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Citation Style Guide

This guide was created to provide basic instruction on commonly-used citation styles across the faculties of Dalhousie University.

CSE Citation Style

The CSE style originated in the 1960s, when it was known as the Council of Biology Editors (CBE) style. It was intended to provide style and format guidelines for editors of peer-reviewed biology journals. Over the decades, its scope grew to include many fields of scientific research in both the life sciences and physical sciences. In 2000, the organization became known as the Council of Science Editors (CSE). The style then became known as the CSE style. 

In a reference list prepared in CSE style:

  • journal titles are abbreviated, but no periods are used in the abbreviation. (eg. J Exp Biol)
  • author initials (without periods) are used instead of the author’s given names
  • The last author name within a reference is connected to the others by a comma instead of using the word “and” or an ampersand (“&”).
  • references are formatted using a “hanging” indent.

CSE style allows you to select from one of three systems to cite sources:

  • Citation-Name: Uses superscript numerals to identify in-text citations. In the alphabetized reference list, each numeral corresponds with a unique reference.
  • Citation-Sequence: Uses superscript numerals to identify in-text citations. In the reference list, sources are numbered sequentially by the order in which they appear in the text (so they may not be in alphabetical order by author).
  • Name-Year: Uses parenthetical in-text citations that include author name and the year of publication. The reference list is ordered alphabetically by author name. 

In-text Citation with CSE

The Name-Year system is recommended by many professors in the Dalhousie Department of Biology, but if you're not sure which system to use, be sure to check.

Author's Last Name, Publication Year

(McToad 2010)

All of these pieces must match the corresponding reference list entry exactly!

Example in-text citations, from fictional authors and sources:

Research has shown that the demographic of the fly is a key determining factor in the robustness of its flavour (Frog 1998).

You could also place part of the citation in the text as follows:

As mentioned in Frog's seminal article (1998), the demographic of the fly is a key determining factor in the robustness of its flavour.

In this example, the author's name is mentioned in the text itself; therefore the name need not be repeated in the bracketed citation.

Each in-text citation must be associated with an item in a comprehensive list of references at the end of your paper.  Pay attention to your formatting when constructing your reference list. While CSE is not as particular as other citation styles, losing points on an assignment for poorly formatted citations is easily avoided. 

The References Page:

Documents using the CSE style of citation must contain a "References" page at the end of the text. The following are some examples of how to cite commonly used references:


Frog RA. 1998. Expert's guide to artisanal fly cuisine. 2nd ed. Halifax (NS): Imaginary Publishing Inc.

Book, journal and website titles are in sentence case!

Journal Article

Frog RA. 1997. The biology of delicious fly cuisine: enzymes and their mechanisms of actions. Eur J Biochem. 130:(4)435-445.

Journal names are abbreviated!


Ribbit TF. 1998. The life and legacy of Ribbit Frog: a culinary biography. New London (CT): Frog and Toad's Center for Special Collections and Archives; [accessed 2015 Aug 18].

Make sure to include the date accessed!

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