How to format your references using the PLOS Computational Biology citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for PLOS Computational 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.
Urquhart K. EUROPEAN SCIENCE: U.K. Unveils “Brain Gain” Initiative. Science. 2000;289: 713b.
A journal article with 2 authors
1.
Rost S, Revenaugh J. Seismic detection of rigid zones at the top of the core. Science. 2001;294: 1911–1914.
A journal article with 3 authors
1.
Ostojic S, Somfai E, Nienhuis B. Scale invariance and universality of force networks in static granular matter. Nature. 2006;439: 828–830.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
1.
Torchinsky MB, Garaude J, Martin AP, Blander JM. Innate immune recognition of infected apoptotic cells directs T(H)17 cell differentiation. Nature. 2009;458: 78–82.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
1.
Šolín P. Partial Differential Equations and the Finite Element Method. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2005.
An edited book
1.
Sullivan P. Teaching with Tasks for Effective Mathematics Learning. Clarke D, Clarke B, editors. New York, NY: Springer; 2013.
A chapter in an edited book
1.
Vandoorne K, Dierckx W, Schrauwen B, Verstraeten D, Bienstman P, Baets R, et al. Photonic Reservoir Computing with Coupled Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers. In: Dolev S, Haist T, Oltean M, editors. Optical SuperComputing: First International Workshop, OSC 2008, Vienna, Austria, August 26, 2008 Proceedings. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer; 2008. pp. 46–55.

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 Computational Biology.

Blog post
1.
Andrew E. Potential Obesity-Contributing Gene Identified. In: IFLScience. IFLScience; 12 Aug 2015.

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. HUD Urban Studies Fellowship Program. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1972 Feb. Report No.: 092422.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
1.
Garishe SS. Protocol for file sharing in mobile ad hoc networks. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach. 2017.

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.
Saslow L. Students Help Track Black Squirrels. New York Times. 24 Feb 2008: LI2.

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 Computational Biology
AbbreviationPLoS Comput. Biol.
ISSN (print)1553-734X
ISSN (online)1553-7358
ScopeEcology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Genetics
Molecular Biology
Computational Theory and Mathematics
Ecology
Modelling and Simulation
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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