How to format your references using the RNA citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for RNA. 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.
EndNoteDownload the output style file
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
Paulson T. 2013. Epidemiology: A mortal foe. Nature 502: S2-3.
A journal article with 2 authors
Maund JR, Smartt SJ. 2009. The disappearance of the progenitors of supernovae 1993J and 2003gd. Science 324: 486–488.
A journal article with 3 authors
Kramer G, Guilbride DL, Bukau B. 2015. Cell Biology. Finding nascent proteins the right home. Science 348: 182–183.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Gutmann S, Haebel PW, Metzinger L, Sutter M, Felden B, Ban N. 2003. Crystal structure of the transfer-RNA domain of transfer-messenger RNA in complex with SmpB. Nature 424: 699–703.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Ratliff TA. 2005. The Laboratory Quality Assurance System. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.
An edited book
Waibel A, Stiefelhagen R, eds. 2009. Computers in the Human Interaction Loop. 1st ed. Springer, London.
A chapter in an edited book
Walker A. 2016. Population Ageing from a Global and Theoretical Perspective: European Lessons on Active Ageing. In Age-Friendly Cities and Communities in International Comparison: Political Lessons, Scientific Avenues, and Democratic Issues (eds. T. Moulaert and S. Garon), International Perspectives on Aging, pp. 47–64, Springer International Publishing, Cham.

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 RNA.

Blog post
Andrew E. 2015. Two Critically Endangered Tamarins Freeze To Death Due To Zookeeper Error. IFLScience.


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. 1986. Biotechnology: Agriculture’s Regulatory System Needs Clarification. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Eisenberg DA. 2012. Effectiveness of an eel curriculum on student achievement for the California earth science standard on ocean currents A comparative analysis. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA.

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
Kishkovsky S. 1999. A Pushkin Celebration on His Family’s Estate. New York Times, May 23.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Paulson 2013).
This sentence cites two references (Paulson 2013; Maund and Smartt 2009).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Maund and Smartt 2009)
  • Three or more authors: (Gutmann et al. 2003)

About the journal

Full journal titleRNA
ISSN (print)1335-8382
ISSN (online)1469-9001
ScopeMolecular Biology

Other styles