I'm at a bit of a loss with the bibtex format required for the purpose of submitting a manuscript to Proteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics. According to the guide for authors, I need to:

Follow the guidelines in CBE Style Manual Committee. CBE style manual: a guide for authors, editors, and publishers in the biological sciences. 5th ed. rev. and expanded. Bethesda, MD: Council of Biology Editors, Inc.; 1983.

Yet, their example of a preferred reference layout is:


  1. King VM, Armstrong DM, Apps R, Trott JR. Numerical aspects of pontine, lateral reticular, and inferior olivary projections to two paravermal cortical zones of the cat cerebellum. J Comp Neurol 1998;390:537-551.

Firstly, in text indexing for references according to CBE uses (surname Year), whilst the guide for authors insists on [#]. Secondly, the preferred reference layout is not the CBE. I've found a CBE bibtex style file but, again, it produces a CBE layout and not the layout that the journal is after. The journal does not provide style files, and I've had no success contacting their pre-editor team.

I have a fair amount of experience working with LaTeX using the appropriate style files for the job at hand, however, I have no idea how to go about producing my very own BibTeX style file to match what the journal wants. Nor can I find an existing style file that matches exactly. If I was to type out the journal name and author names exactly as they should be displayed and only supply the necessary numerics (issue, volume etc...), is there an easy way of reproducing this style, for example, my own very dumb style file?

Many thanks for your help.

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    Honestly, I would just disregard these finer points for the initial submission and see how they deal with it. All reasonably advanced publishers won't use your formatting these days anyways; instead, they will match your references against their database, and then pull them out with hyperlinks and other formatting applied. As long as the information in your citations is reasonably complete, that should work. Also, for the upload, I would just stick the thebibliography environment generated by bibtex into the main file. Saves one step on their end that might break. Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 19:49
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    Hi Michael, thanks for your reply. Under most circumstances, I would agree with you, but the loose reference format of an initial submission is the reason why I am here. November just past, I had the very unpleasant experience of having three manuscript submissions bounced back by the pre-editor team. Each bounce was due to a minor mistake (me)/misunderstanding (them - an out of date web page). Thankfully, at this stage, I can resubmit with no harm done, but it burns up hours of effort. Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 20:51
  • I see the following options: 1. Wrestle with bst files. 2. Use biblatex. It is quite flexible and lets you modify the format using LaTeX macros, but it does taks some getting used to. 3. Use a bst file that comes close to what you need, and then just manually fix up the content of the thebibliography environment that bibtex generates. Store the hand-edited version in a safe place to prevent accidental clobbering by another bibtex run. That may be annoying, but the time required is more predictable. Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 21:12
  • Either these are key journals in your field and figure they can get away with anything or they are not very serious about the quality of submissions or their longevity. Requiring this at initial submission is obnoxious: it says your time has no value at all. Failing to even clarify what they actually demand you spend your (worthless) time on is even worse. If they won't respond and they haven't provided usable instructions, I don't see what you can do except ask around to see what others have had accepted.
    – cfr
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 2:39
  • Thank you, cfr and Michael, for your comments. I think, with many journals in my fields being inundated with author submissions, they call the shots. On Michael's suggestion, I'll find a bst that comes close to what I need, and manually fix up the content. It'll be a bit of a learning curve. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 6:15

1 Answer 1


One way of producing your own simple BibTeX style file is to use

latex makebst

This will take you through a rather long series of questions, and allows you to choose from a set of possible options for each question. This is somewhat time-consuming since you cannot skip any questions, but the good thing is that if you do not care or are unsure, you can press enter to choose the default options.


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