Learn Vancouver Format

The Vancouver style was first defined by a meeting of medical journal editors in Vancouver, Canada, in 1978. These guidelines follow the principles given in the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and editing for biomedical publication published by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) in 2004 and the American Medical Association Manual of Style, 9th edition, 1998. These publications constitute authoritative international guides to Vancouver publication standards and style.

Vancouver Style uses a notational method of referencing when referring to a source of information within the text of a document. In its simplest form, a citation is given consisting of a number in superscript format or enclosed by parentheses.


Only a partial title and the page number are necessary, located in the upper or lower right, providing it is consistent.

Cover Page

Since the Vancouver style is generally only used for submitting medical articles to medical journals (so, unless you are a doctor, or about to be, you may never use this), the title page follows a strict guideline. First is the title of the paper, centered. The title should be short, however a longer descriptive title may follow it. (This is especially important in medical journals, because the more keywords used, the more likely the paper will be found.) Then follows the name of the author, and his or her credentials. Next is the department, and then the university or institution. After this, put the author's contact information. Lastly, a word count is necessary, and, if applicable, the name of a professor or institution who requesting the paper or sponsoring the study.

Following is an example of a heading in the Vancouver format:

Dangerous Genetics:

Propensity of Huntington's Disease in Families, and an Examination of its Occurrence in Western Europeans
William French, M.D.
Biology Department
University of Michigan
1234 S. Michigan Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48222
Wd Count: 25685
In-Text Citations

A number in superscript format eg.6 or enclosed in parentheses eg. (6), placed in the text of the essay, indicates the relevant reference. Citations are numbered chronologically and each citation corresponds to a numbered reference containing publication information about the source cited in the reference list at the end of the publication, essay or assignment. Once a source has been cited, the same number is used in all subsequent references. No distinction is made between print and electronic references when citing within the text.
Here are some examples of referencing in the Vancouver format:
Superscript Format
The largest lesion in the first study was 10 cm.13
The theory was first put forward in 1987.1
Scholtz2 has argued that...


The largest lesion in the first study was 10 cm (13).
The theory was first put forward in 1987 (1).
Scholtz (2) has argued that...

It is not necessary to mention either the author(s) or date of the reference unless it is relevant to your text. Remember the numbers do not change once they are assigned. If you cite a book written by Margaret Jones, and give it the number 2, then cite it three pages later—it is still 2. This is probably the most important aspect of Vancouver style.


A numbered list of references must be provided at the end of the paper. The list should be arranged in the order of citation in the text of the publication, assignment or essay, not in alphabetical order. List only one reference per reference number. It is very important that you use the correct punctuation and that the order of details in the references is also correct.

The following examples demonstrate the format for a variety of types of references. Included are some examples of citing electronic documents. Such items come in many forms, so only some examples have been listed here.


Only the first word of in the title of a book or conference should be capitalized, except for proper nouns or acronyms. Capitalize the "v" in Volume for a book title.

Author/editor AA. Title: subtitle. Edition (if not the first). Vol.(if a multivolume work). Place of publication: Publisher; Year. p. page number(s) (if appropriate).
Hoppert M. Microscopic techniques in biotechnology. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH; 2003.

Author of article AA, Author of article BB, Author of article CC. Title of article. Abbreviated Title of Journal. year; vol(issue):page number(s).
Drummond PD. Triggers of motion sickness in migraine sufferers. Headache. 2005;45(6):653-6.

Author A, Author B. Title of e-book [format]. Place: Publisher; Date of original publication
[cited year abbreviated month day]. Available from : Source. URL
van Belle G, Fisher LD, Heagerty PJ, Lumley TS. Biostatistics: a methodology for the health sciences [e-book]. 2nd ed. Somerset (NJ): Wiley InterScience; 2003 [cited 2005 Jun 30]. Available from: Wiley InterScience electronic collection.
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