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
Stein, L. 2002, Nature, 417, 119
A journal article with 2 authors
Webb, D. J., & Suginohara, N. 2001, Nature, 409, 37
A journal article with 3 authors
Totan, Y., Güler, E., & Dervişoğulları, M. S. 2014, Sci Rep, 4, 3956
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Chang, C., Wu, M., He, D., et al. 2018, Science, 360, 778

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
McCallum, H. 2008, Population Parameters: Estimation for Ecological Models (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Science Ltd)
An edited book
Casares-Giner, V., Manzoni, P., & Pont, A. 2011, NETWORKING 2011 Workshops: International IFIP TC 6 Workshops, PE-CRN, NC-Pro, WCNS, and SUNSET 2011, Held at NETWORKING 2011, Valencia, Spain, May 13, 2011, Revised Selected Papers, Vol. 6827 (Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer)
A chapter in an edited book
Räikkä, J. 2008, in Genetic Democracy: Philosophical Perspectives, ed. V. Launis, & J. Räikkä (Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands), 43

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. 1989, [Comments on Special Legislative Provision Concerning Compensation for Reemployed Retired Air Traffic Controllers] (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
Hume, D. M. 2010, The reader as collaborator in Coleridge’s fragments “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, “Christabel,” and “Kubla Khan”: Kindling “Native flames” rather than reflecting “Alien fires” (Long Beach, CA: California State University, Long Beach)

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
Kovaleski, S. F. 2015, New York Times, C1

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Stein 2002).
This sentence cites two references (Stein 2002; Webb & Suginohara 2001).

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

  • Two authors: (Webb & Suginohara 2001)
  • Three or more authors: (Chang et al. 2018)

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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