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Vancouver Style Guide: Home

Introduction to Vancouver

The Vancouver Style is formally known as Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (ICMJE Recommendations). It was developed in Vancouver in 1978 by editors of medical journals and well over 1,000 medical journals (including ICMJE members BMJ, CMAJ, JAMA & NEJM) use this style. This user guide explains how to cite references in Vancouver Style, both within the text of a paper and in a reference list, and gives examples of commonly used types of references.

Refer to the left hand column for written directions about how to cite Vancouver and refer to the right hand column for examples and formatting.

ICMJE Recommendations has many optional areas. This guide has been created for The Michener Institute and may differ from styles at other educational institutes and those required by individual journals.

In-Text Citations

  • Placement of citations: In-text citation numbers should be placed after the relevant part of a sentence. The original Vancouver Style documents do not discuss placement of the in-text citation in regards to punctuation, so it is acceptable to place it before or after the period. Be consistent.
  • References are numbered consecutively in the order they are first mentioned. Place each reference number in parentheses or square brackets throughout the text, tables, and legends. Superscripts may also be used instead of square brackets or parentheses. Be consistent. If the same reference is used again, re-use the original number. To cite multiple references in one sentence, separate the numbers using a comma, eg. (2, 7), for non-consecutive reference numbers, and a hyphen, eg. (3-5), for consecutive reference numbers.
  • Tables are numbered consecutively. Supply a brief title for each table and give each column a short heading. Be sure that the table is mentioned in the text. If the data is taken from another source, include the source in the list of references at the end of the paper. Place explanatory matter in a note, not in the heading.
  • Personal communication used as a reference should be avoided, unless it provides essential information not available from a public source. These can be emails, personal interviews, telephone conversations, class notes, class handouts that are not posted, etc. Do not include them in the reference list as they are not recoverable by others; instead cite the name of the person, the type of communication, and the date of communication in parentheses in the text, eg. "In a conversation with A. Jones (January 2020)..."
  • Internet sources may, in time, be deleted, changed, or moved, so it is a good idea to keep a hard copy for your records. Also, take care to critically evaluate the reliability of the information.

Reference Page

  • The last page of your paper is entitled References. References are single spaced, with double-spacing between references.
  • Numbering: List all references in order by number, not alphabetically. Each reference is listed once only, since the same number is used throughout the paper.
  • Authors: In the order they appear on the resource, list each author’s last name followed by a space and then initials without any periods; there is a comma and space between authors and a period at the end of the last author. If the number of authors exceeds six, give the first six followed by “et al.” For edited books, place the editors’ names in the author position and follow the last editor with a comma and the word editor (or editors). For edited books with chapters written by individual authors, list the authors of the chapter first, then the chapter title, followed by “In:”, the editors’ names, and the book title.
  • Title: Capitalize the first letter of the first word in the title. The rest of the title is in lower-case, with the exception of proper names. Do not underline 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: Books: After the title (and edition if applicable), place a period and space, then enter the city. If the city is not well known or there could be confusion, enter the postal abbreviation for the state (U.S.) or province (Canada), or enter the country (elsewhere) of publication, followed by a colon. Give the name of the publisher as it appears in the publication followed by a semicolon. If the author is also the publisher, it is acceptable to use part of the name as the publisher, e.g., The Association for publisher if the author is Canadian Medical Association. Give the year of publication followed by a period. If no date of publication can be found, but the publication contains a date of copyright, use the date of copyright preceded by the letter “c”, e.g. c2015.
  • Publication information: Journals: List the abbreviated journal title, place a period and a space, year, (and abbreviated month and day if applicable), semi-colon, volume, issue number in parentheses, colon, page range, and a period. For example, Brain Res. 2002;935(1-2):40-6. (The issue number may be omitted if the journal is paginated continuously through the volume.)
    To find the journal title abbreviation, go to Medline’s Journals Database and search by journal title. If the title is not found, abbreviate according to the style used for similar titles in Medline.
  • Pages: For journals, the entire page range of an article is given, not the specific page on which the information was found; usage is 124-7 (pages 124 to 127) or 215-22 (pages 215 to 222). For books, no page numbers are given, 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 as you would for print material and then add retrieval information so others can locate the sources.
    • Place the word Internet in square brackets after the book title or abbreviated journal title.
    • Indicate date of retrieval, preceded by the word “cited”, in square brackets after the date of publication. When possible, include the most recent update date before the date of retrieval within the square brackets, followed by a semicolon and a space.
    • Add retrieval information at the end of the citation using the full URL. There is no punctuation at the end of the URL unless it ends with a slash or if additional information such as a DOI follows it in the entry, in which case a period is added.
    • If a DOI exists, it is optional to add it after the retrieval information.
    • Include a short note after the URL if special access information is required.

Citation Examples

Journal article, up to 6 personal author(s):

1. Al-Habian A, Harikumar PE, Stocker CJ, Langlands K, Selway JL. Histochemical and immunohistochemical evaluation of mouse skin histology: comparison of fixation with neutral buffered formalin and alcoholic formalin. J Histotechnol. 2014 Dec;37(4):115-24.

Electronic journal article:

2. Poling J, Kelly L, Chan C, Fisman D, Ulanova M. Hospital admission for community-acquired pneumonia in a First Nations population. Can J Rural Med [Internet]. 2014 Fall [cited 2015 Apr 27];19(4):135-41. Available from: by selecting PDF link in table of contents.

Electronic journal article, 7 or more personal authors, optional DOI information:

3. Aho M, Irshad B, Ackerman SJ, Lewis M, Leddy R, Pope T, et al. Correlation of sonographic features of invasive ductal mammary carcinoma with age, tumor grade, and hormone-receptor status. J Clin Ultrasound [Internet]. 2013 Jan [cited 2015 Apr 27];41(1):10-7. Available from: DOI: 10.1002/jcu.21990

Book, personal author(s):

4. Buckingham L. Molecular diagnostics: fundamentals, methods and clinical applications. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis; c2012.

Book or pamphlet, organization as both author and publisher:

5. College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario. Standards of practice. Toronto: The College; 2011.

Book, editor(s):

6. Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC, editors. Robbins basic pathology. 16th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; c2013.

Book,editor(s), specific chapter with individual author(s):

7. Altobelli N. Airway management. In: Kacmarek R, Stoller JK, Heuer AJ, editors. Egan’s fundamentals of respiratory care. 10th ed. St. Louis: Saunders Mosby; c2013. p. 732-86.

Electronic book, personal author(s), requiring password:

8. Martin A, Harbison S, Beach K, Cole P. An introduction to radiation protection [Internet]. 6th ed. London: Hodder Arnold; 2012 [cited 2015 May 28]. Available from: with authorized username and password.

Electronic book, organization as author, freely available:

9. OpenStax College. Anatomy & physiology [Internet]. Version 7.28. Houston: The College; 2013 Apr 25 [Updated 2015 May 27; cited 2015 May 28]. Available from:

Dictionary entry:

10. Stedman’s medical dictionary for the health professions and nursing. 7th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2012. Hematoma; p. 756.

Entry in a print reference work:

11. Canadian Pharmacists Association. CPS 2013: compendium of pharmaceuticals and specialties. 48th ed. Ottawa: The Association; c2013. Atropine: Systemic; p. 297-9.

Entry in an online reference work:

12. Canadian Pharmacists Association. eCPS. [Internet]. Ottawa: The Association; 2015. Methimazole; [revised 2012 Mar; cited 2015 May 28]; [about 6 screens]. Available from: with authorized username and password.

Wiki entry:

13. Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia [Internet]. St. Petersburg (FL): Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2001 –   Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa; [modified 2015 May 28; cited 2015 May 28]; [about 34 screens]. Available from:

Newspaper article:

14. Carville O. Health ‘snooping’ cases on the rise. Toronto Star. 2015 May 27;Sect. GT:1 (col. 3).

Electronic newspaper article:

15. Wisniewski M. Five babies at Chicago daycare diagnosed with measles. Globe and Mail [Internet]. 2015 Feb 5 [cited 2015 Feb 6];Life:[about 2 screens]. Available from:

Legal material (note: this is not addressed in Vancouver Style):

16. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, S.O. 2005, c.11 [Internet]. 2009 Dec 15 [cited 2015 May 29]. Available from:

Report available on a web page:

17. Canadian Institute for Health Information. Depression among seniors in residential care [Analysis in brief on the Internet]. Ottawa: The Institute; 2010 [cited 2015 May 29]. 18 p. Available from:

Page on a website:

18. Alzheimer Society of Canada [Internet]. Toronto: The Society; c2015. Benefits of staying active; 2013 Jan 28 [cited 2015 May 29];[about 1 screen]. Available from:

Streaming video:

19. Allen S, Waerlop I. The Gait Guys talk about great toe dorsiflexion [video on the Internet]. [place unknown]: The Gait Guys; 2014 May 11 [cited 2015 May 29]. Available from:

Electronic image:

20. Bickle I. Swallowed foreign body [radiograph]. 2014 Jul 14 [cited 2015 May 29]. Available from:

Blog post (no given name, so screen name used as author):

21. Munkee. In-111 pentetreotide imaging. 2013 Mar 19 [cited 2015 May 29]. In: Nuclear Munkee [Internet]. [place unknown]:[Munkee]; [date unknown] [about 3 screens]. Available from:

Poster presentation/session presented at a meeting or conference:

22. Chasman J, Kaplan RF. The effects of occupation on preserved cognitive functioning in dementia. Poster session presented at: Excellence in clinical practice. 4th Annual Conference of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology; 2006 Jun 15-17; Philadelphia, PA.

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Michener Institute of Education at UHN, 2018.