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
Vosshall, L. B. (2007). Into the mind of a fly. Nature, 450(7167), 193–197.
A journal article with 2 authors
Losos, J. B., & Schluter, D. (2000). Analysis of an evolutionary species-area relationship. Nature, 408(6814), 847–850.
A journal article with 3 authors
Dotera, T., Oshiro, T., & Ziherl, P. (2014). Mosaic two-lengthscale quasicrystals. Nature, 506(7487), 208–211.
A journal article with 8 or more authors
Bijl, P. K., Schouten, S., Sluijs, A., Reichart, G.-J., Zachos, J. C., & Brinkhuis, H. (2009). Early Palaeogene temperature evolution of the southwest Pacific Ocean. Nature, 461(7265), 776–779.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Orford, J. (2012). Addiction Dilemmas. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
An edited book
Chiu, M.-H. (Ed.). (2016). Science Education Research and Practices in Taiwan: Challenges and Opportunities (1st ed. 2016). Singapore: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Fitzclarence, L. (2011). Reflections on the Deakin Assemblage Of/For the Critical Project. In R. Tinning & K. Sirna (Eds.), Education, Social Justice and the Legacy of Deakin University: Reflections of the Deakin Diaspora (pp. 41–52). Rotterdam: SensePublishers.

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
Luntz, S. (2015, April 10). Origins Of Mysterious Radio Wave Bursts Discovered. Retrieved October 30, 2018, from


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. (2016). Revolving Funds: Additional Pricing and Performance Information for FAA and Treasury Funds Could Enhance Agency Decisions on Shared Services (No. GAO-16-477). Washington, DC: 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
Bacus, M. (2015). Disturb the Morning (Doctoral dissertation). Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL.

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
Crow, K. (2002, February 24). Street-Cleaning Rules Are Whisked Away, And Drivers Get a Little Patch of Heaven. New York Times, p. 144.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Vosshall, 2007).
This sentence cites two references (Losos & Schluter, 2000; Vosshall, 2007).

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

  • Two authors: (Losos & Schluter, 2000)
  • Three authors: (Dotera, Oshiro, & Ziherl, 2014)
  • 6 or more authors: (Bijl et al., 2009)

About the journal

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

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