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
Wicherts JM. 2011. Psychology must learn a lesson from fraud case. Nature 480:7.
A journal article with 2 authors
Mashburn LM, Whiteley M. 2005. Membrane vesicles traffic signals and facilitate group activities in a prokaryote. Nature 437:422–425.
A journal article with 3 authors
Post DM, Pace ML, Hairston NG Jr. 2000. Ecosystem size determines food-chain length in lakes. Nature 405:1047–1049.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Tang Z, Chandrasekara R, Sean YY, Cheng C, Wildfeuer C, Ling A. 2014. Near-space flight of a correlated photon system. Scientific reports 4:6366.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Darbyshire P, Hampton D. 2012. Hedge Fund Modelling and Analysis Using Excel and VBA. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
An edited book
Spector JM, Ifenthaler D, Sampson DG, Isaias P (eds.). 2016. Competencies in Teaching, Learning and Educational Leadership in the Digital Age: Papers from CELDA 2014. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
A chapter in an edited book
Aktories K, Schmidt G. 2014. Bacterial Protein Toxins Acting on Small GTPases. In: Wittinghofer A ed. Ras Superfamily Small G Proteins: Biology and Mechanisms 1: General Features, Signaling. Vienna: Springer, 65–97.

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
Davis J. 2017.New Zealand River Is Given Same Legal Rights As Humans. 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. 2012. Health Information Technology: CMS Took Steps to Improve Its Beneficiary Eligibility Verification System. 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
Grant L. 2013. How Does a Principal Use Intention and Strategy in the Enactment of Advocacy Leadership? Doctoral dissertation Thesis. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida.

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
Pilon M. 2014. Jump in Prostitution Arrests in Super Bowl Week. New York Times:B16.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Wicherts, 2011).
This sentence cites two references (Mashburn & Whiteley, 2005; Wicherts, 2011).

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

  • Two authors: (Mashburn & Whiteley, 2005)
  • Three authors: (Post, Pace & Hairston, 2000)
  • 4 or more authors: (Tang et al., 2014)

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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