How to format your references using the PLOS Pathogens citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for PLOS Pathogens. 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
Gavaghan H. Governments prime basic nanotech research, applied activity yet to soar. Nature. 2000;408: 619–620.
A journal article with 2 authors
Federman SR, Young ED. Comment on “Experimental test of self-shielding in vacuum ultraviolet photodissociation of CO.” Science. 2009;324: 1516; author reply 1516.
A journal article with 3 authors
Li F, Saslow WM, Pokrovsky VL. Phase diagram for magnon condensate in Yttrium Iron Garnet film. Sci Rep. 2013;3: 1372.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
Dore JE, Lukas R, Sadler DW, Karl DM. Climate-driven changes to the atmospheric CO2 sink in the subtropical North Pacific Ocean. Nature. 2003;424: 754–757.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Sigrist J-F. Fluid-Structure Interaction. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2015.
An edited book
Ruiz-Trillo I, Nedelcu AM, editors. Evolutionary Transitions to Multicellular Life: Principles and mechanisms. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands; 2015.
A chapter in an edited book
Maso M. Energy Harvesting Oriented Transceiver Design for 5G Networks. In: Shakir MZ, Imran MA, A. Qaraqe K, Alouini M-S, V. Vasilakos A, editors. Energy Management in Wireless Cellular and Ad-hoc Networks. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2016. pp. 67–95.

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 Pathogens.

Blog post
Hale T. Planet Earth II Stuns Viewers With A Jaguar Versus Caiman Clash. In: IFLScience [Internet]. IFLScience; 21 Nov 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. District of Columbia Public Schools: Student Enrollment Count Remains Vulnerable to Errors. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1997 Aug. Report No.: HEHS-97-161.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Cisewski J. Generalized fiducial inference for mixed linear models. Doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina. 2012.

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. On Contraception, It’s Church Over State. New York Times. 11 Oct 2017: SR10.

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 Pathogens
AbbreviationPLoS Pathog.
ISSN (print)1553-7366
ISSN (online)1553-7374
Molecular Biology

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