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
Cyranoski D. Japanese team makes stem cells. Nature. 2003;423: 577.
A journal article with 2 authors
Bray GA, Tartaglia LA. Medicinal strategies in the treatment of obesity. Nature. 2000;404: 672–677.
A journal article with 3 authors
Dillin A, Crawford DK, Kenyon C. Timing requirements for insulin/IGF-1 signaling in C. elegans. Science. 2002;298: 830–834.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
Wang B, Xin H, Li X, Cheng J, Yang G, Nie F. Mesoporous CNT@TiO2-C nanocable with extremely durable high rate capability for lithium-ion battery anodes. Sci Rep. 2014;4: 3729.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Jepsen TC. Distributed Storage Networks. West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2003.
An edited book
Villani E. Modelling and Analysis of Hybrid Supervisory Systems: A Petri Net Approach. Miyagi PE, Valette R, editors. London: Springer; 2007.
A chapter in an edited book
Burns SN. Gene Expression, Epigenetic Regulation, and Cancer. In: Mishra MK, Bishnupuri KS, editors. Epigenetic Advancements in Cancer. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2016. pp. 79–96.

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
Luntz S. Arctic Methane May Not be Warming The Planet. In: IFLScience [Internet]. IFLScience; 1 Jun 2016 [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. Puerto Rico: Characteristics of the Island’s Maritime Trade and Potential Effects of Modifying the Jones Act. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2013 Mar. Report No.: GAO-13-260.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Mardakhanian A. Blended CME, Inc. A business plan. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach. 2015.

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
Feeney K. Barbecue, Smoked and Sauced. New York Times. 15 Feb 2009: NJ9.

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