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
Solow AR. 2013. Global warming: A call for peace on climate and conflict. Nature 497: 179–180.
A journal article with 2 authors
Murakami M, Kouyama T. 2008. Crystal structure of squid rhodopsin. Nature 453: 363–367.
A journal article with 3 authors
Otto SB, Rall BC, Brose U. 2007. Allometric degree distributions facilitate food-web stability. Nature 450: 1226–1229.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Brunson JK, McKinnie SMK, Chekan JR, McCrow JP, Miles ZD, Bertrand EM, Bielinski VA, Luhavaya H, Oborník M, Smith GJ, et al. 2018. Biosynthesis of the neurotoxin domoic acid in a bloom-forming diatom. Science 361: 1356–1358.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Bonk CJ. 2011. The World is Open. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, USA.
An edited book
Lin JC, ed. 2009. Advances in Electromagnetic Fields in Living Systems: Volume 5, Health Effects of Cell Phone Radiation. Springer, New York, NY.
A chapter in an edited book
Bakonyi M, Lopushanskaya EV. 2010. Moment Problems for Real Measures on the Unit Circle. In Recent Advances in Operator Theory in Hilbert and Krein Spaces (eds. J. Behrndt, K.-H. Förster, and C. Trunk), pp. 49–60, Birkhäuser, Basel.

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
Taub B. 2016. Being Vegetarian Could Help You Live Longer. 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. Implementation of the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982. 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
Xiao EA. 2017. Understanding Employment to Entrepreneurship Transitions among Women Working in the Tech Industry. Doctoral dissertation, Pepperdine University, Malibu, 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
Stewart JB. 2016. In Chamber of Secrets: An Author’s Net Worth. New York Times, November 24.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Solow 2013).
This sentence cites two references (Solow 2013; Murakami and Kouyama 2008).

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

  • Two authors: (Murakami and Kouyama 2008)
  • Three or more authors: (Brunson et al. 2018)

About the journal

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

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