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Citing: Vancouver style

Introduction Vancouver citing

The Vancouver citation style is a reference system that is required  for publications within Pharmacy and Medicine. 

Vancouver, guides and websites

The websites below contain unique examples: for instance references to illustrations, tweets, blogposts.

The authoritative publications below provide much information about citation styles based on Vancouver in (bio)medical journals; 

Vancouver: images

In the case of pictures, illustrations, diagrams, tables or photographs: in the text directly below the picture in question you briefly state where you have found it.

In your reading list you give the entire reference. The style you use depends on the type of source you consult!

Is the picture from a printed book, check the box about books, is the picture from a website, check the box about websites etc.

For instance: you include a diagram from a book by Monné and Jansen. If you do it correctly, you not only write down what the diagram represents, but you also give a brief reference.
Example 1 in-text reference:
'Diagram representing the course of the average daytime temperature in Maastricht between 1900 and 2000 (Monné and Jansen, 2013: p.22)'.
In your reading list you include the full reference:
Example 1 full reference:
Monné, M, Jansen T. Climate control in the Netherlands. 3rd ed. Noorbeek: Limburg Press; 2013.

If it is a picture from the internet, it may look as follows:

Example 2 full reference:
McCourtie SD, World Bank. SDM-LK-179 [Internet]. 2009 Apr 13 [cited 2009 Jun 14]. Available from:

NB: When publishing a picture, please check if it is copyrighted!

More information about copyright can be found on the Copyright Information Office of Utrecht University.

Vancouver reading list: article from an (online) scientific journal

Last name initialTitle article: Sub title. Abbreviated journal titleYear Month Day; volume (issue); page.

Example 1:
Greenhalgh T. Publishing your medical research paper: What they don't teach you at medical school. BMJ. 1999 Feb 27; 318(7183): 610.

Sometimes there is more than one author, volume and issue is not always known, in most cases there are more pages. That is why we give another example:

Example 2:
​​Jagosh J, Macaulay AC, Pluye P, Salsberg J, Bush PL, Henderson J, et al. Uncovering the benefits of participatory research: Implications of a realist review for health research and practice. Milbank Q. 2012 June; 90(2): 311-46.

NB1: Only the first six authors are given: the rest is summarised by; 'et al.'

NB2: If there is a  DOI (Digital Object Identfier) present, you could add it as a last element.

Vancouver reading list: books

Author initial(s) [no dots]. Book title. Edition. Place of publicationpublisher; year of publication.

Wolf K, Allen R, Saavedra AP.  Fitzpatrick's color atlas and synopsis of clinical dermatology. 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2013.

In the case of books there may be no authors but you will see an organisation responsible for the publication. For instance: American Veterinary Medical Association. This comes instead of the author(s).

Or there is no author at all. For instance: The Oxford concise medical dictionary. In that case you leave out the authors.

NB1:  No edition is given of first editions.

NB2:  In the case of ebooks: put  the word [internet] after the title . Put after publication year: {Accessed on: year-month-day]. Then put: Available via: ... (URL).

Vancouver reading list: Edited volume

Last name initial(s)Title of articeIn: Last name initial(s), editors. Title of edited volume. Place of publicationpublisher; year of publication. page numbers.

Meltzer PS, Kallioniemi A, Trent JM. Chromosome alterations in human solid tumors. In: Vogelstein B, Kinzler KW, editors. The genetic basis of human cancer. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2012. p.93-113.

NB1: Of first editions no edition is given

NB2:  In the case of ebooks: Put [Internet] after the chapter title. Put after the page numbers at the end; [ Accessed on: year-month-day]. Then put; Available via: ... (URL).

Vancouver reading list: website

Publishing bodyTitle. [Internet]. Available from: URL. [Accessed Date of access].

Example 1:
European Space Agency. ESA: Missions, Earth Observation: ENVISAT. [Internet]. Available from: [Accessed 3rd July 2008].

Example 2: 
Nederlands Huisartsen Genootschap. Samenvattingskaart Anemie, in herziening 2003. [Internet]. Available from: . [Accessed 11th September 2013].

NB.  Make sure that the links you include are working links! The best thing to do is to use a permanent hyperlink, for instance the  DOI (Digital Object Identifier). Never use hyperlinks from searches. They often come with a (search) session code. Once the search session is over, the hyperlink no longer works.

Vancouver reading list: blogposts

Last name Initial. Title of blogpost. Tittle of weblog. [Online]. Available from: URL [Accessed date of consultation].

Goldacre B. Trivial Disputes. Bad Science. Weblog. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 19th June 2008].

Characteristics Vancouver citation style

Special characteristics of the Vancouver style:

  • The Vancouver style is a numerical citation style.: the references are numbered consecutively in order of appearance in the text
  • The reading list is presented in ascending numbers
  • The Vancouver style does not use the full title of the journal but uses an abbreviation instead:

Example: "New England Journal of Medicine" is abbreviated as "N Engl J Med".

The abbrevations that are used are the same as in Pubmed;

  • Search in the list used by PubMed.
  • Enter the full title of the journal and put it between inverted commas.
  • Select the matching journal
  • Another useful tool is the ISI abbreviations list

Vancouver: in-text references

The Vancouver citation style is a numerical citation style.

  • The numbers are put in the text between (square) brackets or in superscript:

Vancouver reading list: tweets

Tweets are so short that it is possible to include them in their entirety - between inverted commas - in the reading list. Close with "Tweet". 

UCL Libraries "Take care on ice as 19th Century Newspapers reported loss of many lives after it broke in Regent's Park on 15 Jan.1867". 15 Jan 2013, 3:19pm. Tweet.

NB: The date and time of a message on Twitter reflect the time zone of the reader.