How to format your references using the PLOS Medicine citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for PLOS Medicine. 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
England J. Canada needs a polar policy. Nature. 2010;463: 159.
A journal article with 2 authors
Tenopir C, King DW. Lessons for the future of journals. Nature. 2001;413: 672–674.
A journal article with 3 authors
Blake RE, Chang SJ, Lepland A. Phosphate oxygen isotopic evidence for a temperate and biologically active Archaean ocean. Nature. 2010;464: 1029–1032.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
Karlsson M, Rebmann B, Lienemann PS, Sprossmann N, Ehrbar M, Radziwill G, et al. Pharmacologically controlled protein switch for ON-OFF regulation of growth factor activity. Sci Rep. 2013;3: 2716.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Angueira P, Romo JA. Microwave Line of Sight Link Engineering. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2012.
An edited book
Tian J, Jing J, Srivatsa M, editors. International Conference on Security and Privacy in Communication Networks: 10th International ICST Conference, SecureComm 2014, Beijing, China, September 24-26, 2014, Revised Selected Papers, Part II. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2015.
A chapter in an edited book
Wikarek J, Sitek P. A Multi-level and Multi-agent Approach to Modeling and Solving Supply Chain Problems. In: Bajo J, Escalona MJ, Giroux S, Hoffa-Dąbrowska P, Julián V, Novais P, et al., editors. Highlights of Practical Applications of Scalable Multi-Agent Systems The PAAMS Collection: International Workshops of PAAMS 2016, Sevilla, Spain, June 1-3, 2016 Proceedings. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2016. pp. 49–60.

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 Medicine.

Blog post
Andrew E. First “Super Moon” Of The Year Will Be Visible July 12. In: IFLScience [Internet]. IFLScience; 12 Jul 2014 [cited 30 Oct 2018]. Available:“super-moon”-year-will-be-visible-july-12/


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. Delegation of GSA Procurement Authority for Automatic Data Processing Equipment Acquisitions. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1976 Apr. Report No.: B-115369.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Kress DM. A phenomenological study exploring executive coaching: Understanding perceptions of self-awareness and leadership behavior changes. Doctoral dissertation, University of Phoenix. 2008.

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
Murphy MJO. Weekend Entertainments From the Archives of The New York Times. New York Times. 10 Jul 2015: C21.

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 Medicine
AbbreviationPLoS Med.
ISSN (print)1549-1277
ISSN (online)1549-1676
ScopeGeneral Medicine

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