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
Marx, V. 2012. High-throughput anatomy: Charting the brain’s networks. Nature 490:293–298.
A journal article with 2 authors
Vafai, S. B., and V. K. Mootha. 2012. Mitochondrial disorders as windows into an ancient organelle. Nature 491:374–383.
A journal article with 3 authors
Bo, T.-L., H. Zhang, and X.-J. Zheng. 2014. Charge-to-mass ratio of saltating particles in wind-blown sand. Scientific reports 4:5590.
A journal article with 8 or more authors
Lebreton, A., R. Tomecki, A. Dziembowski, and B. Séraphin. 2008. Endonucleolytic RNA cleavage by a eukaryotic exosome. Nature 456:993–996.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Reinhard, P.-G., and E. Suraud. 2008. Introduction to Cluster Dynamics. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH, Weinheim, Germany.
An edited book
Völlm, B., and N. Nedopil, eds. 2016. The Use of Coercive Measures in Forensic Psychiatric Care: Legal, Ethical and Practical Challenges. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
A chapter in an edited book
Sovacool, B. K., and B.-O. Linnér. 2016. Bloated Bodies: The Political Economy of Hurricane Katrina Recovery. Pages 81–109 in B.-O. Linnér, ed. The Political Economy of Climate Change Adaptation. Palgrave Macmillan UK, London.

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
Andrew, D. 2016. 25 Images Of Earth That Put The Presidential Election Into Humbling Focus. 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. 1991. Direct Student Loans Could Save Money and Simplify Program Administration (No. T-HRD-92-8). 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
Myers, R. E. 2010. Moderating the effectiveness of messages to promote physical activity in type 2 diabetes (Doctoral dissertation). University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.

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
St. John Kelly, E. 1998. Bikes That Roll Toward Jobs. New York Times, p. 149.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Marx 2012).
This sentence cites two references (Marx 2012; Vafai and Mootha 2012).

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

  • Two authors: (Vafai and Mootha 2012)
  • Three or more authors: (Lebreton et al. 2008)

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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