How to format your references using the The American Naturalist citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for The American Naturalist. 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
Pickett, C. J. 2014. Biochemistry. Making the H-cluster from scratch. Science (New York, N.Y.) 343:378–379.
A journal article with 2 authors
Reilly, S. M., and T. D. White. 2003. Hypaxial motor patterns and the function of epipubic bones in primitive mammals. Science (New York, N.Y.) 299:400–402.
A journal article with 3 authors
Parker, J. S., S. M. Roe, and D. Barford. 2005. Structural insights into mRNA recognition from a PIWI domain-siRNA guide complex. Nature 434:663–666.
A journal article with 8 or more authors
Pellikka, M., G. Tanentzapf, M. Pinto, C. Smith, C. J. McGlade, D. F. Ready, and U. Tepass. 2002. Crumbs, the Drosophila homologue of human CRB1/RP12, is essential for photoreceptor morphogenesis. Nature 416:143–149.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Carver, R. H., and K.-C. Tai. 2005. Modern Multithreading. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.
An edited book
Hoffstein, J. 2014. An Introduction to Mathematical Cryptography. (J. Pipher & J. H. Silverman, eds.)Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics (2nd ed. 2014.). Springer, New York, NY.
A chapter in an edited book
Kreinovich, V., and M. Shpak. 2008. Decomposable Aggregability in Population Genetics and Evolutionary Computations: Algorithms and Computational Complexity. Pages 69–92 in A. Kelemen, A. Abraham, and Y. Liang, eds. Computational Intelligence in Medical Informatics, Studies in Computational Intelligence. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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 The American Naturalist.

Blog post
Hamilton, K. 2014. Jaguar Tastes The Hallucinogenic Effects Of Yage. IFLScience. IFLScience.


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. 1977. Improved Management of Computer Resources Needed To Enhance Marine Corps’ Efficiency and Effectiveness (No. LCD-76-124). 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
Morr, R. 2015. Age Discrimination: Prejudice Suppression in the Selection Process (Doctoral dissertation). Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL.

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
Austen, I., and M. M. Chapman. 2015. A Slow Thaw for the Great Lakes. New York Times, p. B1.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Pickett 2014).
This sentence cites two references (Reilly and White 2003; Pickett 2014).

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

  • Two authors: (Reilly and White 2003)
  • Three or more authors: (Pellikka et al. 2002)

About the journal

Full journal titleThe American Naturalist
AbbreviationAm. Nat.
ISSN (print)0003-0147
ISSN (online)1537-5323
ScopeEcology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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