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
Abbott, A. (2002). Mouse genome: The real deal. Nature, 420(6915), 456–457.
A journal article with 2 authors
Sekkal, W., & Zaoui, A. (2013). Nanoscale analysis of the morphology and surface stability of calcium carbonate polymorphs. Scientific Reports, 3, 1587.
A journal article with 3 authors
Padian, K., de Ricqlès, A. J., & Horner, J. R. (2001). Dinosaurian growth rates and bird origins. Nature, 412(6845), 405–408.
A journal article with 8 or more authors
Cordier, P., Ungár, T., Zsoldos, L., & Tichy, G. (2004). Dislocation creep in MgSiO3 perovskite at conditions of the Earth’s uppermost lower mantle. Nature, 428(6985), 837–840.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Golio, M. (2006). Engineering Your Retirement. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Piccioli, A. (2015). Bones: Orthopaedic Pathologies in Roman Imperial Age (V. Gazzaniga & P. Catalano, Eds.; 1st ed. 2015). Springer International Publishing.
A chapter in an edited book
Barton, J., Parolin, B., & Weiley, V. (2005). A Spatial Decision Support System for the Management of Public Housing. In J. P. V. Leeuwen & H. J. P. Timmermans (Eds.), Recent Advances in Design and Decision Support Systems in Architecture and Urban Planning (pp. 69–84). 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
Luntz, S. (2014, December 16). SeaWorld CEO Resigns As Profits Tank After Animal Rights Backlash. 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. (2016). Homeland Security: Oversight of Neglected Human Resources Information Technology Investment Is Needed (GAO-16-253). 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
Constantine, S. (2013). Supportive services for transitional and emancipated youth: A grant proposal [Doctoral dissertation]. California State University, Long Beach.

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
Barron, J. (2017, February 20). A Floor of a World Trade Center Tower Is Splashed With Graffiti, by Invitation. New York Times, A20.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Abbott, 2002).
This sentence cites two references (Abbott, 2002; Sekkal & Zaoui, 2013).

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

  • Two authors: (Sekkal & Zaoui, 2013)
  • Three authors: (Padian et al., 2001)
  • 6 or more authors: (Cordier et al., 2004)

About the journal

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

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