How to format your references using the Systematic Biology citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Systematic Biology. 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
Nowak M.A. 2004. Prisoners of the dilemma. Nature. 427:491.
A journal article with 2 authors
Truitt W.A., Coolen L.M. 2002. Identification of a potential ejaculation generator in the spinal cord. Science. 297:1566–1569.
A journal article with 3 authors
Samokhvalov I.M., Samokhvalova N.I., Nishikawa S.-I. 2007. Cell tracing shows the contribution of the yolk sac to adult haematopoiesis. Nature. 446:1056–1061.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Stadtfeld M., Nagaya M., Utikal J., Weir G., Hochedlinger K. 2008. Induced pluripotent stem cells generated without viral integration. Science. 322:945–949.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Noyer J.-M. 2016. Transformation of Collective Intelligences. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Voland E., Schiefenhövel W., editors. 2009. The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Connelly W.M. 2014. Neurosteroids and Extrasynaptic GABAA Receptors. In: Errington A.C., Di Giovanni G., Crunelli V., editors. Extrasynaptic GABAA Receptors. New York, NY: Springer. p. 75–84.

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 Systematic Biology.

Blog post
Carpineti A. 2016. Rosetta Mission To End With Crash Landing On September 30. Available 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. 1989. Head Start: Information on Sponsoring Organizations and Center Facilities. .

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Holmstedt C. 2013. Low voltage switched-current cell and its application. .

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
Waldstein D., Rothenberg B. 2016. They Built a Roof. It Got Loud. Now What? New York Times.:D1.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Nowak 2004).
This sentence cites two references (Truitt and Coolen 2002; Nowak 2004).

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

  • Two authors: (Truitt and Coolen 2002)
  • Three or more authors: (Stadtfeld et al. 2008)

About the journal

Full journal titleSystematic Biology
AbbreviationSyst. Biol.
ISSN (print)1063-5157
ISSN (online)1076-836X
ScopeEcology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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