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Vancouver Style Referencing and
Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to
Biomedical Journals

Vancouver style (Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals) first published in 
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver style referencing refers to a numbered reference style that was first specified in the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals. These formatting guidelines were originally published by a group of editors in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1979. The expanded guidelines in Uniform Requirements are now developed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).1

The Uniform Requirements focus on the ethical and technical aspects of publishing biomedical manuscripts. Authors will find information on the preparation and formatting of various parts of a manuscript, including the title page, abstract, tables, figures, and references. The formatting of references required by Uniform Requirements is based on a style developed by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Many biomedical journals subscribe to the recommendations outlined in Uniform Requirements, as indicated in the instructions to authors. However, journals may have additional requirements for writing style, types of contributions, acceptable topics, and so forth. Authors should always consult the journal's instructions before submitting a manuscript.

Visit the ICMJE Web site for more information about Uniform Requirements.

Vancouver Style References and Citations

ICMJE recommends that authors refer to NLM guidelines for formatting references at the Citing Medicine Web site.2

Table 1 presents several examples of references in NLM format. Visit the NLM site to view the ICJME page of sample references for Uniform Requirements.

To compare sample references formatted in other styles, please visit the AMA style and APA style pages.

Table 1. Sample National Library of Medicine Style References

Publication Type Sample
Journal Article
1 author 12. Brown JE. Vancouver style: formatting references. J Med Style. 2007 Jan;5(10 Suppl 1):516-28.
2-6 authors 13. Brown JE, Smyth PT, Xu YC. Vancouver style: formatting references. J Med Style. 2007 Sep;83(3):1-15.
>6 authors 16. Brown JE, Smyth PT, Xu YC, Sun TN, Thomas
ABC, Frank PQ, Just V. Vancouver style: formatting references. J Med Style. 2007 Dec;(Pt 2):98-103.
Entire Book
1 editor
51. Thomas ABC, editor. Vancouver reference style: a history. New York: Z&E Publishers; 2007. 582 p.
Article or Chapter in a Book
2 authors 89. Bjork CE Jr, McLeod RD. Formatting citations. In: Laurent B 3rd, Cool JR, editors. A history of citations and references. 5th ed. Geneva (Switzerland): Tangelo Press; 2006. p. 93-7.
Presentation (Not Yet Published)
>6 authors 95. Thomas ABC, Sato T, Ferdinand AB, et al. Uniform requirements style for authors and students. Paper presented at: 25th Annual Meeting of the Association for Scholarly Styles; 2005 Apr 1-2; London, England.
Manuscript Accepted for Publication
1 author 98. Brown JE. The relation between citations and references. J Med Style. Forthcoming 2008.
Web Site
1 author 99. Thomas ABC. Vancouver reference style [Internet]. Oaktown (ON): University of Oaktown, Department of Science; 2007 Nov 1 [updated 2008 Jan 11; cited 2008 Feb 19]. Available from:

*All references are fictitious.

NLM lists all author names. As an option, the number of names may be limited to the first three or six, followed by "et al." or "and others." Both styles are shown in Table 1, but one style should be used consistently.


  1. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors [homepage on the Internet]. Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publications [accessed November 9, 2009]. Available from:

  2. Patrias, Karen. Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers [Internet]. 2nd ed. Wendling, Daniel L., technical editor. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2007 [cited 2009 Nov 9]. Available from:

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