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

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for The Astrophysical 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
Waters, A. P. 2003, Science, 301, 1487
A journal article with 2 authors
Webb, D. J., & Suginohara, N. 2001, Nature, 409, 37
A journal article with 3 authors
Kim, S., Ubel, P., & De Vries, R. 2009, Nature, 457, 534
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Polynkin, P., Kolesik, M., Moloney, J. V., Siviloglou, G. A., & Christodoulides, D. N. 2009, Science, 324, 229

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Roy, D., & Rao, G. V. 2012, Elements of Structural Dynamics (Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd)
An edited book
Liverneaux, P. A., Berner, S. H., Bednar, M. S., et al. 2013, Telemicrosurgery: Robot Assisted Microsurgery (Paris: Springer)
A chapter in an edited book
Ahrend, R. 2006, in Return to Growth in CIS Countries: Monetary Policy and Macroeconomic Framework, ed. L. Vinhas de Souza, & O. Havrylyshyn (Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer), 90

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 Astrophysical Journal.

Blog post
Andrew, E. 2014, 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. 1999, General Aviation Airports: Unauthorized Land Use Highlights Need for Improved Oversight and Enforcement (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
Ryan, B. A. 2012, Computer-Based Versus Paper-Pencil Modes of Administration United States Government End of Course Exams: Student Cumulative Grade Point Averages as Predictors of Success ( St. Charles, MO: Lindenwood 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
Pilon, M. 2013, New York Times, D8

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Waters 2003).
This sentence cites two references (Waters 2003; Webb & Suginohara 2001).

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

  • Two authors: (Webb & Suginohara 2001)
  • Three or more authors: (Polynkin et al. 2009)

About the journal

Full journal titleThe Astrophysical Journal
AbbreviationAstrophys. J.
ISSN (print)0004-637X
ISSN (online)1538-4357
ScopeSpace and Planetary Science
Astronomy and Astrophysics

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