Vancouver Citation Style: Everything You Need to Know

Vancouver Style Citation Ultimate Handbook
Table of Contents

In the Vancouver referencing, the citation-sequence system is employed. This means that the references at the conclusion of your paper are numbered according to the order in which the corresponding citations appear in your text rather than being arranged alphabetically by author.

In this article, you will discover all the basics of the Vancouver citation style and find helpful how-to tips, together with quality reference examples. 

What is Citation Style: General Description

There are nine different citation styles used in academic and professional writing, each with its own rules and conventions. Here are some common citation styles:

Style Description
APA (American Psychological Association) Widely used in the social sciences, APA style emphasizes author-date citations and a clear structure for citing various sources, including books, articles, and websites.
MLA (Modern Language Association) Every essay writer in the humanities, especially in literature and language studies, knows this style. MLA employs parenthetical citations in the text and a Works Cited page for the full reference list.
Chicago/Turabian Style The Chicago style is used in a variety of disciplines, while Turabian is a simplified version often used in academic writing. Chicago style allows for two citation systems: notes and bibliography or author-date.
Harvard Referencing Style Widely used in the UK and Australia, Harvard citation style includes the author's name and the publication year in the in-text citation, with a corresponding bibliography at the end of the document.
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Commonly used in technical fields, the IEEE style utilizes numerical citations within square brackets and a numbered reference list.
AMA (American Medical Association) Common in medical and scientific writing, the AMA style uses numerical citations and a corresponding reference list, with specific formatting for different types of sources.
CSE (Council of Science Editors) Often used in the natural sciences, CSE offers three systems for citation: citation-sequence, name-year, and citation-name.
Turabian Style Similar to the Chicago style, Turabian is a more simplified version commonly used by college students for research papers.
Vancouver Style Primarily used in biomedical and scientific fields, the Vancouver style employs a numbered citation-sequence system in the order of appearance in the text, listed at the end of the document.

Remember to use the citation style specified by your instructor, publisher, or the guidelines of the publication you are submitting your work to. Each style has its own rules for formatting in-text citations, reference lists, and bibliographies.

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What Is Vancouver Style Citation

Vancouver reference style is a numeric or citation-sequence system commonly used in biomedical and scientific writing. It is named after the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) meeting held in Vancouver in 1978, where the guidelines for this citation style were established. It is used by Medline and PubMed. 

What Is Vancouver Style Citation

Key features of this style citation include:

Numeric System In Vancouver style, sources are cited numerically in the order they appear in the text. Each reference is assigned a unique number, which is placed in square brackets [].
In-Text Citations Numerical citations are inserted in the text, typically as superscript numbers or in square brackets. These correspond to the numbered entries in the reference list.
Reference List At the end of the document, a numbered reference list is provided. The entries are ordered based on the order of appearance in the text, not alphabetically by author.
Formatting Specific formats are used for different types of sources, such as books, journal articles, websites, etc. The general format includes the author(s), title, source, and publication information.

Here's a simple example of a Vancouver-style citation for a journal article:

  • In-text citation: "This phenomenon has been widely studied^[1^]."
  • Reference list entry: "1. Author(s). Title of the Article. Abbrev. Title of the Journal. Year; Volume(Issue): Page numbers."

Vancouver style is commonly used in medical and scientific research papers and is known for its straightforward numeric referencing system, providing a clear and concise way to cite sources.

How to Cite in Vancouver Style

Remember that in Vancouver style, you insert a reference number in the text whenever you cite a source:

According to Davies et al., the data is deemed ‘unreliable’ (1, p. 15).

This numerical reference corresponds to an entry in your reference list - a sequentially numbered compilation of all sources cited in your text, each providing comprehensive information:

  • Davies B, Jameson P. Advanced economics. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2013.

This brief guide outlines the prevalent rules for referencing in Vancouver style. Please note that specific universities and journals may have unique guidelines for the Vancouver referencing format.

when use vancouver

Vancouver Style In-Text Citation How-To

In Vancouver style, in-text citations are numeric and are placed within the text at the point where a source is cited. Here are some general guidelines for writing in-text citations:

vancouver format
  • Numerical Placement: Insert a numerical superscript or a numerical expression in square brackets ([ ]) at the relevant point in the text where you are citing a source. Example: "The study results were inconclusive^[1^]."
  • Multiple Authors: For sources with multiple authors, use et al. (short for "et alia") after the first author's name when citing in-text. Example: "Smith et al. suggest that the theory is applicable^[2^]."
  • Page Numbers: Include the page number when quoting directly from a source. Example: "As noted by Johnson, 'the phenomenon is complex'^[3^, p. 25]."
  • Multiple Citations: If you are citing multiple sources, separate the numbers with commas. Example: "Several studies have explored this issue^[4^,5^,6^]."

Remember, the in-text citation numbers correspond to the numbered entries in the reference list at the end of your document. The reference list provides full details of each source cited in the text. It's important to follow the specific guidelines of the Vancouver style, as variations may exist depending on the source type and the publication requirements.

How to Name Authors

When naming authors in Vancouver citations, you generally include the author's last name followed by the initials of their first and middle names (if available). Here are some guidelines:

1. One Author:

  • Format: Last name, Initial(s).
  • Example: "Smith J^[1^] found that..."

2. Two Authors:

  • Format: Last name, Initial(s), Last name, Initial(s).
  • Example: "Jones M, Brown R^[2^] state that..."

3. Three to Six Authors:

  • List all authors in the order they appear on the source.
  • Format: Last name, Initial(s), Last name, Initial(s), Last name, Initial(s), etc.
  • Example: "Miller A, Davis B, Johnson C^[3^] conducted a study..."

4. Seven or More Authors:

  • List the first six authors, then use "et al." (short for "et alia") for the remaining authors.
  • Example: "Lee X, et al.^[4^] reported..."

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How to Number References 

In Vancouver style, references are numbered in the order in which they are cited in the text. Here's how to number references in Vancouver style:

In-Text Numerical Citation Each time you cite a source in the text, insert a numerical superscript or numerical expression in square brackets ([]) at the relevant point.
Example: "Previous studies have shown conflicting results^[1,2,3]."
Sequential Order The numbers should be assigned in the order that the references first appear in the text.
If you cite the same source multiple times, use the same number assigned to that source for consistency.
Example: "The research findings were consistent^[1]. Further analysis supported this conclusion^[1,4]."
Page Numbers Include page numbers when quoting directly from a source.
Example: "As highlighted by Johnson, 'the phenomenon is complex^[3, p. 25]'."
Multiple Sources If you are citing multiple sources at the same point in the text, separate the numbers with commas.
Example: "Several studies have explored this issue^[4,5,6]."
Reference List At the end of your document, compile a reference list in numerical order based on the order of appearance in the text.
Example: Reference list entry formatting.

By the way, many students want to learn about the Chicago style format, so be sure to check out this guide, too!

How to Cite Multiple Sources

Citing multiple sources involves listing the reference numbers in numerical order and separating them with commas. Here's how to cite multiple sources in the Vancouver citation style:

1. Sequential Numerical Order:

  • Cite the sources in the order in which they appear in your text.
  • Example: "Several studies have explored this topic^[2^,5^,7^], revealing varied perspectives."

2. Consecutive Sources:

  • If you are citing sources that are consecutively numbered, you can use a dash to indicate a range.
  • Example: "Recent research has shown conflicting results^[3^–6^], emphasizing the complexity of the issue."

3. Non-Consecutive Sources:

  • If you are citing non-consecutive sources, separate the numbers with commas.
  • Example: "The literature suggests diverse viewpoints^[1^,4^,8^], challenging traditional assumptions."

4. Combining Consecutive and Non-Consecutive Sources:

  • If your citations include a combination of consecutive and non-consecutive sources, use commas and dashes as needed.
  • Example: "Studies on this subject span a broad spectrum^[2^,5^–7^,10^], requiring a nuanced approach."

5. Page Numbers:

  • If quoting directly or referring to specific pages, include page numbers for each source.
  • Example: "The data presented in these studies is consistent^[3^, p. 25; 6^, pp. 50-55], supporting our hypothesis."

How to Cite Page Numbers

When citing page numbers, you include them directly in the in-text citation. Here's how to cite page numbers in Vancouver style:

1. Direct Quotation:

  • When directly quoting from a source, include the page number in the in-text citation.
  • Example: "According to Smith, 'the phenomenon is complex'^[1^, p. 25]."

2. Reference to a Specific Page:

  • If you are referring to a specific page or range of pages without a direct quote, include the page number in the citation.
  • Example: "The study highlighted the significance of this issue^[2^, p. 48]."

3. Multiple Page Numbers:

  • If you are referencing multiple pages, use a hyphen to indicate a range of pages.
  • Example: "The findings were consistent across different regions^[3^, pp. 10-15]."

4. Combining Multiple Citations and Page Numbers:

  • When citing multiple sources with different page numbers, separate the citation numbers with commas and include the page numbers as needed.
  • Example: "Various studies have investigated this trend^[4^,6^,8^,10^, p. 30]."

5. No Page Numbers:

  • If a source does not have page numbers, it's acceptable to exclude them from the citation.
  • Example: "Johnson argues for a holistic approach to the problem^[5^]."

Creating a Vancouver Reference List

In Vancouver style citation, the reference list is a compilation of all the sources cited within a document, arranged numerically based on their order of appearance in the text. Each source is assigned a unique number, and the reference list provides detailed bibliographic information for each numbered citation. 

The entries in the reference list include the authors' names, titles of books or articles, publication details, and other relevant information. Vancouver style emphasizes a numeric and systematic approach, allowing readers to locate easily and cross-reference cited sources in a clear and organized manner.

Vancouver Reference List Example

This is an example of a Vancouver citation format reference list. Include all the details required for each specific type of source (book, journal article, website, etc.). Remember that in Vancouver style, the references are listed in the order they are cited in the text, and each source is assigned a unique number for easy cross-referencing.

Reference list

  1. Smith J, Brown R. Introduction to Biomedical Research. New York: Academic Press; 2019.
  2. Johnson A, Davis M. "Exploring the Genetics of Rare Diseases." Journal of Genetic Research. 2020; 15(2):45-58.
  3. Miller K. Understanding Immunology. London: Wiley; 2018.
  4. Lee X, et al. "Recent Advances in Cancer Therapeutics." International Journal of Oncology. 2017; 25(4):112-125.
  5. Anderson P, Lewis H. Advancements in Neuroscience Research. San Francisco: Springer; 2021.
  6. Martinez G, et al. "Climate Change Impact on Biodiversity." Environmental Studies. 2019; 40(3):220-235.
  7. Taylor L, et al. "Robotics in Medicine: A Comprehensive Review." Journal of Medical Technology. 2022; 18(1):87-102.
  8. White E, Robinson S. The Art of Data Analysis. Boston: DataPress; 2017.
  9. Website Name. URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]
  10.  Website Title. URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]

How to Write Author Names

In the Vancouver style reference list, you should write author names using the following general format:

Format for Author Names:

  • List the last name of the author(s) first, followed by their initials without spaces or periods.
  • Separate multiple authors with a comma and use an ampersand (&) before the last author's name when there are more than two authors.

For a single author:

  • Smith J.

For two authors:

  • Johnson A, Brown R.

For three or more authors:

  • Lee X, Martinez G, et al.

Note:

  1. If the author's name includes a suffix (e.g., Jr., Sr.), place the suffix after the initials.
  2. If the publication has a corporate authorship (e.g., World Health Organization), list it as the author.

Example with Suffix and Corporate Author:

  • Smith JR, White E. *Title of the Book.* New York: Publisher; Year.
  • World Health Organization. *Report on Health Trends.* Geneva: WHO; 2021.

Keep in mind that the goal is to present the author names in a clear and consistent manner, making it easy for readers to identify and reference the sources. If you don’t get the material, simply type, ‘Write essay for me,’ and the citation trouble will be solved for good.

How to Source Titles

In a Vancouver-style reference list, the formatting of source titles depends on the type of source. Here's a general guide for formatting source titles:

1. Book Titles:

  • Italicize the title of the book.
  • Example: Smith J, Brown R. *Introduction to Biomedical Research.* New York: Academic Press; 2019.

2. Journal Article Titles:

  • Italicize the title of the journal article.
  • Use sentence case, where only the first word of the title and any proper nouns are capitalized.
  • Example: Johnson A, Davis M. "Exploring the Genetics of Rare Diseases." *Journal of Genetic Research.* 2020; 15(2):45-58.

3. Website or Webpage Titles:

  • Italicize the title of the website or webpage.
  • Example: Website Title. URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]

4. Chapter or Article Titles Within a Book:

  • Italicize the title of the chapter or article.
  • Example: White E, Robinson S. "Data Visualization Techniques." In: Taylor L, et al., editors. *The Art of Data Analysis.* Boston: DataPress; 2017. p. 87-102.

5. Newspaper or Magazine Article Titles:

  • Italicize the title of the article.
  • Example: Martinez G, et al. "Climate Change Impact on Biodiversity." *Environmental Studies.* 2019; 40(3):220-235.

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Vancouver Style Citation Examples

 Reference list example 1

  1. Smith J, Brown R. Introduction to Biomedical Research. New York: Academic Press; 2019.
  2. Johnson A, Davis M, White E. "Advancements in Genetic Research." Journal of Medical Genetics. 2021; 28(4):123-136.
  3. Website Title. URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]
  4. White E, Robinson S. "Data Visualization Techniques." In: Taylor L, et al., editors. The Art of Data Analysis. Boston: DataPress; 2017. p. 87-102.
  5. Martinez G, et al. "Climate Change Impact on Biodiversity." Environmental Studies. 2019; 40(3):220-235.
  6. Anderson P, Lewis H. Advancements in Neuroscience Research. San Francisco: Springer; 2021.
  7. Taylor L, et al. "Robotics in Medicine: A Comprehensive Review." Journal of Medical Technology. 2022; 18(1):87-102.
  8. Miller K. Understanding Immunology. London: Wiley; 2018.
  9. Website Title 2. URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]
  10.  Johnson S, et al. "Exploring Quantum Computing Technologies." Journal of Computing Advances. 2020; 15(2):78-92.

Reference list example 2

  1. Adams R, Baker M. Chemistry: Principles and Applications. Boston: Pearson; 2020.
  2. Carter T, Johnson A, White E. "The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Business Strategies." Journal of Business and Technology. 2019; 15(3):189-205.
  3. Website Title 3. URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]
  4. Brown S, Robinson P. "Advancements in Renewable Energy Technologies." Energy Research Reviews. 2018; 25:45-60.
  5. Thompson G, et al. Data Science Handbook. New York: O'Reilly Media; 2016.
  6. Hall M, et al. "The Role of Microorganisms in Soil Fertility." Soil Science. 2021; 42(2):110-125.
  7. Website Title 4. URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]
  8. Lewis E, et al. "Artificial Neural Networks in Financial Forecasting." Journal of Financial Technology. 2022; 10(1):35-50.
  9. Robinson S. The Art of Creative Writing. London: Writer's Press; 2017.
  10.  Website Title 5. URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]

What if There's Missing Information in Vancouver References

In the Vancouver referencing style, it's essential to provide as much information as possible for each source type. However, if there is missing information, you can adapt your reference list accordingly. Here are some general guidelines:

1. Missing Author Information:

  • If the author's name is unavailable, start the reference with the title of the source.
  • Example: *Title of the Book.* Place of Publication: Publisher; Year.

2. Missing Publication Year:

  • If the publication year is not provided, use "n.d." (no date).
  • Example: Author A, Author B. *Title of the Article.* *Title of the Journal.* [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]

3. Missing Page Numbers:

  • If page numbers are not available, it's generally acceptable to omit them.
  • Example: Author C. *Title of the Website.* URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]

4. Missing URL:

  • If the URL for an online source is unavailable, indicate that the source is from the internet and provide the publication date if available.
  • Example: Author D. *Title of the Webpage.* Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]

How to Reference a Journal Article in the Vancouver Citation Style

According to the Vancouver citation format, referencing a journal article involves providing specific details about the article in numerical order. Here's a general guide on referencing a journal article in Vancouver citation style:

Format:

1. Author(s) Last name Initials. Title of the article. Title of the Journal. Year; Volume(Issue): Page numbers.

Example: 

1. Smith J, Brown R. Advancements in genetic research. *Journal of Medical Genetics.* 2021; 28(4):123-136.

Key Elements:

1. Author(s): List the last name followed by the initials of all authors. For multiple authors, use commas to separate and an ampersand (&) before the last author's name.

  • Example: Smith J, Brown R.

2. Title of the Article: Use sentence case, where only the first word of the title and any proper nouns are capitalized. Italicize the title of the article.

  • Example: Advancements in genetic research.

3. Title of the Journal: Italicize the title of the journal and abbreviate it according to the journal's standard abbreviation. If the journal has no abbreviation, write out the full title.

  • Example: Journal of Medical Genetics.

4. Year of Publication: Provide the publication year in parentheses, followed by a semicolon.

  • Example: 2021;

5. Volume and Issue Numbers: Italicize the volume number, followed by the issue number in parentheses (if applicable).

  • Example: 28(4):

6. Page Numbers: Provide the inclusive page numbers of the article, followed by a period.

  • Example: 123-136.

How Do You Cite a Book in the Vancouver Referencing Style

In Vancouver style, citing a book involves providing specific details about the book in a numerical order. Here's a general guide on how to reference a book in Vancouver citation style:

Format:

1. Author(s) Last name Initials. Title of the book. Place of Publication: Publisher; Year.

Example:

1. Smith J, Brown R. *Introduction to Biomedical Research.* New York: Academic Press; 2019.

Key Elements:

1. Author(s): List the last name followed by initials of all authors. For multiple authors, use commas to separate and an ampersand (&) before the last author's name.

  • Example: Smith J, Brown R.

2. Title of the Book: Italicize the title of the book. Use sentence case, where only the first word of the title and any proper nouns are capitalized.

  • Example: Introduction to Biomedical Research.

3. Place of Publication: Include the city or location where the book was published, followed by a colon.

  • Example: New York:

4. Publisher: Specify the name of the publisher.

  • Example: Academic Press;

5. Year of Publication: Provide the publication year, followed by a period.

  • Example: 2019.

We know that this information is not easy. But the faster you could learn how to cite a research paper, the better you could turn in A-grade compositions.

How to Cite a Website in a Paper in Vancouver Style

In Vancouver style, citing a website in a paper involves providing specific details about the webpage in numerical order. Here's a general guide on how to reference a website in Vancouver citation style:

Format:

1. Author(s) Last name Initials. Title of the webpage. Website Title. URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]

Example:

1. Author A. Title of the Webpage. Website Title. URL. Published Year. [Internet]. [Cited Year Month Day]. Available from: [URL]

Key Elements:

1. Author(s): If an individual author is available, list the last name followed by initials. For corporate authors or organizations, use the full name.

  • Example: Author A.

2. Title of the Webpage: Use sentence case, where only the first word of the title and any proper nouns are capitalized.

  • Example: Title of the Webpage.

3. Website Title: Italicize the title of the website. If the website has no formal title, describe it.

  • Example: Website Title.

4. URL: Provide the full URL of the webpage.

  • Example: https://www.example.com.

5. Published Year: If available, provide the publication year.

  • Example: Published Year.

6. Internet: Include [Internet] in square brackets to specify the medium.

  • Example: [Internet].

7. Cited Year Month Day: Include the date when you accessed the webpage, in the format Year Month Day.

  • Example: [Cited 2023 November 14].

8. Available from: Indicate that the source is available online, followed by the URL.

Summing Up

In conclusion, mastering Vancouver-style citations is a valuable skill for students navigating academic writing. Understanding the fundamentals outlined in this article, from proper author formatting to the meticulous arrangement of references, will undoubtedly enhance the clarity and credibility of your scholarly work.

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Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

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