How to format your references using the Open Biology citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Open Biology. 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
Nibbering ETJ. 2014 Imaging techniques. Low-energy electron diffraction at ultrafast speeds. Science 345, 137–138.
A journal article with 2 authors
Young LJ, Barrett CE. 2015 Neuroscience. Can oxytocin treat autism? Science 347, 825–826.
A journal article with 3 authors
Su Z, Huang W, Gu X. 2011 Comment on ‘Positive selection of tyrosine loss in metazoan evolution’. Science 332, 917; author reply 917.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Drinnenberg IA, Weinberg DE, Xie KT, Mower JP, Wolfe KH, Fink GR, Bartel DP. 2009 RNAi in budding yeast. Science 326, 544–550.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Bernatz RA. 2010 Fourier Series and Numerical Methods for Partial Differential Equations. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Rosenberg E, Gophna U, editors. 2011 Beneficial Microorganisms in Multicellular Life Forms. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Ball JA, Groenewald G, Malakorn T. 2006 Conservative Structured Noncommutative Multidimensional Linear Systems. In The State Space Method Generalizations and Applications (eds D Alpay, I Gohberg), pp. 179–223. Basel: Birkhäuser.

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 Open Biology.

Blog post
Andrew E. 2013 Asteroid 2013 TV135: It’s Not Armageddon. IFLScience. See’s-not-armageddon/ (accessed on 30 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. 2012 Air Passenger Screening: Transportation Security Administration Could Improve Complaint Processes.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Thompson K. 2014 An Introduction to the Cox Proportional Hazards Model and Its Applications to Survival Analysis. Doctoral dissertation, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL.

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
Chira S. 2017 Jobs Men Don’t Want. New York Times, 24 June. , SR3.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in square brackets:

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 titleOpen Biology
AbbreviationOpen Biol.
ISSN (online)2046-2441

Other styles