Vancouver Style of Citation

Otherwise known as the ICMJE Recommendations, the Vancouver style of citation is concerned with Recommendations related to Academic Work in Medical Journal publications, most specifically in the areas of Conduct, Editing, Reporting, and Publication It was a group of editors of medical journals who developed this style in Vancouver in the year 1978.

Citations within Text

How citations should be placed in texts: Numbers should be given to in-text citations, in the place where the citation occurs in a sentence. Original documentation does not describe where citations should appear in relation to a sentence’s punctuation. Hence, it is acceptable to include citations prior to or after a full stop (or period), but consistency is important.

All reference numbers are added sequentially according to the order the reference first appears. Furthermore, reference numbers are enclosed in parenthesis and applied to tables and legends as well as standard text. Where a reference is used more than once, it should be given its original number.

Tables should be given consecutive numbers. Give every table a reasonably short title and every column a similarly-brief heading. Check that tables are referenced in your body text. If you take data from various sources, list the source in your end-of-paper reference list. Explanations should be provided in notes and not in headings.

Try and avoid using personally-received communications as references, unless these contain important information that cannot be obtained from a publicly-accessible source. Such communications may include private interviews, emails, phone calls, course notes, course handouts, or any similar information the public does not have access to. Because other people (your readers) cannot access these communications, they should be omitted from your list of references. However, you may mention the name of the person the communication came from, in parentheses and along with the date of the correspondence.

With the passage of time, Internet-based sources may well alter, move, or get deleted. Therefore, it is wise to keep a printed form of these for your records. You should additionally analyze the reliability of these sources in a critical manner.

What to Include in a References List

  • Citations or references. The very last page of a paper generally bears the title “References.” Entries are usually typed in single-spacing with double spacing between reference entries.
  • Reference numbers: All references should be compiled in numerical order rather than alphabetically. List each reference only once since each instance will be given that same number for the duration of a paper.
  • Referencing the names of authors: Every author should be listed by their surname and initial with a space between these but no period. Where different authors are being listed, place a space and a comma between them with a period after the name of the last-mentioned author. In cases where the number of authors exceeds six, your list should include the first six names and then “et al” to represent the remaining authors. Where books have been edited, replace the name of the author or authors with the name of the editor or editors, with a comma after the last name and the title “editor” in single or plural form as applicable. Where books have been edited but chapters have been written by known authors, the names of these authors should be listed first, then the name of the chapter(s), and lastly the expression “In” editor(s) name and title of book.
  • Publication titles: Give the initial letter of the first title word a capital letter, with lower-case letters for the remainder of the title. Proper names are the exception to this rule. You should not underline titles or put them in italics. Where book editions apply, these should be displayed in abbreviated form after the title (1st ed.).

Information on Different Types of Publications 

  • Published books: Add a period (full stop) and space after the title of the book and edition (where applicable). This should be followed by the city where the book was published. If a city’s name is not commonly-known, or is likely to be confusing, use the state’s abbreviated form (for the United States), or the province for books published in Canada.  For other countries, add the country name. A colon should follow the city, state, province or country’s name. Include the name of the book’s publisher as displayed in the publication with a colon following it. Where an author is the same as the publisher simply include part of the name of the applicable publisher. Then include the year the book was published with a period following it. If the date of publication is not available but a copyright date exists, use the latter with a “c” before it to denote its type e.g. c2000.
  • Published journals: List journals by their abbreviated titles and follow this information with a period, then a space. Next you should list the year the journal was published (including, where applicable, the abbreviated version of the day and the month of publication). This is followed by a semicolon, volume (vol.), issue number (parenthesized), colon, page number or page range, and lastly a period (full stop). The following example is fictional and shows a citation entry for a journal: Brain Diag. 2002;750(1-5):20-2. NB: You may omit issue numbers where there is continuous pagination given in a journal.

Look in the Medline Journals Database to find abbreviated journal titles. Where a title cannot be found, abbreviate your journal title in the manner other titles are abbreviated in the database.

Page numbers/ranges. When quoting from journals, use the full page range for an article and not just the page where specific information is located e.g. 125-9 or 217-22 for pages 125 to 129 and page 217 to page 222 respectively. Page numbers need not be provided for books except where dictionary entries or chapters with separate authors are used. 

  • Information published online: Generally speaking you should use the same pieces of information you would use for print-version sources with a link at the end to allow readers to retrieve the information.

When referring to online books or journal articles, place the word ‘Internet’ in square brackets after the journal’s abbreviated title.

Included the date of publication followed by the term ‘cited’ (in square brackets), and then the retrieval date.

To allow information to be retrieved, provide the complete URL at the end of your citation. URLs do not usually end with a punctuation mark, but if there is a slash, you can add a full stop (period).

Optionally add any DOI that exists at the end of other retrieval information.

If a URL requires special access, you may add a short explanatory note to this effect.

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