How to format your references using the PLOS Biology citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for PLOS 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.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
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
1.
Smaglik P. Sweet dreams. Nature. 2003;421: 193.
A journal article with 2 authors
1.
Stahler S, Palla F. Astronomy. The beat of young stars. Science. 2014;345: 514–515.
A journal article with 3 authors
1.
Lee H, Habas R, Abate-Shen C. MSX1 cooperates with histone H1b for inhibition of transcription and myogenesis. Science. 2004;304: 1675–1678.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
1.
Biswas T, Aihara H, Radman-Livaja M, Filman D, Landy A, Ellenberger T. A structural basis for allosteric control of DNA recombination by lambda integrase. Nature. 2005;435: 1059–1066.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
1.
Taber DF. Organic Synthesis. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2006.
An edited book
1.
Kessler G. The Risks of Nuclear Energy Technology: Safety Concepts of Light Water Reactors. Veser A, Schlüter F-H, Raskob W, Landman C, Päsler-Sauer J, editors. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer; 2014.
A chapter in an edited book
1.
Dye HA, Kauffman LH, Manturov VO. On Two Categorifications of the Arrow Polynomial for Virtual Knots. In: Banagl M, Vogel D, editors. The Mathematics of Knots: Theory and Application. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer; 2011. pp. 95–124.

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 PLOS Biology.

Blog post
1.
Andrew D. Programmers Are Having A Huge Discussion About The Unethical And Illegal Things They’ve Been Asked To Do. In: IFLScience [Internet]. IFLScience; 21 Nov 2016 [cited 30 Oct 2018]. Available: https://www.iflscience.com/technology/programmers-are-having-a-huge-discussion-about-the-unethical-and-illegal-things-theyve-been-asked-to-do/

Reports

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
1.
Government Accountability Office. Telecommunications: Preliminary Observations about Consumer Satisfaction and Problems with Wireless Phone Service and FCC’s Efforts to Assist Consumers with Complaints. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2009 Jun. Report No.: GAO-09-800T.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
1.
Valadez I. A psycho-education peer support group for homeless youth: A grant proposal. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach. 2010.

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
1.
Kelly C. A Remodeling Gift to Remind Tarrytown of a Church’s History. New York Times. 13 Jan 2008: 14WE11.

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 titlePLOS Biology
AbbreviationPLoS Biol.
ISSN (print)1544-9173
ISSN (online)1545-7885
ScopeGeneral Agricultural and Biological Sciences
General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
General Immunology and Microbiology
General Neuroscience

Other styles