A large number of journals within the field of Medicine adhere to the Vancouver style, specified in the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals.
The Vancouver style is named after a meeting in 1978, when a group of editors of journals within the field of Medicine met in Vancouver, Canada, to agree on guidelines for authors wishing to submit articles to their journals. This collaboration later developed into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).
Vancouver is a numbered style. In the running text, sources are indicated by Arabic numbers within square brackets, and the reference list consists of full biographical references to the sources in numbered order (and thus in the order in which they appear in the text).
The Uniform Requirements is based on Citing Medicine, The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (2007) by Patrias & Wendling, which is the style used by the United States National Library of Medicine.
The guidelines and examples provided below cover only basic text types; for other kinds of sources and for more detailed information, we provide links to the Uniform Requirements and to Citing Medicine at the bottom of this page:
In-text references supply information of the source within the text. Full information about the source is then provided in the reference list.
In-text references are provided with Arabic numerals within square brackets or in superscript that refer to the list of references at the end of the text.
Where to place the numbered reference
Note the position of the numbered references. If referring to the whole sentence, they are placed after the full stop ending the sentence; if referring to a part of the sentence only, they are placed within the sentence, after the comma.
In Vancouver style, the reference list is called References. In this list, the sources are listed in the order in which they appear in the text. Preceding the reference is the numeral identifying the reference.
Note that for Vancouver reference lists, there is some variation in the way in which entries are written. A basic pattern is provided below. Some publishers suggest slightly different formats - for instance, that full first names are provided, or that a comma is inserted in between the author's last name and first name.
Writers have to make sure they follow the format required by supervisors or publishers, paying close attention to details such as punctuation in the reference list.
Book entries in the Reference list look like this in Vancouver style:
Author's last name Initial(s). Title of book. Place of publication: Publisher; Year of publication.
Two or more authors:
First author's last name Initial(s), Second author's last name Initial(s). Title of book. Place of publication: Publisher; Year of publication.
In an edited book, "editor" or "editors" is inserted after the name(s) of the editor(s):
Author's last name Initial(s), editor. Title of book. Place of publication: Publisher; Year of publication.
Chapter in edited book
The Vancouver style format for reference list entries of chapters from edited books looks like this:
Last name Initial of first name(s). Title of chapter. In: Name of editor(s), editor/s, Title of book. Place of publication: Publisher; Year of publication. p. Inclusive page numbers of chapter.
For book entries, Vancouver style, note that
- Only initials of author's first name(s) are provided
- Initials are written with no punctuation (for instance, LA for Louisa Anne)
- For books by more than one author, authors' names should be given in the order in which they appear on the book's title page.
- Only the first letter of the title of a book is capitalised.
- "Year of publication" refers to the edition that has been used
- "Place of publication" means city + abbreviated name of state for US publications and city + country for non-US publications.
- "Publisher" is the name of the publishing company
- Some publishers require that the book's number of pages is stated. If included, the total number of pages (followed by 'p.') is placed after the publication year.
The Vancouver format for journal articles entries in the list of References looks like this:
Last name Initial of first name(s). Title of article. Abbreviated title of journal. Year Month;Volume(Issue):Inclusive page numbers.
If no month is stated, the format looks like this:
......Year;Volume(Issue):Inclusive page numbers.
If there are several authors, they should be listed in the same order as in the article and a comma is inserted between their names:
Last name Initial of first name(s), Last name Initial of first name(s), ...
How many authors should be listed?
Publication guidelines differ regarding the number of authors that should be listed; some journals state that if the number of authors exceed a certain limit, the phrase "et al." or "and others" should be used. Unless such guidance is given, all authors should be listed.
Journals accessed through the Internet
Entries for journal articles accessed through the Internet look slightly different:
Last name Initial of first name(s). Title of article. Abbreviated title of journal [Internet]. Year Month [cited Year Month Day];Volume(Issue):
Inclusive page numbers. Available from: ... DOI:...
For journal article entries, Vancouver style, note the following:
- With the exception of proper nouns (like names), only the first word of the article title is capitalised.
- The titles of journals are capitalised, however, and abbreviated according to the journal's practice.
- Inclusive page numbers cover the whole article, not only the part of the article to which you refer. Note that in Vancouver, page numbers are written in a brief style, for instance, "20-7" (not "20-27") and "312-8" (not "312-318").
For articles retrieved from the Internet, also note that
- "[Internet]" is added after the journal title.
- After the date of publication, the date of any update and when the citation was made, is added.
- The URL has to be provided and if there is a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) code, it should be given as well.
Webpage and other online sources
The basic format for references to webpages looks like this:
Last name Initial of first name(s). Title [Internet]. Place of publication: Publisher; Year of publication or copyright [updated Year Month Day; cited Year Month Day]. Available from: http:// ...
Note that it is not always possible to provide all this information; there may be no author, nor information of date of publication or updates that may have been done.
Other online sources
For references to other online sources, such as e-mail, listservs, blogs, and wikis, see Patrias & Wendling (2007) (link below).
Vancouver style online resources
Both The Uniform Requirements and Citing Medicine are available online.
The Uniform Requirements give information not only on referencing, but also on issues connected with the research process and publication within the field of Medicine:
- The Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication (PDF)
The reference section of the Uniform Requirements is based on the style adapted by the United States National Library of Medicine. The NLM style guide is available online: