Citing and Referencing: Vancouver

Vancouver Reference

You cannot directly copy someone’s work in your paper without credits. This will reduce the quality and credibility of your paper. The purpose of writing a research paper or any kind of paper is to provide your audience with the original content. You can use other people’s work to compliment yours by quoting it, but you cannot do this without credits. Thus, citations are important for all papers. This article has highlighted everything you need to know before formatting your paper using Vancouver style.

What is Vancouver Style?

Vancouver style is the widely used citation style in the field of medicine and science. This style uses number referencing to cite the sources. The Vancouver citation style consists of the following.

In-text citations in the form of numbers that follow a specific sequence.

A reference list at the end of the document that contains detailed citations corresponding to every numbered in-text citation.

Vancouver Style Reference List

The reference list in Vancouver style has detailed citations to every in-text citation entry. We will have a look on the elements that are involved in the reference list.


The reference list is placed at the end of the document. You should begin the reference list at the end on the new page. You should be careful about the formatting of the reference list. It should not be messed up rather properly arranged.


The reference list is arranged by the numbers as mentioned in in-text citation not in alphabetical order. Every citation is listed one time only. The reason is that the same number is used to cite the text of the author being used many times in the text.


The name of the author is mentioned by placing the last name of author, a space, and then the initials. If there are more than six authors, list the name of the first author and then use words “et al”. The credit should also be given to editors, translators, and other contributors.


The title is mentioned in lower case letters except for the first letter of first word and proper names. Title should not be underlined or italicized.

Publication details

For the publication details, you should mention the year of publication and city of publication (if available).

Page numbers

You should make your readers completely aware of the location of the text you are quoting. For this, you should quote the page numbers in references. If the source is online and has no page number, you can also mention the paragraph number in the citation.

Online sources

For online sources, you involve the same basic information that is involved in print sources. After this basic information, you should place the URL or DOI if available. You should not use any punctuation after the URL. A period is added at the end if the URL ends with a slash.

Vancouver Style General Format

The general format of reference list is mentioned below.

  • References are arranged in numerical order as followed by in-text citations not by the alphabetical order.
  • This reference list appears at the end of the paper.
  • The reference list is placed on a new page and “references” is used in the title.
  • The Arabic numerals 1, 2, and 3are used to number the references.
  • You should cross check the citations to see if they lead to cites you have used.
  • You should stay consistent with your formatting throughout the reference list.

Referencing appendices

You often use appendices in your text, they can be your own appendices, or you might have extracted them from some other source. The citation rules for both cases are as follows.

Appendices that you own

There is no need to give references of the appendices that you have created. It would be enough if you use the words like “see appendix A” or “refer to appendix A” right after the text to which appendix relates to. These appendices should be numbered in the same sequence you are using in your text.

Appendices that you do not own

If the appendix is not yours and you have extracted it for some other source, you will treat it similar to other extracted content. It will be numbered in the proper sequence as other content is. The detailed citation will be added in the end.

In-text citation

In-text citation is in the form of numbers for Vancouver citation style. There are two cases when you need to provide the in-text citation. First is when you paraphrase someone’s work in your own words and style or when directly quoting what someone else had said.

Vancouver Style General Rules

The general rules for in-text citation are as follows.

  • Every extracted content is allocated a number. This numbering takes place in a sequential manner.
  • If you are using the same source again to extract a different piece of information, you will use the same number for it, and it will be listed once in the reference
  • Arabic numerals 1, 2, and 3 are used to number the citations.
  • The numbers are placed right after the sentence ends.
  • The numbers are placed either in square brackets or round brackets. Superscripts can also work but you should be consistent throughout the paper.
  • The numbers are placed after the comma or period. You should also consult your instructor to know the requirements. No matter what format you use, you should be consistent throughout.

Different ways of citing information

There can be different ways of citation depending on the kind of information you are citing or the nature of emphasis.

Emphasis on author

This does not matter if you are quoting or paraphrasing the information. If you want to make your citation primarily focused on your author, then your citation will look like this.

According to Robert (3) ….

(3) indicates the number of citations.

Emphasis in information

If you want your primary focus on information, the quoted or paraphrased information will have the number at the end.

…… as indicated in the study. (3)

This type of citation will focus on information rather than the author.

Multiple works by the same author

If you are using different sources for different information, every citation will have a different number and different entry in the reference list. The reference numbers are the same if the information is from the same author and same source.

Citation of secondary sources

There are many situations when you are using some author’s work for your paper and that author has also quoted another author in the work. In such cases, you will give credits to both, but the reference list will be of the author who owns this paper not the original author.

Robert (3) discusses Max’s discussion ….

Format samples of in-text citations

In-text citation can be written in following formats

By using round brackets

You can place the number of citations right after the sentence ends in a round bracket.

Example: …. covers every detail. (4)

By using square brackets

The number of citations can also be placed after the quoted text in a square bracket.

Example: …. Covers every detail. [4]

By using superscripts

The number of citations can also be added in the superscript.

Example: …. Covers every detail. (4)

The page numbers can also be mentioned in the in-text citations after the number separated by a comma in the following format.

(4, 2)

If there are more than one page number, they are separated by dash.

[4, 5-8]

Extra textual elements

When you add a table, figure or any extra textual item in your paper that is not yours and you have extracted it from another source should be cited.

The general rule for creating the references of tables, figures, charts, graphs etc. are as follows.

  • The number of figures that are mentioned in the original
  • The title of the figure is the same as the source.
  • If the source has page numbers, do mention the page number of the figure.

Personal communications

Personal communications are a rare kind of source that is used for quoting content. You should first consult your instructor if it is acceptable or not. This personal communication can be in the form of an in-person communication, email, or letters. As the personal communications are not published anywhere so they are a less credible source for quoting information. You also must ask for permission to use it. You should only use it in your paper if it has extremely relatable content for your paper. These types of sources are not listed in the reference list. The personal communication should contain the following elements.

  • The date when this communication took place.
  • The type of communication, whether it was through email or oral.
  • It would also be appropriate if you show the person’s authority in that specific field or affiliation with the related organization.


Summing up the whole discussion, Vancouver style is widely used in formatting medicine’s paper. It has both in-text citations and reference lists, but in-text citations are merely numbers. You just need a proper guide to format your paper using Vancouver style and this article has done that for you.