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
Barnes N (2010) Publish your computer code: it is good enough. Nature 467:753
A journal article with 2 authors
Bermingham E, Dick C (2001) Ecology and evolution. The Inga--newcomer or museum antiquity? Science 293:2214–2216
A journal article with 3 authors
Arnaud-Haond S, Arrieta JM, Duarte CM (2011) Global genetic resources. Marine biodiversity and gene patents. Science 331:1521–1522
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Xing G-F, Wang X-L, Wan Y, et al (2014) Diversity in early crustal evolution: 4100 Ma zircons in the Cathaysia Block of southern China. Sci Rep 4:5143

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Fu F (2015) Advanced Modelling Techniques in Structural Design. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK
An edited book
Gupta AK (2013) Elliptically Contoured Models in Statistics and Portfolio Theory, 2nd ed. 2013. Springer, New York, NY
A chapter in an edited book
Ogata T, Kawashima N, Nakazawa K, Akai M (2011) Molecular and Electrophysiological Approaches for Functional Recovery in Patients with Injured Spinal Cord. In: Kansaku K, Cohen LG (eds) Systems Neuroscience and Rehabilitation. Springer Japan, Tokyo, pp 69–78

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
Andrew D (2017) The Definitive, Scientific Answers To 20 Health Questions Everyone Has. 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 (1974) Head Start Program. 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
Munim A (2013) Studies on the role of vitamin D in asthma patients from a south Florida pulmonary practice. Doctoral dissertation, Florida Atlantic University

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
Rich N (2012) Jungleland. New York Times MM32

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Barnes 2010).
This sentence cites two references (Bermingham and Dick 2001; Barnes 2010).

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

  • Two authors: (Bermingham and Dick 2001)
  • Three or more authors: (Xing et al. 2014)

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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