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
Rosenzweig AC. Biochemistry: Breaking methane. Nature. 2015;518: 309–310.
A journal article with 2 authors
Kimmins S, Sassone-Corsi P. Chromatin remodelling and epigenetic features of germ cells. Nature. 2005;434: 583–589.
A journal article with 3 authors
Gorb EV, Baum MJ, Gorb SN. Development and regeneration ability of the wax coverage in Nepenthes alata pitchers: a cryo-SEM approach. Sci Rep. 2013;3: 3078.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
Hart SD, Maskaly GR, Temelkuran B, Prideaux PH, Joannopoulos JD, Fink Y. External reflection from omnidirectional dielectric mirror fibers. Science. 2002;296: 510–513.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Senez V, Thomy V, Dufour R. Nanotechnologies for Synthetic Super Non-Wetting Surfaces. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2014.
An edited book
Trozak DJ. Dermatology Skills for Primary Care: An Illustrated Guide. Tennenhouse DJ, Russell JJ, editors. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2006.
A chapter in an edited book
Bobodzhanova K. Food Safety Issues in Tajikistan. In: Alpas H, Smith M, Kulmyrzaev A, editors. Strategies for Achieving Food Security in Central Asia. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands; 2012. pp. 31–42.

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
Andrew E. Revolutionary Silicon Chip Brings Us Closer To Light-Speed Computer Technology. In: IFLScience. IFLScience; 18 May 2015.


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. The F-14/PHOENIX Aircraft Program. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1973 Apr. Report No.: 093802.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Hertzog L. Development and implementation of a prenatal postpartum depression education program for nurse practitioner students at California State University Long Beach. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach. 2013.

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
Walsh MW. Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Closes In on Jan. 1 Deadline. New York Times. 30 Dec 2015: B1.

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