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
Press, F. 2008, Nature, 451, 301
A journal article with 2 authors
Süsstrunk, R., & Huber, S. D. 2015, Science, 349, 47
A journal article with 3 authors
Schaedler, T. A., Jacobsen, A. J., & Carter, W. B. 2013, Science, 341, 1181
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Knipscheer, P., Räschle, M., Smogorzewska, A., et al. 2009, Science, 326, 1698

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Grinyer, A. 2012, Palliative and End of Life Care for Children and Young People (West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.)
An edited book
Morgado, A. 2012, Nanometer CMOS Sigma-Delta Modulators for Software Defined Radio (New York, NY: Springer)
A chapter in an edited book
Prins, C., & Bouchenoua, S. 2005, in Recent Advances in Memetic Algorithms, ed. W. E. Hart, J. E. Smith, & N. Krasnogor (Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer), 65

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


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. 2000, Space Shuttle: Human Capital and Safety Upgrade Challenges Require Continued Attention (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
Nguyen, H. M. 2009, Valuation effects and external adjustment (College Park, MD: University of Maryland, College Park)

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
Greenhouse, L. 2007, New York Times, A20

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Press 2008).
This sentence cites two references (Press 2008; Süsstrunk & Huber 2015).

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

  • Two authors: (Süsstrunk & Huber 2015)
  • Three or more authors: (Knipscheer 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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