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Subject Guides

Genetics: Referencing Guide

Referencing style for Genetics Graduates and Undergraduates

There is no single recommended style for Postgraduate theses, dissertations, or any of your interim reports in the Genetics Department  :  You should ask your Supervisor what style they recommend. Consistency is the key requirement. If your Supervisor expresses no preference, stick to a well-known international standard, such as Harvard. 

Undergraduates are required to use the 'Cell' format for their Assessed Essay and Project report. Details of this style can be found in Cell Press instructions to authors at

However, you don't need to worry about reference formatting! Reference Management Software [see box below] will format your references in the required style and keep them consistent. Each Ref Management system has a range of default styles for you to choose from. If you cannot find the style your Supervisor requires in the default list, you can usually find it in a list of supplementary styles which can be downloaded for free.

Those who are really concerned about referencing styles might like to check out CiteThemRight

More Referencing help : Reference Management Software

Reference Management Software is not only useful for creating bibliographies, or dropping references into your text : it will help you organise and keep tabs on all that 'stuff' you have to read, and format the references for you in the style required - whether they are for a journal paper, book, website, whatever.

Zotero is the easiest to use, and is free. Mendeley is very popular with scientists and is also free. EndNoteWeb is linked to the University's subscription to Web of Science, so whilst it is free during your registered time at Cambridge, you lose access when you leave. There are many other systems you can use - some are free and some not. Wikipedia runs a comparison of what they offer on

How to choose? The choice of which RMS is better for you could be dependent on what database you use to search for references - some link seamlessly so that you can drop selected references found in a search straight into your personal list, some do not. See my guide below on which link best. You could also ask lab colleagues or friends what they use - knowing a relative 'expert' is helpful! However, as it is better to get into the habit of using an RMS right from the beginning [as well as the habit of being organised!], choose anything for now - you can transfer your references to another one later if necessary.

We have LibGuides on Ref Management Software: Reference Management in general [tips and tools tab]  |   Mendeley  Zotero

The University Information Services run occasional short courses [under the theme Bibliographic Software] - check if any are running at a convenient time for you here. There are guidelines and help facilities linked from the main RMSs. Many other universities also produce useful help sheets - Googling will find them.


The fact that you have clearly indicated that information you have given comes from somewhere else, and you are not claiming it as your own, is more important that the style in which the reference is represented.

We now have a LibGuide on plagiarism.

Here is some further help from the University: