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Citation Styles for the Sciences

CSE Style

CSE (Council of Science Editors) Style is the citation standard commonly used in the natural sciences, which includes the biological sciences. There are three documentation systems used in CSE, so be sure to ask your professor which system you are supposed to be citing for your paper.


Citation-Sequence System

In the citation-sequence system, in-text references are cited with sequential superscript numbers, such as this1. If you are citing more than one reference within a sentence, you can use a superscript sequence of numbers, like this2,3. In the references, list the citations in the numerical order that they appear in your paper.

Citation-Name System

As in the citation-sequence system, superscript numbers are inserted at the point of reference. However, when you're organizing your reference list, you will first alphabetize all the citations by authors' last names, then number them in your paper by the order they appear in the list of references.

Name-Year System

In the name-year system, citations are inserted in your paper using the in-text style, which includes the author's name and year of publication within parentheses, such as (Jefferson 2009). In the list of references, alphabetize all the citations by the authors' last names.

CSE Citation Format

  • Reference lists are organized based on the documentation system you are using.
    • Citation-Sequence system: List the citation in the numerical order that it appears in your paper.
    • Citation-Name system: Alphabetize all the citations by authors' last names, then number them in your paper by the order they appear in the list of references.
    • Name-Year system: Alphabetize all the citations by the authors' last names.
  • All lines are flush with the left margin. Hanging indentations are not used.
  • Authors' last names are listed first, then the first and middle initial. No commas are used in between the last name and first initial. Additionally, no periods are used in between initials.
  • Use all authors' names if a work has up to ten authors listed. If more than ten authors are listed, list the first ten names, followed by a comma and et al.
  • Only the first word and proper names in a book or journal title are capitalized.
  • Journal titles that consist of more than one word are abbreviated. All the words in abbreviated journal titles are capitalized.