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
Konner M. 2002. Weaving life’s pattern. Nature 418: 279.
A journal article with 2 authors
Weller E, Cai W. 2014. Meridional variability of atmospheric convection associated with the Indian Ocean Dipole Mode. Sci Rep 4: 3590.
A journal article with 3 authors
Navarro-González R, McKay CP, Mvondo DN. 2001. A possible nitrogen crisis for Archaean life due to reduced nitrogen fixation by lightning. Nature 412: 61–64.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Tohda C, Lee Y-A, Goto Y, Nemere I. 2013. Diosgenin-induced cognitive enhancement in normal mice is mediated by 1,25D₃-MARRS. Sci Rep 3: 3395.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Hahn A, Behle B, Lischewski D, Rein W. 2002. Produktionstechnische Praxis. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany.
An edited book
Yousif M, Schubert L, eds. 2013. Cloud Computing: Third International Conference, CloudComp 2012, Vienna, Austria, September 24-26, 2012, Revised Selected Papers. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
A chapter in an edited book
Walker LEA, Pann JM, Shapiro DL, Van Hasselt VB. 2016. A Review of Best Practices for the Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Jail. In Best Practices for the Mentally Ill in the Criminal Justice System (eds. J.M. Pann, D.L. Shapiro, and V.B. Van Hasselt), SpringerBriefs in Psychology, pp. 57–69, 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
Fang J. 2014. It May Benefit Lady Birds to Get Divorced. 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. 2003. Business Systems Modernization: IRS Has Made Significant Progress in Improving Its Management Controls, but Risks Remain. 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
Wang T. 2013. Talking to Strangers: Chinese Youth and Social Media. Doctoral dissertation, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, 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
Peters JF, Nikas J, Lyons E. 2017. Youth in San Diego: Skateboards, Beach Hangs and Chicano Culture. New York Times, September 9.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Konner 2002).
This sentence cites two references (Konner 2002; Weller and Cai 2014).

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

  • Two authors: (Weller and Cai 2014)
  • Three or more authors: (Tohda et al. 2013)

About the journal

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

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