How to format your references using the The Astronomical Journal citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for The Astronomical Journal. 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
Bird, A. 2001, Science, 294, 2113
A journal article with 2 authors
DeConto, R. M., & Pollard, D. 2003, Nature, 421, 245
A journal article with 3 authors
Martin, A., Baker, T. A., & Sauer, R. T. 2005, Nature, 437, 1115
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Yung, M.-H., Casanova, J., Mezzacapo, A., et al. 2014, Sci Rep, 4, 3589

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Bauldry, W. C. 2009, Introduction to Real Analysis (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.)
An edited book
Shindé, S. L., & Goela, J. S. 2006, High Thermal Conductivity Materials (New York, NY: Springer)
A chapter in an edited book
Ratnadass, A., Blanchart, É., & Lecomte, P. 2013, in Cultivating Biodiversity to Transform Agriculture, ed. É. Hainzelin (Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands), 141

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 Astronomical Journal.


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. 2013, Data Center Consolidation: Strengthened Oversight Needed to Achieve Cost Savings Goal (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office)

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Watson, D. J. 2010, How the Lead Systems Integrator Experience Should Enhance Efforts to Rebuild the Defense Acquisition Workforce (Washington, DC: George Washington 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
Stewart, J. B. 2017, New York Times, B1

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Bird 2001).
This sentence cites two references (Bird 2001; DeConto & Pollard 2003).

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

  • Two authors: (DeConto & Pollard 2003)
  • Three or more authors: (Yung et al. 2014)

About the journal

Full journal titleThe Astronomical Journal
AbbreviationAstron. J.
ISSN (print)0004-6256
ISSN (online)1538-3881
ScopeSpace and Planetary Science
Astronomy and Astrophysics

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