Vancouver (Numbered) System


This guide was written for undergraduate medical students of Leicester Medical School.

The Vancouver Style uses numbers as in text citations. The first reference cited is numbered (1), the second (2), and so on.  If you cite the first one again later in your document, it is numbered (1).

The reference list (bibliography) at the end of your document lists references in the order they were cited.   Only references that you cite are listed in the bibliography.

The references in the bibliography follow a set format: see examples below.

The citation number can be placed outside the text punctuation to avoid disruption to the flow of the text, or be placed inside the text punctuation. The latter is preferred at Leicester.

Use numbered citations in your text

Number references consecutively in the order in which they are first mentioned in the text. Identify references in text, tables and legends by Arabic numerals in parentheses, like this: (1), (2). Do not use [square brackets] and do not make the citations superscript.

If you are citing more than one source at the same point, do this: (1-3), (1, 4)

Adding page numbers to citations

The style does not allow for this and so you cannot do it in RefWorks. To include a specific page number (for example if you have quoted or used a figure or table), put the page number in your text, for example:

John Sulston says “Natural justice urges that they should be used in an equitable way to benefit all, not only for profitable ends but also for work on the diseases of the poor” (p.400) (1)

There is no need to put the specific page number in your bibliography, just for articles the page range:

1. Sulston J. Beyond release: the equitable use of genomic information. Lancet.  2003 Aug 2;362(9381):400-2.

References in the bibliography

Only include something in the bibliography if you have cited it.

Vancouver in RefWorks

Use the “Uniform - Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” in RefWorks. This is a “University of Leicester Specific Style” and is therefore available to all users automatically. Do not use RefWorks' “Vancouver” style - it is not so accurate.

If you want to use EndNote, please contact us for advice.

Journal articles

Stannard W, Rutman A, Wallis C, O'Callaghan C. Central microtubular agenesis causing primary ciliary dyskinesia. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004;169:634-7.

The titles of journals should be abbreviated using the abbreviation in the PubMed Journals Database and are followed by a full stop. If the journal is not in that list, use the full journal title, do not make up an abbreviation!

2004 is the year of publication, 169 the volume number.  Shorten page ranges, so 634-7 not 634-637.   You can omit the part number (unless the journal starts numbering the pages of each part at page 1 or the part is a supplement). You can also omit the issue date (e.g. Mar 1). To omit these things, you will need to remove that data from the record in RefWorks. However, it is acceptable to keep the part number and issue date.

List up to six authors. If there are more, then list the first six and et al.

If there are no authors, leave the author field in RefWorks blank. Do not use “Anon.” or “Anonymous”. For example:

Coffee drinking and cancer of the pancreas (Editorial). Br Med J. 1981;283:628

If you read the journal article online strictly speaking you should include the date you accessed it and the URL. You will need to make sure that this information is in RefWorks – make the Reference Type “Journal, Electronic”. For example:

Edelstein M, Pitchforth E, Asres G, Silverman M, Kulkarni N. Awareness of health effects of cooking smoke among women in the Gondar region of Ethiopia: A pilot survey. BMC Int Health Hum Rights [Internet]. 2008 Jul 18 [cited 6th June 2014];8:10. Available from:


A book with authors:
Thalange N. Essentials of paediatrics. 2nd ed. Oxford: Saunders; 2012.

A book with editors, if you are citing the entire book:
Greenwood D, editor. Medical microbiology: A guide to microbial infections : Pathogenesis, immunity, laboratory diagnosis and control. 18th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2012.

Chapter in an edited book - include details of the authors and title of chapter and the editors and title of book:
Peiris JSM. Coronaviruses. In: Greenwood D, editor. Medical microbiology: a guide to microbial infections : pathogenesis, immunity, laboratory diagnosis and control. 18th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2012. p. 587-93.

Include the first six authors or editors. You may find, if you have imported the book details from the Library, that only the first three authors or editors are present. You can edit the record in RefWorks and add the others, but it is acceptable in these cases to list only the first three.

RefWorks has no Reference Type for an ebook, so treat an ebook as a print book.  If you read the ebook on your iPad, cite it as if it was the print book.


Medecins sans Frontieres. South Sudan: bringing diabetes treatment home [Internet]. [cited 27th February 2017]. Available from:

If you cannot find a date of “publication” (as in the example above), leave the date field in RefWorks blank.  "cited" is the date that you saw the page.

RefWorks' Uniform style does not allow you to have authors for websites.   Put any authors at the beginning of the title field in RefWorks.   This is true for the Legacy and New versions of RefWorks.  (The New version does have an author field for websites, but it does not display in a reference in the Uniform style).

Mobile apps

If you are citing a webpage about an app, use the advice about websites above.   If you have the information you are citing from an app, use this example:

TeachMeSeries Ltd. Teach me anatomy. Android. (version 5.18). [Mobile app]. Available from: Google Play Store.

Images, tables, figures

If you have used an image, table or figure, you must cite a reference so that your readers know where you obtained it from.  Add a caption, for example:

Figure 1. The clavicle, from Nockels, 2015 (1)

Table 1. Length of stay by patient age, adapted from Briggs, 2015 (2)

Numbering your figures and tables makes it easier to refer to them in your text.  You can right click on the image and use Word’s “Insert Caption”, but you cannot use RefWorks to generate the table and figure numbers.

Use RefWorks to insert the citation number.  The reference will then appear in the bibliography.

Please note that there may be a problem inserting the citation if the caption is in a text box.  Citations may be numbered out of order.   To avoid the problem, put the caption outside the text box, or format it outside the text box and then cut and paste it into the box.

If you need to include a page number in your citation, see “Adding page numbers to citations” above.

University of Leicester lecture notes or slides

The title of the source needs to make it clear that the source is lecture slides or a module handbook. So, for example, add to the title “Slides from a lecture given at Leicester Medical School on <date>...", or “Workbook, Body Logistics, 2017/18”.

In RefWorks, add the item manually as "personal communication" and put this extra information into the “Description” field. This will display in your bibliography.

Use the lecturer’s name or the name of the module leaders as authors.  If you cannot determine who these people are, then use Leicester Medical School as the author.

NICE guidelines

Treat the printed version as a book.

Treat the online version as a website. The author is the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (or the name that NICE had at the time of publication) and in RefWorks, put this at the start of the title field.

British National Formulary

Do not follow the guidance in the BNF itself.  Instead, do this.

Joint Formulary Committee. Diclofenac sodium. in: Joint Formulary Committee. British National Formulary. London: BMJ Group and Pharmaceutical Press [Internet]. [cited 28th February 2017]. Available from:

Everything from the start of the reference to of Great Britain goes into the title field in RefWorks, in both the new and Legacy versions.

The author of the BNF for Children is the Paediatric Formulary Committee.

Reports, for example, from the British Heart Foundation or Diabetes UK

Treat print versions as a book.

Treat online versions as a website. In both versions of RefWorks, put the name of the organisation at the start of the title.

Clinical Knowledge Summaries

Treat as a website. In both versions of RefWorks put National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Clinical Knowledge Summaries. at the start of the title and put the date of last update in the Last Updated, Full Date field.

Religious texts

The Bible:

Matthew 5: 3-12, Holy Bible. New International Version.

Include the version but no need for a date of publication or publisher.

The Qur'an:

Qur'an 20: 26. Translated by Abdel Haleem, M.A.S. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2010.

Recommendations are based on those in Pears R, Shields GJ. Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 10th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan; 2016.

UK legal materials

The examples in the ICMJE guide and Citing Medicine are all for US law.   To cite UK law, we recommend you format the references as detailed in the OSCOLA style, but give the name of the law report in full.   Please contact us for advice.

Secondary referencing

This is where you have not seen a source, only a reference to it in another publication.

Secondary referencing should only be used on rare occasions and not employed as a matter of course. Do everything possible to find the original source, and reference the original source. If you have done everything you can to locate the original source and not succeeded, and only found a reference to that source in another publication, then do this: in your text mention both authors, but only cite the source that you have read. For example:

Nockels, cited in Briggs (1), says…

And in your bibliography:

(1) Briggs, S. …

How often to cite a source?

If you have used a single source many times in one paragraph, do you need to cite the source each time you have used it?

It needs to be clear from your referencing which pieces of information you have taken from the source. However, it is best to avoid citing the same source many times in one paragraph. So, rather than this:

Primary glomerular disease affects only the kidney (2). Secondary disease affects other tissues (2).

Do this:

O’Callaghan (2) summarises the classification of glomerular disease. Primary disease affects only the kidney, but secondary disease affects other tissues in addition.

Other examples, or more details

If you want to cite something that is not listed in this guide, or need more detail, check the examples from the National Library of Medicine, or the more detailed Citing Medicine: the NLM style guide.

You may find that these two sources differ from each other and this guide in minor points of detail!

If neither of these sources help, or you still need advice, please contact the Library,,  tel. (0116) 252 2044.

Share this page:

Succeed in your studies

Learn at Leicester gateway to help and resources for academic skills.

Visit Succeed in your studies - the University's gateway to all the resources and services available to support your learning and academic progress.

Ask Us

Image of a question mark used for the Library's Ask Us service.

Need help? Ask Us!


We value your suggestions and feedback, please make a comment.