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
Levine M. 2014. Retrospective. Walter Gehring (1939-2014). Science 345: 277.
A journal article with 2 authors
Fienberg SE, Prewitt K. 2010. Save your census. Nature 466: 1043.
A journal article with 3 authors
Attardo A, Fitzgerald JE, Schnitzer MJ. 2015. Impermanence of dendritic spines in live adult CA1 hippocampus. Nature 523: 592–596.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Milo R, Itzkovitz S, Kashtan N, Levitt R, Shen-Orr S, Ayzenshtat I, Sheffer M, Alon U. 2004. Superfamilies of evolved and designed networks. Science 303: 1538–1542.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Tripathi N, Singh RS, Hills CD. 2016. Reclamation of Mine-Impacted Land for Ecosystem Recovery. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK.
An edited book
Isaías P, Spector JM, Ifenthaler D, Sampson DG, eds. 2015. E-Learning Systems, Environments and Approaches: Theory and Implementation. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
A chapter in an edited book
Sampaolesi R, Sampaolesi JR, Zárate J. 2014. Structure and Function of the Tissues That Are in Contact with the Aqueous Humor. In The Glaucomas: Volume II - Open Angle Glaucoma and Angle Closure Glaucoma (eds. J.R. Sampaolesi and J. Zárate), pp. 39–70, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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 D. 2017. Phosphorus Is Vital For Life On Earth – And We’re Running Low. IFLScience. (Accessed October 30, 2018).


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. 1999. Federal Aviation Administration: Issues Concerning the Reauthorization of Aviation Programs. 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
Dinh H. 2013. A study of cell-based genetic algorithms with applications to neural networks. 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
Dorman JL. 2017. From Small Plates, Inspiration Goes Beyond the Local Scene. New York Times, August 18.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Levine 2014).
This sentence cites two references (Levine 2014; Fienberg and Prewitt 2010).

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

  • Two authors: (Fienberg and Prewitt 2010)
  • Three or more authors: (Milo et al. 2004)

About the journal

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

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