How to format your references using the PeerJ citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for PeerJ. 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
Bunk S. 2002. Teaching science graduates to think business. Nature 417:4–5.
A journal article with 2 authors
Rodell CB, Burdick JA. 2014. Materials science: Radicals promote magnetic gel assembly. Nature 514:574–575.
A journal article with 3 authors
Lapointe CP, Mason TG, Smalyukh II. 2009. Shape-controlled colloidal interactions in nematic liquid crystals. Science (New York, N.Y.) 326:1083–1086.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Yu F, Hill RS, Schaffner SF, Sabeti PC, Wang ET, Mignault AA, Ferland RJ, Moyzis RK, Walsh CA, Reich D. 2007. Comment on “Ongoing adaptive evolution of ASPM, a brain size determinant in Homo sapiens.” Science (New York, N.Y.) 316:370.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Kerzner H, Belack C. 2010. Managing Complex Projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Galavotti MC, Nemeth E, Stadler F (eds.). 2014. European Philosophy of Science – Philosophy of Science in Europe and the Viennese Heritage. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
A chapter in an edited book
Santos LD, Martins I. 2013. The Monitoring System on Quality of Life of the City of Porto. In: Sirgy MJ, Phillips R, Rahtz D eds. Community Quality-of-Life Indicators: Best Cases VI. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 77–98.

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 PeerJ.

Blog post
Andrew E. 2015.How Neurosurgeons Can Now Look At Your Brain Through Your Eyes. Available at (accessed October 30, 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. 1994. Gray Market Vehicle Program: Extension Warranted, but Improvements in Vehicle Identification Are Needed. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Carter IM. 2015. The discourse of the divine: Radical traditions of Black feminism, musicking, and myth within the Black public sphere (Civil Rights to the present). Doctoral dissertation Thesis. Boca Raton, FL: Florida Atlantic University.

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
Quain JR. 2017. The Light-Sensing Technology Carmakers Are Clamoring For. New York Times:B5.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Bunk, 2002).
This sentence cites two references (Bunk, 2002; Rodell & Burdick, 2014).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Rodell & Burdick, 2014)
  • Three authors: (Lapointe, Mason & Smalyukh, 2009)
  • 4 or more authors: (Yu et al., 2007)

About the journal

Full journal titlePeerJ
ISSN (online)2167-8359
ScopeGeneral Agricultural and Biological Sciences
General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
General Medicine
General Neuroscience

Other styles