How to format your references using the System citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for System. 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
Crow, J. F. (2001). The beanbag lives on. Nature, 409(6822), 771.
A journal article with 2 authors
Gebhardt, J. C. M., & Rief, M. (2009). Biochemistry. Force signaling in biology. Science (New York, N.Y.), 324(5932), 1278–1280.
A journal article with 3 authors
Lyons, T. W., Reinhard, C. T., & Planavsky, N. J. (2014). The rise of oxygen in Earth’s early ocean and atmosphere. Nature, 506(7488), 307–315.
A journal article with 8 or more authors
Sakulkhu, U., Mahmoudi, M., Maurizi, L., Salaklang, J., & Hofmann, H. (2014). Protein corona composition of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with various physico-chemical properties and coatings. Scientific Reports, 4, 5020.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Köhler, M. (2005). Nanotechnologie. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.
An edited book
Kemper, C. (2012). Foundation Version Control for Web Developers (I. Oxley, Ed.). Apress.
A chapter in an edited book
Compagni, V. P. (2008). Tutius Ignorare Quam Scire: Cornelius Agrippa and Scepticism. In G. Paganini & J. R. M. Neto (Eds.), Renaissance Scepticisms (pp. 91–110). Springer Netherlands.

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 System.

Blog post
Carpineti, A. (2016, September 6). Gravitational Waves Are Produced Quickly In Galaxy Mergers. IFLScience; 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. (2014). Emergency Transportation Relief: Agencies Could Improve Collaboration Begun during Hurricane Sandy Response (GAO-14-512). U.S. Government Printing Office.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Eutz, R. J. (2014). The experiences of Recovery High School students: Using empirical phenomenology to garner knowledge [Doctoral dissertation]. Capella University.

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
Zraick, K., & Gladstone, R. (2016, January 20). Prisoner Swap With Iran Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Iran Gets Anyone. New York Times, A8.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Crow, 2001).
This sentence cites two references (Crow, 2001; Gebhardt & Rief, 2009).

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

  • Two authors: (Gebhardt & Rief, 2009)
  • Three authors: (Lyons et al., 2014)
  • 6 or more authors: (Sakulkhu et al., 2014)

About the journal

Full journal titleSystem
ISSN (print)0346-251X
ScopeLanguage and Linguistics
Linguistics and Language

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