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Vancouver Referencing

In-text citations

  • A citation is an acknowledgement in your text of references that support your work.  It is in the form of a number that correlates with a source in your reference list.
  • The Vancouver sequential number system assigns a number to each reference as it is cited.  Citations within the text of the essay/paper are identified by Arabic numbers in superscript with no brackets.  This applies to references in text, tables and figures. eg. Smith10 has argued that ...
  • The identification of references within the text of the essay/paper may vary according to the preferred style of the journal or the preferred style of the department or lecturer.  For example Arabic numbers in round brackets may be preferred when referencing. eg. Example(3)
  • A number is allocated to a source in the order in which it is first cited in the text. If the source is referred to again, the same reference number is reused. For example, if a reference by Moir is the first one to be referred to in the text, then Moir's reference number is number 1 in the list. If you refer to this work by Moir again later in the text, you reuse number 1. You can add a page number to your reference number to indicate the exact location in the original source. 
  • For citing and/or reproducing/adapting charts, tables, figures, maps and other illustrative materials from a source, please refer to this guide's Tables/Figures section.
  • When multiple references are cited at a given place in the text, use a hyphen to join the first and last numbers that are inclusive. Use commas (without spaces) to separate non‐inclusive numbers in a multiple citation eg. 2,3,4,5,7,10 is abbreviated to 2‐5,7,10.
  • Do not use a hyphen if there are no citation numbers in between that support your statement e.g. 1‐2  use instead 1,2
  • The placement of citation numbers within text should be carefully considered.  A particular reference may be relevant to only part of a sentence.  As a general rule reference numbers:
    • should be placed outside full stops and commas.
    • should be placed inside colons and semicolons.
    • the citation number can be place next to the author name where emphasis is placed on the author eg. Smith2
    • check with your faculty/school or journal publisher to determine their requirements.

Page numbers are included with in-text citations when direct quotes are used. The page numbers are included in round brackets after the number in superscript (no spacing). The source then appears only once in the list of references.

In-text citation:

Short quotes

"Diabetes is a major health problem in the elderly."1(p1) 

Important iconQuotation marks enclose short quotes. The in-text citation, including the page number(s), is placed after the full-stop and quotation marks.

If emphasis is placed on the author then the in-text citation can be placed after the author's name(s) without using quotation marks: 

Hayes and Unwin1(p1) state that diabetes is a major health problem in the elderly.

Quotes longer than 4 lines

Furthermore, evidence of an acceleration in the rate of increase is apparent. Between 1979 and 1984 the prevalence increased by 4% each year, but in the last 5 years for which data were available, this increase had risen to over 10% annually [11]. The available evidence suggests that the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in the elderly has doubled over the last 15–20 years. It should be noted that these figures are for diagnosed diabetes only. A substantial proportion of diabetes that is undiagnosed exists. It has been estimated that a little over a quarter of people with diabetes are currently undiagnosed [13].1(p5,6)  

Important iconAn indented block of text, in smaller type, is used for quotes longer than 4 lines. The in-text citation is placed at the end of the text after the full-stop.

Reference list:

  1. Hayes, L, Unwin, NC. (2011). The epidemiology of diabetes in older people. In: Hawthorne, G editor. Diabetes care for the older patient. Springer, London (UK). p. 1-17. [cited 2024 Jan 19]. Available from 

Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers (2nd edition) and AMA manual of style provide detailed guidance in formatting bibliographic citations in Vancouver referencing style.