protocols
AbbreviationNat. Protoc.
ISSN (print)1754-2189
ISSN (online)1750-2799
ScopeGeneral Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology

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