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
Spurgeon, D. Investing to compete. Ontario. Nature 425, 104–105 (2003).
A journal article with 2 authors
Green, P. & Ewing, B. Comment on ‘Evidence of abundant purifying selection in humans for recently acquired regulatory functions’. Science 340, 682 (2013).
A journal article with 3 authors
Qian, L., Winfree, E. & Bruck, J. Neural network computation with DNA strand displacement cascades. Nature 475, 368–372 (2011).
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Jensen, T. et al. Another phocine distemper outbreak in Europe. Science 297, 209 (2002).

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Myers, F. R. Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring. (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009).
An edited book
Robotic Radiosurgery. Treating Prostate Cancer and Related Genitourinary Applications. (Springer, 2012).
A chapter in an edited book
Girardi, D., Giretzlehner, M. & Küng, J. Using Generic Meta-Data-Models for Clustering Medical Data. in Information Technology in Bio- and Medical Informatics: Third International Conference, ITBAM 2012, Vienna, Austria, September 4-5, 2012. Proceedings (eds. Böhm, C., Khuri, S., Lhotská, L. & Renda, M. E.) 40–53 (Springer, 2012).

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
Fang, J. First Extraterrestrial Waves Ever Spotted On Titan. 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. Impoundments of Funds of Energy Research and Development Administration and Department of Commerce. (1977).

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Burnias, M. P. A qualitative study of familial factors that contribute to a positive coming out process. (Pepperdine University, 2014).

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
Cooper, M. A Personal Milestone For A.B.T.’s Fall Season. New York Times C3 (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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