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
Seager S. 2013. Exoplanet habitability. Science. 340:577–581.
A journal article with 2 authors
Steiner L., Ploegh H. 2014. Herman Eisen (1918-2014). Nature. 516:38.
A journal article with 3 authors
Chen L.-Y., Redon S., Lingner J. 2012. The human CST complex is a terminator of telomerase activity. Nature. 488:540–544.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Li S., Zhou D., Lu M.M., Morrisey E.E. 2004. Advanced cardiac morphogenesis does not require heart tube fusion. Science. 305:1619–1622.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Smith C.L. 2010. Advanced Process Control. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Lundh Snis U., editor. 2016. Nordic Contributions in IS Research: 7th Scandinavian Conference on Information Systems, SCIS 2016 and IFIP8.6 2016, Ljungskile, Sweden, August 7-10, 2016, Proceedings. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
A chapter in an edited book
Yang W., Shen L., Shi P. 2015. Mapping Landslide Risk of the World. In: Shi P., Kasperson R., editors. World Atlas of Natural Disaster Risk. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. p. 57–66.

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
Luntz S. 2015. Rats Will Choose Friendship Over Food. 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. 1987. Attack Warning: ADP and Communication Modernization Programs for Warning and Assessment. .

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Britt A.L. 2014. The Long-Term Impact of Preschool Education on Student Achievement. .

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
(nyt) S.K. 2004. World Briefing | Europe: Russia: Bombs Injure 8 In Area Near Chechnya. New York Times.:A9.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Seager 2013).
This sentence cites two references (Seager 2013; Steiner and Ploegh 2014).

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

  • Two authors: (Steiner and Ploegh 2014)
  • Three or more authors: (Li et al. 2004)

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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