Home Vancouver referencing

What is referencing?
Why reference?

Steps involved in referencing
How to cite references within the text of an assignment
How to create a reference list
Examples of types of printed references
Examples of types of electronic references
More information

What is referencing?

Referencing is a standardised method of acknowledging sources of information and ideas that you have used in your assignment; in a way that uniquely identifies their source. Direct quotations, facts and figures, as well as ideas and theories, from both published and unpublished works must be referenced. There are many acceptable forms of referencing. This information sheet provides a brief guide to the Vancouver referencing style. In this system each reference is identified within the text of the assignment by a number. References are numbered consecutively in the order in which they are first mentioned in the text. Full details of each citation are contained in a numerically arranged list at the end of the assignment.

This information sheet is only a guide, and contains an interpretation of the Vancouver referencing system. For an authoritative guide to Vancouver referencing, refer to:

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. JAMA 1997; 277:927-34.

and for a more detailed guide to referencing electronic information sources refer to:

Li X, Crane NB. Electronic styles: A handbook for citing electronic information. 2nd ed. Medford (NJ): Information Today; 1996.

The information and examples contained in this handout are derived mainly from the above publications.

It is very important that you check your department's or school's assignment guide as some details, eg punctuation, may vary from the guidelines on this sheet. You may be penalised for not conforming to your school's requirements.

Why reference?

Referencing is necessary to avoid plagiarism; to enable the reader to verify quotations; and to enable readers to follow-up and read more fully the cited author's arguments.

Steps involved in referencing

  • Take down the full bibliographical details including the page number(s) from which the information is taken.
  • In the case of a book, "bibliographical details" refers to:
      place of publication
      year of publication.
    (Not all of these details will necessarily be applicable).

    In the case of a journal article it refers to:

      author of article
      title of article
      journal/serial title abbreviation (as in Index Medicus)
      date of publication
      volume number
      issue number
      page numbers on which the article appears.

    (If the serial is continuously paginated, month and issue may be omitted.)

    In the case of electronic information it refers to:

      author / editor
      article title
      journal title abbreviation
      medium (e.g. CD-ROM, Online, etc)
      access date
      date of publication
      pages or length
      "available" statement (e.g. WWW addres, supplier and name of electronic database, Email address, etc.

    (If the serial is continuously paginated, month and issue may be omitted.)
  • Insert the number for each citation in parentheses at the appropriate place within the text of the document.
  • Provide a numbered reference list at the end of the document (see examples below).
When citing references within the text of an assignment use only the number of the reference, in parentheses. References should be numbered consecutively in the order in which they first appear in the text.
    Larsen (21) was the first to propound the theory.
    The theory was first propounded in 1970 by Larsen (21).
When directly quoting from another source, ensure that quotation marks are used and the relevant page number(s) are given.
    Larsen (21, p. 245) noted that "many of the facts in this case are incorrect".
    "Many of the facts in this case are incorrect" (Larsen (21), pp. 245-6).
A reference list contains details only of those works cited in the text. If relevant sources that are not cited in the text are included, the list is called a bibliography.
The reference list is arranged numerically by citation number.

Referencing examples from printed sources:

Articles/chapters in book:

Bibliographic details are arranged in the sequence:

    author of chapter
    chapter title
    editor(s) of book
    title of book
    place of publication
    year of publication
    article or chapter pages
Article or chapter in a book
    Phillips SJ, Whisnant JP, Hypertension and stroke. In: Laragh JH, Brenner BM, editors. Hypertension: pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management. 2nd ed. New York: Raven Press; 1995. p. 465-78.
Article or chapter in a book (no author)
    Solving the Y2K problem. In Bowd D, editor. Technology today and tomorrow. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold; 1997. p. 27.


Bibliographic details are arranged in the sequence:

    title of book
    edition of book
    place of publication
    date of publication
Book with a personal author
    Ringsven MK, Bond D. Gerontology and leadership skills for nurses. 2nd ed. Albany (NY): Delmar Publishers; 1996.
Book with editor as author
    Norman IJ, Redfern SJ, editors. Mental health care for elderly people. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 1996.
Organisation as author and publisher
    Institute of Medicine (US). Looking at the future of the Medicaid program. Washington: The Institute; 1992.
Conference proceedings
    Kimura J, Shibasaki H, editors. Recent advances in clinical neurophysiology. Proceedings of the 10th International Congress of EMG and Clinical Neurophysiology; 1995 Oct 15-19; Kyoto,Japan. Amsterdam: Elsevier; 1996.
Scientific or Technical Report
    Smith P, Golladay K. Payment for durable medical equipment billed during skilled nursing facility stays. Final report. Dallas (TX): Dept. of Health and Human Services (US), Office of Evaluation and Inspections; 1994 Oct.Report No.: HHSIGOEI69200860.
    Kaplan SJ. Post-hospital home health care: the elderly’s access and utilization [dissertation]. St Louis (MO): Washington Univ.; 1995.
    Larsen CE, Trip R, Johnson CR, inventors; Novoste Corporation, assignee. Methods for procedures related to the electrophysiology of the heart. US patent 5,529,067. 1995 Jun 25.

Journal Article

Bibliographic details are arranged in the sequence:

    author of journal article
    article title
    journal title abbreviation*
    date of publication
    volume of journal
    issue of journal**
    article pages
*Abbreviations must be according to the style used in Index Medicus. See List of Journals Indexed in Index Medicus.
URL: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/tsd/serials/lji.html
**In the Vancouver system, if a journal is continuously paginated throughout a volume, the month and issue number may be omitted.

Standard Journal Article
(List the first six authors, followed by "et al.")
    Vega KJ, Pina I, Krevsky B. Heart transplantation is associated with an increased risk of pancreatobiliary disease. Ann Intern Med 1996;124:980-3.
Journal Article, more than 6 authors
    Parkin DM, Clayton D, Black RJ, Masuyer E, Friesl HP, Ivanov E, et al. Childhood leukaemia in Europe after Chernobyl: 5 year follow up. Br J Cancer 1996;73:1006-12.
Journal Article (no author)
    Cancer in South Africa [editorial]. S Afr Med J 1994;84:15.
Journal Article organization as author
    The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand. Clinical exercise stress testing. Safety and performance guidelines. Med J Aust 1996;164:282-4.
Newspaper article
    Lee G. Hospitalizations tied to ozone pollution: study estimates 50,000 admissions annually. The Washington Post 1996 Jun 21;Sect. A:3 (col. 5).

References to Legislation

Acts of Parliament

    National Health Act 1953 (Cth), s.98.
    Pharmacy Act 1964 (WA) s.29.
Subsidiary or Delegated Legislation
    Patents Regulations 1996 (Cth) s.1.
    Health (Asbestos) Regulations 1992 (WA) ss.10(2). Western Australian Government Gazette, 1992 22 May.


    HIV+/AIDS: the facts and the future [videocassette]. St. Louis (MO): Mosby-Year Book; 1995.

Monograph in electronic format

    CDI, clinical dermatology illustrated [monograph on CD-ROM]. Reeves JRT, Maibach H. CMEA Multimedia Group, producers. 2nd ed. Version 2.0. San Diego: CMEA; 1995.

Computer File

    Hemodynamics III: the ups and downs of hemodynamics [computer program]. Version 2.2. Orlando (FL): Computerized Educational Systems; 1993.

Journal Article

Bibliographic details are arranged in the sequence:

    author of journal article
    article title
    journal title abbreviation
    type of medium (use "Electronic" if you are unsure if it is online or networked CD-ROM)
    date of publication
    cited (i.e. access) date
    volume of journal
    issue of journal
    article pages or indication of length
    "available" statement: supplier/database name/identifier or number if available/item or accession number
Journal Article Abstract from Electronic Database
    Helaleh MI, Korenaga T, Abu Nameh ES, Jamhour RM. [Abstract of: Assay of paracetamol by oxidation with peroxydisulfate. Pharm Acta Helv [electronic] 1999 [cited 2000 Jun 12];73:255-60]. Available from: Silver Platter File: IPA /37-03020.
Full text journal article from Electronic Database
    Sale P. Carey DM. The sociometric status of students with disabilities in a full inclusion school. Except Child [serial online] 1995 [cited 1998 Jun 12]; 73(5):255-60. Available from: Information Access/Expanded Academic ASAP/A1743539.
Full text journal article from an Electronic Journal
    Morse SS. Factors in the emergence of infectious diseases. Emerg Infect Dis [serial online] 1995 Jan-Mar [cited 1996 Jun 5]; 1(1):[24 screens]. Available from: URL: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/eid.htm
Article from Curtin Electronic Reserve
    Ozben T, Nacitarhan S, Tuncer N. Plasma and urine salic acid in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus [electronic]. Ann Clin Biochem 1995 [cited 2001 Feb 24];(Pt 3):303-6. Available from: Curtin University Library & Information Service E-Reserve/dc60012345.

Electronic Mail

E-mail (Personal)

    Corliss B. News from Seattle. E-mail to Li X, [online] 1999 Jan 13 [cited 1999 Jan 15] Available from: E-mail: xli@uvmvm.uvm.edu
Discussion List
    Berkowitz P. Sussy's gravestone. Mark Twain Forum [online] 1995 April 3 [cited 1995 Apr 3] Available from: E-mail: TWAIN-L@yorkvm1.bitnet

World Wide Web

World Wide Web page

    Beckleheimer J. How do you cite URL's in a bibliography? [online] 1994 [cited 1995 Dec 13]. Available from: URL: http://www.nrlssc.navy.mil/meta/bibliography.html
World Wide Web page (no author)
    Educating America for the 21st century: Developing a strategic plan for educational leadership [online] 1994 [cited 1995 May 15]. Available from: URL: http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/CONF/EdPlan.html
World Wide Web Home Page
    Curtin University of Technology. [Homepage of the Curtin University of Technology]. [online] 2000 May 22 last update. [cited 2000 Jun 12]. Available from: URL: http://www.curtin.edu.au/