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
Feldstein, S. B. 2011. Atmospheric science. Subtropical rainfall and the Antarctic ozone hole. Science (New York, N.Y.) 332:925–926.
A journal article with 2 authors
Groves, J. T., and N. C. Boaz. 2014. Biochemistry. Fishing for peroxidase protons. Science (New York, N.Y.) 345:142–143.
A journal article with 3 authors
Brown, M. E., A. H. Bouchez, and C. A. Griffith. 2002. Direct detection of variable tropospheric clouds near Titan’s south pole. Nature 420:795–797.
A journal article with 8 or more authors
Stricker, J., S. Cookson, M. R. Bennett, W. H. Mather, L. S. Tsimring, and J. Hasty. 2008. A fast, robust and tunable synthetic gene oscillator. Nature 456:516–519.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Ancheyta, J. 2011. Modeling and Simulation of Catalytic Reactors for Petroleum Refining. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.
An edited book
Pederzoli, P., and C. Bassi, eds. 2013. Uncommon Pancreatic Neoplasms: In collaboration with Massimo Falconi, Roberto Salvia and Giovanni Butturini. Updates in Surgery. Springer, Milano.
A chapter in an edited book
Piirainen, K. A., and R. O. Briggs. 2011. Design Theory in Practice – Making Design Science Research More Transparent. Pages 47–61 in H. Jain, A. P. Sinha, and P. Vitharana, eds. Service-Oriented Perspectives in Design Science Research: 6th International Conference, DESRIST 2011, Milwaukee, WI, USA, May 5-6, 2011. Proceedings, Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 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
Fang, J. 2015. See-Through Shrimp-Like Creature Has a Dozen Retinas in Each Eye. 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. 2009. United States Merchant Marine Academy: Internal Control Weaknesses Resulted in Improper Sources and Uses of Funds; Some Corrective Actions Are Under Way (No. GAO-09-635). 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
Baudy, A. R. 2010. Efficacy of glucocorticoids in muscular dystrophy: Signaling, hormonal activities, and muscle inflammation (Doctoral dissertation). George Washington University, Washington, DC.

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
Shear, M. D. 2017. President Issues Terms of a Deal Over ‘Dreamers.’ New York Times, p. A1.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Feldstein 2011).
This sentence cites two references (Feldstein 2011; Groves and Boaz 2014).

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

  • Two authors: (Groves and Boaz 2014)
  • Three or more authors: (Stricker 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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