How to format your references using the PLOS Genetics citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for PLOS Genetics. 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
Stebbins JF. Materials science. Dynamics in ceramics. Science. 2002;297: 1285–1287.
A journal article with 2 authors
Fukuchi-Shimogori T, Grove EA. Neocortex patterning by the secreted signaling molecule FGF8. Science. 2001;294: 1071–1074.
A journal article with 3 authors
Walkden G, Parker J, Kelley S. A late Triassic impact ejecta layer in southwestern Britain. Science. 2002;298: 2185–2188.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
Liu G, Ye X, Miller EJ, Liu SF. NF-κB-to-AP-1 switch: a mechanism regulating transition from endothelial barrier injury to repair in endotoxemic mice. Sci Rep. 2014;4: 5543.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Bécherrawy T. Mechanical and Electromagnetic Vibrations and Waves. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 2012.
An edited book
Yamamura N, Fujita N, Maekawa A, editors. The Mongolian Ecosystem Network: Environmental Issues Under Climate and Social Changes. Tokyo: Springer Japan; 2013.
A chapter in an edited book
Giannini C, Okazaki H. Nervous System. In: Waters BL, editor. Handbook of Autopsy Practice. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2009. pp. 51–68.

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 Genetics.

Blog post
Davis J. Where Have All Earth’s Impact Craters Gone? In: IFLScience [Internet]. IFLScience; 29 Jun 2015 [cited 30 Oct 2018]. Available:


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. Contracting for Computer Teleprocessing Services Can Be Improved. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1983 Jun. Report No.: AFMD-83-60.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Boudreau M-L. Chanter en français en Louisiane: Du passé vers le futur. Doctoral dissertation, University of Louisiana. 2014.

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
Saslow L. Nassau to Transfer 9 Parks And 12 Roads to Town. New York Times. 8 Apr 2007: 14LI2.

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 Genetics
AbbreviationPLoS Genet.
ISSN (print)1553-7390
ISSN (online)1553-7404
ScopeEcology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Cancer Research
Molecular Biology

Other styles