How to format your references using the Synthesis citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Synthesis. 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
Sinclair, D. A. Science 2003, 301, 1859.
A journal article with 2 authors
Sundquist, W. I.; Ullman, K. S. Science 2015, 348, 1314.
A journal article with 3 authors
Hollingsworth, R. G.; Armstrong, J. W.; Campbell, E. Nature 2002, 417, 915.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Spencer, S. L.; Gaudet, S.; Albeck, J. G.; Burke, J. M.; Sorger, P. K. Nature 2009, 459, 428.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Stenzel, J. CIO Best Practices; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, NJ, 2010.
An edited book
User-Centric Technologies and Applications: Proceedings of the CONTEXTS 2011 Workshop; Molina, J. M.; Corredera, J. R. C.; Pérez, M. F. C.; Ortega-García, J.; Barbolla, A. M. B., Eds.; Advances in Intelligent and Soft Computing; Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg, 2011; Vol. 94.
A chapter in an edited book
Gaggioli, A.; Riva, G.; Milani, L.; Mazzoni, E. In Networked Flow: Towards an Understanding of Creative Networks; Riva, G.; Milani, L.; Mazzoni, E., Eds.; SpringerBriefs in Education; Springer Netherlands: Dordrecht, 2013; 71.

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 Synthesis.

Blog post
Hale, T. Archaeologists Dig Up Britain’s Oldest Handwritten Document In Central London (accessed Oct 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 Natural Gas Pipeline Safety: Integrity Management Benefits Public Safety, but Consistency of Performance Measures Should be Improved; U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 2006.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Mayfield, K. M. Project managers’ experience and description of decision uncertainty associated with the agile software development methodology: A phenomenological study. Doctoral dissertation, Capella University: Minneapolis, MN, 2010.

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
Oestreich, J. R. New York Times 2017, C5.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in superscript:

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 titleSynthesis
ISSN (print)0039-7881
ISSN (online)1437-210X

Other styles