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
Proctor RN. Expert witnesses take the stand. Nature. 2000;407: 15–16.
A journal article with 2 authors
Moskovitz C, Kellogg D. Science education. Inquiry-based writing in the laboratory course. Science. 2011;332: 919–920.
A journal article with 3 authors
Tanaka G, Urabe C, Aihara K. Random and targeted interventions for epidemic control in metapopulation models. Sci Rep. 2014;4: 5522.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
Roati G, D’Errico C, Fallani L, Fattori M, Fort C, Zaccanti M, et al. Anderson localization of a non-interacting Bose-Einstein condensate. Nature. 2008;453: 895–898.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Guzik A. Essentials for Occupational Health Nursing. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2013.
An edited book
Cuyt A. Handbook of Continued Fractions for Special Functions. Petersen VB, Verdonk B, Waadeland H, Jones WB, editors. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands; 2008.
A chapter in an edited book
Slee PT, Skrzypiec G. Student’s School Relationships. In: Skrzypiec G, editor. Well-Being, Positive Peer Relations and Bullying in School Settings. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2016. pp. 69–94.

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 D. Scientists Claim They’ve Solved What Makes The Bermuda Triangle So Deadly — But There’s A Problem. In: IFLScience [Internet]. IFLScience; 24 Oct 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. Aviation Security: Status of Transportation Security Inspector Workforce. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2009 Feb. Report No.: GAO-09-123R.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Theis JY. Accessing mental health services among Asian American adults: Evidence from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). 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. Politicians’ Latest Plan to Rescue Puerto Rico Is Met With Disdain. New York Times. 30 Mar 2016: B5.

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