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
Mac Low, M.-M. 2013, Science, 340, 1229229
A journal article with 2 authors
Chiappe, L. M., & Bertelli, S. 2006, Nature, 443, 929
A journal article with 3 authors
Whitfield, C. W., Cziko, A.-M., & Robinson, G. E. 2003, Science, 302, 296
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Falck, J., Mailand, N., Syljuåsen, R. G., Bartek, J., & Lukas, J. 2001, Nature, 410, 842

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Jeong, H. 2014, Architectures for Computer Vision (Singapore: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd)
An edited book
Sporleder, C., Bosch, A. van D., & Zervanou, K. 2011, Language Technology for Cultural Heritage: Selected Papers from the LaTeCH Workshop Series (Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer)
A chapter in an edited book
Wang, Y., & Jung, T.-P. 2013, in Towards Practical Brain-Computer Interfaces: Bridging the Gap from Research to Real-World Applications, ed. B. Z. Allison, S. Dunne, R. Leeb, J. Del R. Millán, & A. Nijholt (Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer), 67

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.

Blog post
O`Callaghan, J. 2017, 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. 2010, Aviation Security: DHS Has Taken Steps to Enhance International Aviation Security and Facilitate Compliance with International Standards, but Challenges Remain (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
Djajalaksana, Y. M. 2011, A National Survey of Instructional Strategies Used to Teach Information Systems Courses: An Exploratory Investigation (Tampa, FL: University of South Florida)

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, New York Times, A1

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Mac Low 2013).
This sentence cites two references (Chiappe & Bertelli 2006; Mac Low 2013).

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

  • Two authors: (Chiappe & Bertelli 2006)
  • Three or more authors: (Falck et al. 2001)

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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