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
Carr AM. 2002. Checking that replication breakdown is not terminal. Science (New York, N.Y.) 297:557–558.
A journal article with 2 authors
Leeb M, Wutz A. 2011. Derivation of haploid embryonic stem cells from mouse embryos. Nature 479:131–134.
A journal article with 3 authors
Wasan DT, Nikolov AD, Brenner H. 2001. Fluid dynamics. Droplets speeding on surfaces. Science (New York, N.Y.) 291:605–606.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Pan X, Eathiraj S, Munson M, Lambright DG. 2006. TBC-domain GAPs for Rab GTPases accelerate GTP hydrolysis by a dual-finger mechanism. Nature 442:303–306.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
DeRosa TF. 2008. Advances in Polymer Chemistry and Methods Reported in Recent US Patents. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Hudson PF, Middelkoop H (eds.). 2015. Geomorphic Approaches to Integrated Floodplain Management of Lowland Fluvial Systems in North America and Europe. New York, NY: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Murray-Rust D, Robertson D. 2015. Bootstrapping the Next Generation of Social Machines. In: Li W, Huhns MN, Tsai W-T, Wu W eds. Crowdsourcing: Cloud-Based Software Development. Progress in IS. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, 53–71.

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. 2014.Breath Test Being Developed To Detect Lung Cancer. 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. 1987. Deaf Education: The National Mission of Gallaudet’s Elementary and Secondary Schools. 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
Hammarsten C. 2015. Decorated Heegaard Diagrams and Combinatorial Heegaard Floer Homology. Doctoral dissertation Thesis. Washington, DC: George Washington 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
Lardner G Jr. 2010. No Country for Second Chances. New York Times:A27.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Carr, 2002).
This sentence cites two references (Carr, 2002; Leeb & Wutz, 2011).

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

  • Two authors: (Leeb & Wutz, 2011)
  • Three authors: (Wasan, Nikolov & Brenner, 2001)
  • 4 or more authors: (Pan et al., 2006)

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

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