The Vancouver Style is formally known as Recommendations for the realization, presentation, editing and publication of academic papers in medical journals. It was developed in Vancouver in 1978 by medical journal editors and more than 1,000 medical journals (including ICMJE members BMJ, CMAJ, JAMA and NEJM) use this style. This user guide explains how to cite references in the Vancouver style, both within the text of an article and in a list of references, and gives examples of the most commonly used reference types.

It consists of:

  • Quotations from foreign works in the text, indicated by the use of a number.
  • A sequentially numbered list of references at the end of the document that provides full details of the corresponding reference in the text.

It follows the standards set by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, which is now maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It is also known as Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals.

This guide is modeled after Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (2nd edition). You can refer directly to this source for additional information or examples.

Quotations in the text

Placement of citations

The numbers of the quotations in the text should be placed after the relevant part of the sentence. The original Vancouver-style documents do not talk about the placement of the citation in the text with respect to the score, so it is acceptable to place it before or after the point. Be consistent.

References are numbered consecutively in the order in which they are first mentioned. Place each reference number in parentheses in all text, tables, and legends. If the same reference is reused, reuse the original number. (See number 3 in the table below).

Tables are numbered consecutively. Provide a short title for each table and give each column a short title. Make sure that the table is mentioned in the text. If the data comes from another source, include the font in the list of references at the end of the document. Place the explanations in a note, not in the title.

Personal communications used as a reference should be avoided unless they provide essential information that is not available from a public source. These can be emails, face-to-face interviews, phone conversations, class notes, unpublished class brochures, etc. Do not include them in the list of references, as they are not recoverable by others; instead, cite the person’s name and date of communication in parentheses in the text.

Internet sources
can eventually be deleted, modified, or moved, so it’s a good idea to keep a hard copy for your files. Also, be careful to critically evaluate the reliability of the information.


Recently, the health sciences community has reduced the bias and imprecision of traditional bibliographic abstracts by developing rigorous criteria for both bibliographic abstracts (1-3) and practice guides (4,5). However, even when recommendations come from these rigorous approaches, “it is important to differentiate those based on weak evidence from strong ones” (6). Recommendations based on inadequate evidence often require their reversal when sufficient data are available (John Doe, 1 April 2002) while timely implementation of recommendations based on solid evidence can save lives (3).

Quotations of 3 lines or less are enclosed in quotation marks (before and after). Citations larger than 3 lines should have their own indented paragraph, without quotation marks.


Short quote: “It is permissible to cite, word for word, a source, but in most disciplines it should be done sparingly” (5, p. 143).

Short quote (the author’s name is integrated into the text): Day states that “it is permissible to quote, word for word, from a source, but in most disciplines, this should be done sparingly” (5, p. 143).

Indirect quotations (paraphrase)

An indirect quotation (paraphrase) is a reformulation of the original text.

Example: Furseth and Everett (4) argue that the main reason for the use of citations and the reference list is the idea of research as a collective effort. Research must be verifiable, and those who read your work must be able to find the sources on which your material is based.

Personal communications

Personal communications can be telephone conversations, emails and the like. Also, personal communications are not usually included in the reference list, but are cited only in the text. Example: (RS Grant, letter, May 10, 2016) … Get permission from the person cited. Check with your teacher if personal communications are suitable for use in your work.

Secondary sources

When you use secondary fonts, identify the primary font and cite the secondary font in the text. Example: According to Newman’s research, cited in Higgins (5) … In the list of references, provide an entry for the secondary source that you read.

Single reference

References in text, tables, and legends must be numbered consecutively in the order in which they are cited in the text by using Arabic numerals in parentheses. The use of Arabic numerals in superscript format is also acceptable, but depends on the requirements of each journal and/or academic department.

Weber (16) noted that ….

Multiple references

When multiple references are cited in the same place in the text of a document, use a hyphen to join the first and last references if they are inclusive. Use commas without spaces to separate unique references.

… on discipline and profession and management many studies (1-4) reported that…

Several studies reported that treatment was ineffective. (1,5,8)

Consider the location of numbers within the text of a document. Use Arabic numerals outside semicolons, within colons, and semicolons.

There are methodological guidelines for etiology studies,(5,7) diagnosis,(8) prognosis,(9) and therapy(10-11).

…such as the intraclass correlation coefficient (49) or the statistic Χ.(50)

Cite specific pages

If an author needs to cite different page numbers from the same reference in different places in the text of a document, they must use the format of the example. Note that the font should appear only once in the reference list.

Weber 23(p56) found that…

What is the difference between the Harvard and Vancouver referencing styles?

The Harvard style uses an author-date system. The sources are cited by the author’s last name and the year of publication in parentheses. Each citation in the Harvard text corresponds to an entry in the list of references sorted alphabetically at the end of the work.

Vancouver referencing uses a number system. Sources are cited with a number in parentheses or in superscript. Each number corresponds to a complete reference at the end of the document.

When should I use a quote in the text in the Vancouver style?

The citation should appear whenever information or ideas from a source are used, either quoting or paraphrasing its content.

In the Vancouver style, you have some flexibility as to where in the sentence the citation number appears: it’s usually best to place it directly after mentioning the author’s name, but it’s also an acceptable alternative to place it at the end of the sentence, as long as it’s clear what it’s referring to.

List of references: General notes

The last page of his work is titled References. References are written in single space, with double spacing between them.


List all references in numerical order, not alphabetical order. Each reference is listed only once, because the same number is used throughout the job.


List each author’s last name followed by a space and then the initials, with no dots; there is a comma and a space between the authors and a period at the end of the last author. If the number of authors is more than six, enter the first six followed by “et al.” (see example 3 on the next page). For edited books, place the names of the publishers in the author position and follow the last editor with a comma and the word publisher (or publishers). For books edited with chapters written by individual authors, list the authors of the chapter first, then the chapter title, followed by “In:”, the names of the publishers, and the title of the book.


Type the first letter of the first word in the title in uppercase. The rest of the title is lowercase, except for proper names. Don’t stress the title; do not use italics. If there is an edition for a book, it appears after the title, abbreviated and followed by a period, for example 3rd ed.

Publication information


After the title (and the edit, if applicable), place a period and a space, and then enter the city. If the city is not well known or there may be confusion, enter the postal abbreviation of the state (U.S.) or province (Canada), or enter the country (elsewhere) of publication, followed by a colon. Enter the name of the publisher as it appears in the publication, followed by a semicolon. If the author is also the editor, use part of the name as the editor, for example, The Association as the editor if the author is the Canadian Medical Association. Enter the year of publication followed by a period. If the publication date is not found, but the publication contains a copyright date, use the copyright date preceded by the letter “c”, for example, c2015.


Enter the short title of the journal, place a period and a space, the year, (and the abbreviated month and day, if applicable), semicolon, volume, number number in parentheses, colon, page range, and a period. For example, Brain Res. 2002;935(1-2):40-6. (The issue number can be omitted if the journal is paged continuously through the volume.)

To find the abbreviation for the journal title, go to the Medline journal database and search by journal title. If the title is not found, abbreviate according to the style used for similar titles in Medline.


In the case of journals, the entire range of pages of an article is indicated, not the specific page on which the information was found; it uses 124-7 (pages 124-127) or 215-22 (pages 215-222). For books, page numbers are not indicated, with two exceptions: the page number of a dictionary entry is included, as well as the page range of a chapter with its own author.

Information specific to online sources

In general, include the same information you would give for the printed material, and then add retrieval information so that others can locate the sources.

Place the word Internet in square brackets after the title of the book or the abbreviated title of the journal (see examples 2, 8, 9).

Indicate the date of recovery, preceded by the word “cited”, in square brackets after the date of publication.

Add the retrieval information to the end of the appointment using the full URL. There is no punctuation at the end of the URL, unless you end with a slash, in which case a period is added.

If a DOI exists, it is optional to add it after the recovery information.

Include a short note after the URL if special access information is required.

The references are listed in numerical order and in the same order in which they are cited in the text. This list appears at the end of the job.

The list of references should include all and only the references that you have cited in the text. (However, do not include unpublished items, such as correspondence.)

Use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

Abbreviate the titles of the journals in the style used in the NLM Catalog.

Check the reference details with the actual source: you are indicating that you have read a source when you quote it.

Be consistent with your reference style throughout the document.

Example of reference list

  1. O’Campo P, Dunn JR, editors. Rethinking social epidemiology: towards a science of change. Dordrecht: Springer; 2012. 348 p.
  2. Schiraldi GR. Post-traumatic stress disorder sourcebook: a guide to healing, recovery, and growth [Internet] . New York: McGraw-Hill; 2000 [cited 2019 Nov 6] . 446 p. Available from: DOI: 10.1036/0737302658
  3. Halpen-Felsher BL, Morrell HE. Preventing and reducing tobacco use. In: Berlan ED, Bravender T, editors. Adolescent medicine today: a guide to caring for the adolescent patient [Internet] . Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co.; 2012 [cited 2019 Nov 3] . Chapter 18. Available from:
  4. Stockhausen L, Turale S. An exploratortive study of Australian nursing scholars and contemporary scholarship. J Nurs Scholarsh [Internet] . 2011 Mar [cited 2019 Feb 19] ;43(1):89-96. Available from:
  5. Kanneganti P, Harris JD, Brophy RH, Carey JL, Lattermann C, Flanigan DC. The effect of smoking on ligament and cartilage surgery in the knee: a systematic review. Am J Sports Med [Internet] . 2012 Dec [cited 2019 Feb 19] ;40(12):2872-8. Available from: DOI: 10.1177/0363546512458223
  6. Subbarao M. Tough cases in carotid stenting [DVD] . Woodbury (CT): Cine-Med, Inc.; 2003. 1 DVD: sound, colour, 4 3/4 in.
  7. Stem cells in the brain [television broadcast] . Catalyst. Sydney: ABC; 2009 Jun 25.

References to appendices

Reference your own appendices in your own text

There is no need to reference its appendix. It is enough to point it out in the body of the work, for example: (See Appendix A).

If you have created your own appendix and cited the references, number the references within the appendix consecutively with your written text and include them in your reference list.

Reference appendices not written by you:

If the appendix was not written by you, place the numbered citation, in sequence with the rest of the text, at the end of the appendix and include the full reference in your reference list.

Missing information in Vancouver references

Some sources lack some of the information needed for a complete reference. See below how to handle missing items.

No author

As shown in the example on the website above, when you don’t name an individual author, you can usually name the organization that produced the font as the author.

If there is no clear corporate author – for example, a wiki that is created and updated in collaboration with users – you can start your reference with the title:

    1. Breast cancer [Internet] . 2020 [cited 2020 Feb 14] . Available from:

Sources such as websites may lack a clear publication date. In these cases you can omit the year in your reference and simply include the date of your appointment:

    1. How to structure a dissertation [Internet] . [cited 2020 Feb 14] . Available from:
No page numbers

You might want to display the location of a direct citation from a source without page numbers, such as a website. When the font is short, it can often be omitted, but if you deem it necessary you can use an alternative locator such as a title or a paragraph number:

    1. NASA calls the telescope ‘the most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope’ (5, para. 5).

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Also you might be interested in: ICONTEC Standards


Vancouver Standards

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