Science Reference Style

Science includes titles in references. These are displayed in the online HTML version, but not in the print or the PDF versions of papers.

Science uses a numbering system for references and notes. This allows explanatory or more detailed notes to be included with the references. Journal names are abbreviated using common abbreviations to save space.

On this page, we offer some guidelines for preparing manuscript reference lists in Science style. For additional examples, see recent issues of Science.

General Notes

  • Place citation numbers for references and notes within parentheses, italicized: (18, 19) (18-20) (18, 20-22). Do not use superscript numbers. Citations are numbered sequentially, first in the text, then through the references and notes, then through the figure and table captions, and finally through the Supplementary Materials. The acknowledgments follow as an unnumbered note.
  • Each reference can be listed only once. Separate individual references from other references and from any text notes. Each reference should have its own number and not include other text.
  • In general we do not allow reference to personal communications. In the limited cases where they can be used, the personal communication should be given a number in the text and placed, in correct sequence, in the references and notes. It must be accompanied by a written letter of permission. At the time of publication, all cited references must be published. Papers that are "in press" can be cited in a submission, but the paper must be available to provide to reviewers, and an accepted paper will be held until all references are published. Data supporting the results or conclusions should be included in the paper or Supplementary Materials or must be archived in an appropriate database at the time of publication and made available for reviewers.
  • Notes should be used for information aimed at the specialist (e.g., procedures) or to provide definitions or further information to the general reader that are not essential to the data or arguments. Notes can cite other references (by number).
  • Please do not place tables within notes.
  • Materials and methods in the Supplementary Materials, should be cited (wherever appropriate) as a single numbered note in the text, in the same fashion as other notes. For the note, use a form such as this: "Information on materials and methods is available at the Science Web site." (The correct Web address will be appended by Science staff.) For information on how to reference other Supplementary Materials in the manuscript text, please see our specific guidelines on this material.
  • There should be one reference list that includes papers cited in the main paper and then papers cited only within the Supplementary Materials. Citations in the Supplementary Materials can cite papers already cited in the main paper by number. We will include the full reference list online.
  • For cited papers that have been published only electronically, please include the DOI.

Creating the Reference List

For journal articles, list initials first for all authors, separated by a space: A. B. Opus, B. C. Hobbs. Do not use "and." Use et al. (italics) for more than five authors. Titles of cited articles can now be included, with words in lower case except for proper nouns, followed by a period (see samples). Journal titles are in italics; volume numbers follow, in boldface. Do not place a comma before the volume number or before any parentheses. You may give the full inclusive pages of the article. Journal years are in parentheses: (1996). End each listing with a period. Do not use ibid. or op. cit. (these cannot be linked online).

For whole books, monographs, memos, or reports, the style for author or editor names is as above; for edited books, insert "Ed.," or "Eds.," before the title. Italicize the book title and use initial caps. After the title, provide (in parentheses) the publisher name, publisher location, edition number (if any), and year. If these are unavailable, or if the work is unpublished, please provide all information needed for a reader to locate the work; this may include a URL or a Web or FTP address. For unpublished proceedings or symposia, supply the title of meeting, location, inclusive dates, and sponsoring organization. There is no need to supply the total page count. If the book is part of a series, indicate this after the title (e.g., vol. 23 of Springer Series in Molecular Biology).

For chapters in edited books, the style is as above, except that "in" appears before the title, and the names of the editors appear after the title. After the information in parentheses, provide the complete page number range (or chapter number) of the cited material.

For research first published in Science Express, online journals, and preprints available on the Internet, see the examples below. These are considered published work.

Acknowledgmentsare a brief statement at the end of the references and notes labeled "Acknowledgments." The acknowledgement note is no longer numbered. It should comprise the following:

  • A brief list of all funding information for the results reported in the paper.
  • A statement indicating or describing where the data reported in the paper are available including accession numbers. (For example, "The data reported in this paper are tabulated in the Supplementary Materials and archived at the following databases….")
  • Any clarification regarding conflicts of interest of the authors.
  • An optional note describing the roles or responsibilities of the authors.

Style Examples


1. N. Tang, On the equilibrium partial pressures of nitric acid and ammonia in the atmosphere. Atmos. Environ.14, 819-834 (1980). [one author]

2. William R. Harvey, Signe Nedergaard, Sodium-independent active transport of potassium in the isolated midgut of the Cecropia silkworm. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.51, 731-735 (1964). [two or more authors]

3. F. H. Chaffee, Jr., The discovery of a gravitational lens. Sci. Am. 243, 60-68 (November 1980). [journal paginated by issue]


1. M. Lister, Fundamentals of Operating Systems (Springer-Verlag, New York, ed. 3, 1984), pp. 7-11. [third edition]

2. J. B. Carroll, Ed., Language, Thought and Reality, Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1956).

3. R. Davis, J. King, in Machine Intelligence, E. Acock, D. Michie, Eds. (Wiley, New York, 1976), vol. 8, chap. 3. [use short form of publisher name, not "John Wiley & Sons"]

4. D. Curtis et al., in Clinical Neurology of Development, B. Walters, Ed. (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1983), pp. 60-73. [use "Univ."]

5. Principles and Procedures for Evaluating the Toxicity of Household Substances (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, 1977). [organization as author and publisher]

Technical reports

1. G. B. Shaw, "Practical uses of litmus paper in Möbius strips" (Tech. Rep. CUCS-29-82, Columbia Univ., New York, 1982).

2. F. Press, "A report on the computational needs for physics" (National Science Foundation, Washington, DC, 1981). [unpublished or access by title]

3. "Assessment of the carcinogenicity and mutagenicity of chemicals," WHO Tech. Rep. Ser. No. 556 (1974). [no author]

4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Environmental Protection Agency's White Paper on Bt Plant-Pesticide Resistance Management (EPA Publication 739-S-98-001, 1998; [the easiest access to this source is by Internet]

Paper presented at a meeting (not published)

1. M. Konishi, paper presented at the 14th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Anaheim, CA, 10 October 1984. [sponsoring organization should be mentioned if it is not part of the meeting name]

Theses and personal communications

1. B. Smith, thesis, Georgetown University (1973).

2. G. Reuter, personal communication. [Must be accompanied with a letter of permission and must not be used to support a central claim, result, or conclusion.]

Science Express publications

See online instructions for citing articles in Science Express

Science Signaling/STKE and the SAGE KE Archive

For citations guidelines for Science Signaling (and for pre-2008 articles on the Signal Transduction Knowledge Environment), please see that site's online instructions. These instructions can also be used for citing articles from the Science of Aging Knowledge Environment archive.


1. A. Smette et al., Astrophys. J., in press (available at [if now published, omit the URL and provide only a standard reference]

2. K. Abe et al., Phys. Rev. Lett., in press (available at

Published Online Only

1. N. H. Sleep, Stagnant lid convection and carbonate metasomatism of the deep continental lithosphere. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 10, Q11010 (2009), doi:10.1029/2009GC002702.