How to format your references using the Systems and Synthetic Biology citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Systems and Synthetic 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.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
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
Smaglik P (2004) The joy of the lab. Nature 431:227
A journal article with 2 authors
Chang M, Lingner J (2008) Cell signaling. Tel2 finally tells one story. Science 320:60–61
A journal article with 3 authors
Liljas A, Ehrenberg M, Åqvist J (2011) Comment on “The mechanism for activation of GTP hydrolysis on the ribosome.” Science 333:37; author reply 37
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Ebihara M, Sekimoto S, Shirai N, et al (2011) Neutron activation analysis of a particle returned from asteroid Itokawa. Science 333:1119–1121

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Lincoln NB, Kneebone II, Macniven JAB, Morris RC (2011) Psychological Management of Stroke. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK
An edited book
Lübberstedt T, Varshney RK (eds) (2013) Diagnostics in Plant Breeding. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht
A chapter in an edited book
Tepper SJ, Tepper DE (2014) Diagnosis of Primary Chronic Daily Headaches. In: Tepper SJ, Tepper DE (eds) The Cleveland Clinic Manual of Headache Therapy: Second Edition. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 49–59

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 Systems and Synthetic Biology.

Blog post
Hale T (2016) The Helmeted Hornbill Is The Latest “Trend” In The Illegal Wildlife Trade. In: IFLScience. Accessed 30 Oct 2018


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 (2000) Mass Transit: Review of the South Boston Piers Transitway Finance Plan. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Martin JC (2008) Tbx18 and the epicardium in cardiac development and regenerative medicine. Doctoral dissertation, University of California San Diego

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
Garner D (2017) The Cold War Heats Up Again. New York Times C1

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Smaglik 2004).
This sentence cites two references (Smaglik 2004; Chang and Lingner 2008).

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

  • Two authors: (Chang and Lingner 2008)
  • Three or more authors: (Ebihara et al. 2011)

About the journal

Full journal titleSystems and Synthetic Biology
AbbreviationSyst. Synth. Biol.
ISSN (print)1872-5325
ISSN (online)1872-5333
Molecular Biology

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