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
Ovid’ko IA. Materials science. Deformation of nanostructures. Science. 2002;295: 2386.
A journal article with 2 authors
Patel AD, Balaban E. Temporal patterns of human cortical activity reflect tone sequence structure. Nature. 2000;404: 80–84.
A journal article with 3 authors
Li de la Sierra-Gallay I, Pellegrini O, Condon C. Structural basis for substrate binding, cleavage and allostery in the tRNA maturase RNase Z. Nature. 2005;433: 657–661.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
Zhang J, Sun B, Huang X, Chen S, Wang G. Honeycomb-like porous gel polymer electrolyte membrane for lithium ion batteries with enhanced safety. Sci Rep. 2014;4: 6007.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Nicholls DL, Piergrossi JC, Gibertoni C de S, Daniel MA. Psychoanalytic Thinking in Occupational Therapy. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd; 2013.
An edited book
Bornstein BH, Miller MK, editors. Advances in Psychology and Law: Volume 2. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2016.
A chapter in an edited book
Waluszewski A. Contemporary Research and Innovation Policy: A Double Disservice? In: Rider S, Hasselberg Y, Waluszewski A, editors. Transformations in Research, Higher Education and the Academic Market: The Breakdown of Scientific Thought. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands; 2013. pp. 71–95.

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. Marijuana Contains “Alien DNA” From Outside Of Our Solar System, NASA Confirms. In: IFLScience [Internet]. IFLScience; 13 Jul 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. NASA Performance Awards. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1980 Sep. Report No.: B-196181.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Zazworsky LM. Dumbing down for others: Differences in socially motivated underachievement between working and middle class students. 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
Kenigsberg B. The Listings; Film Series. New York Times. 9 Mar 2017: C23.

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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