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
Szoka F. Molecular biology. The art of assembly. Science. 2008;319: 578–579.
A journal article with 2 authors
Gombosi TI, Ingersoll AP. Saturn: atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetosphere. Science. 2010;327: 1476–1479.
A journal article with 3 authors
Alexander MH, Capecchi G, Werner H-J. Theoretical study of the validity of the Born-Oppenheimer approximation in the Cl + H2 --> HCl + H reaction. Science. 2002;296: 715–718.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
Ice RJ, Wildonger J, Mann RS, Hiebert SW. Comment on “Nervy links protein kinase A to plexin-mediated semaphorin repulsion.” Science. 2005;309: 558; author reply 558.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Neuber A, Nuttall T. Diagnostic Techniques in Veterinary Dermatology. Oxford, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2017.
An edited book
Danos V, Schachter V, editors. Computational Methods in Systems Biology: International Conference CMSB 2004, Paris, France, May 26-28, 2004, Revised Selected Papers. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer; 2005.
A chapter in an edited book
Jevtić M, Vukotić D, Arsenović M. Carleson Measures, Mean Oscillation Spaces and Duality. In: Vukotić D, Arsenović M, editors. Taylor Coefficients and Coefficient Multipliers of Hardy and Bergman-Type Spaces. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2016. pp. 91–106.

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
Hamilton K. 17 Jokes That Only Smart People Will Really Appreciate. In: IFLScience. IFLScience; 23 Mar 2017.


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. Student Loans: Potential Effects of Raising Statutory Audit Threshold. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1997 May. Report No.: HEHS-97-111R.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Graham HH. Leadership as co-influencing: A heuristic narrative study of dynamic co-emergence within the leadership relationship. Doctoral dissertation, George Washington University. 2010.

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
Greenhouse L. A New Justice, an Old Plea: More Money for the Bench. New York Times. 1 Jan 2006: 113.

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

Other styles