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
Passey BH (2015) Geochemistry. Biogeochemical tales told by isotope clumps. Science 348:394–395
A journal article with 2 authors
Flint J, Munafò M (2014) Schizophrenia: genesis of a complex disease. Nature 511:412–413
A journal article with 3 authors
Tuljapurkar S, Li N, Boe C (2000) A universal pattern of mortality decline in the G7 countries. Nature 405:789–792
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Ajami D, Oeckler O, Simon A, Herges R (2003) Synthesis of a Möbius aromatic hydrocarbon. Nature 426:819–821

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Yang J (2007) Six-Membered Transition States in Organic Synthesis. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ
An edited book
Lendeckel U, Hooper NM (eds) (2005) Proteases In The Brain. Springer US, Boston, MA
A chapter in an edited book
Fileni A, Galletti G, Mirk P (2012) La comunicazione radiologica odierna. In: Schiavon F, Guglielmi G, Rotondo A (eds) La comunicazione radiologica nella società del benessere. Springer, Milano, pp 37–44

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
Taub B (2016) Researchers Have Figured Out Why Thalidomide Causes Birth Defects. 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 (1980) An Analysis of Concerns in Federal Education Programs: Duplication of Services and Administrative Costs. 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
Warwick-Smith KM (2017) Remembering Prudence: Tracking the Iconography of a Cardinal Virtue to Her Resurgence in Depth Psychology. Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute

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
Vecsey G (2010) Harkes Knows the Feeling of Having to Sit Out an Important Match. New York Times B11

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Passey 2015).
This sentence cites two references (Flint and Munafò 2014; Passey 2015).

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

  • Two authors: (Flint and Munafò 2014)
  • Three or more authors: (Ajami et al. 2003)

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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