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
Martin, T. E. Science 2015, 349, 966.
A journal article with 2 authors
O’Neill, L. A. J.; Hardie, D. G. Nature 2013, 493, 346.
A journal article with 3 authors
Barnett, T. P.; Adam, J. C.; Lettenmaier, D. P. Nature 2005, 438, 303.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Reichow, M. K.; Saunders, A. D.; White, R. V.; Pringle, M. S.; Al’Mukhamedov, A. I.; Medvedev, A. I.; Kirda, N. P. Science 2002, 296, 1846.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Lahdenmäki, T.; Leach, M. Relational Database Index Design and the Optimizers; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, NJ, 2005.
An edited book
Visual Informatics: Sustaining Research and Innovations: Second International Visual Informatics Conference, IVIC 2011, Selangor, Malaysia, November 9-11, 2011, Proceedings, Part II; Zaman, H. B.; Robinson, P.; Petrou, M.; Olivier, P.; Shih, T. K.; Velastin, S.; Nyström, I., Eds.; Lecture Notes in Computer Science; Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg, 2011; Vol. 7067.
A chapter in an edited book
Purewal, A. S.; Krauskopf, B.; Postlethwaite, C. M. In Control of Self-Organizing Nonlinear Systems; Schöll, E.; Klapp, S. H. L.; Hövel, P., Eds.; Understanding Complex Systems; Springer International Publishing: Cham, 2016; 81.

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
Hamilton, K. Indulgent-Sounding Food Labels Could Make Us Eat More Vegetables (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 Aviation Runway and Ramp Safety: Sustained Efforts to Address Leadership, Technology, and Other Challenges Needed to Reduce Accidents and Incidents; U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 2007.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Janice, J. Preschoolers’ Prosocial Responding to Social Others’ Distress. Doctoral dissertation, University of Louisiana: Lafayette, LA, 2017.

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
Goldstein, J. New York Times 2014, A18.

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