When is Vancouver referencing used?
The Vancouver referencing style was developed by the ICMJE (the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors). It happens to be one of the simpler referencing styles as it uses a quick and easy numbered citation system. It’s used mainly in Biology and in Biochemistry (alongside the Harvard referencing style).
You will need to reference the materials and resources you have used for your own writing in two places:
- In text citations: A small number is added (in superscript) onto the end of the information you need to reference (just before any punctuation), which links the info to the full details of the reference found in your Reference List. These superscript numbers increase in sequence throughout your text – ¹, ², ³ etc.
The Tabletop theory¹ is challenged by the studio-based movement². Farthing argues that “the movement was clearly drawing a line under…³”.
- Reference List: Directly after your essay, you then list the sources you’ve used in full, numbered in the order they appear in your essay (rather than alphabetically).
Additionally, if you’ve done other reading around the subject, but aren’t referring to those texts specifically, you can choose to list those sources alphabetically in a Bibliography at the end of your essay.
Exactly what to include in your references depends on the type of source the information comes from. Our referencing tool will ask you for what’s needed for each material type, but if you don’t have everything you need, this guide takes you through what you need to do. As well as this, we explain how in-text citations work in the Vancouver referencing style.
How to use our free Vancouver referencing generator
Don’t forget that doing your referencing incorrectly could impact your marks. Always take some time before you submit your assignment to manually check your reference list once you’ve assembled it.
To use our free referencing tool, simply select which kind of resource you need to reference and fill in all the information that’s needed for that specific source material type. Then click ‘Generate reference’ and your Vancouver style reference will be ready for you to paste into your Reference List. It’s as easy as that.
If you don’t have all the information you need, that’s when things get a little more complicated. See the next section if you’re missing some of the essential info.
What to do if you don't have all the information
You don’t know the publication date
You should question a resource if it can’t be dated. Sometimes, however, you will need to reference historical references that won’t have a precise date. If it’s an online resource you’re using, you could use the date a page was last updated. If you don’t have a date at all, use ‘[date unknown]’. Or, if you can’t identify an exact date, but clues in the content give an estimated date you can show this with ‘[year?]’. For example:
- Farthing S. ART The Whole Story. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd; [2010?].
You don’t know an author’s name
If you’re looking at a source that doesn’t state who it’s been written by, you should again question its credibility. There may be times it does need to be included, so if that’s the case, you’ll just need to make do with the information you can find. Use any listed contributors instead – if it’s an online resource, you should be able to find a name on the ‘About’ section of their website.
For a printed resource, you could use the publishing company as the author as the last resort. You’ll find this just inside the cover of the publication. Never use ‘Anonymous’. The publisher or an organisation is always better e.g. Royal Sussex County Hospital.
Vancouver Referencing - Your questions answered
What if you need to refer to the same text multiple times?
On these occasions, you simply use the same superscript number again and again. So, the order of the superscript numbers in your essay could go something like 1,2,3,4,1,5,6,1,2,7 etc. Then in your Reference List, you will of course mention each reference only once.
What if one source has multiple contributors?
If there are 2-6 contributors to a source, all of the names need to be include in your reference, separated by commas. Make sure these are listed in the order they appear in the source.
- Farthing S, Dadswell M, Strong K, Burley T. Pueblo Pottery: a handbook. 3rd ed. Brighton: BN Publications; 2020.
If there are seven or more contributors to a source, you need to use the first six authors names (as above), then just add ‘et al’ directly after the final initial, to show that there are more.
What if more than one author contributes to an argument you’re making?
If you’re using a number of sources to support an argument that you’re making, you’ll need to include that number of sources within one citation. To do this, you simply list the superscript numbers one after each other, separated by a comma. For example, 1,3,6.
For a range of sources that appear consecutively in your Reference List, you can include that range using a hyphen, eg 5-9.
How much can you abbreviate?
In science publications, it’s commonplace to abbreviate commonly used words that come up a lot in the text. You can find a published list of standard abbreviations in science academia on CAS.org. If you need to use non-standard abbreviations of your own, this is ok to do too. Just make sure that you define what these are when you use each for the first time.
When do you need to quote directly from a source?
You must distinguish clearly when you are using someone else’s content word for word. You do this with quotation marks. In the Vancouver referencing style, you use double quotation marks. You also need to include the page number the content appears in the original source, if you have this.
If your quote is 1-3 long, you should integrate the quote within your text. For example:
As Dadswell states, “the studio-based moment didn’t…”¹ (p.67).
But, if you are including a longer quote that is made up of 3 lines or more, you should drop the quotation marks and it should be separated out from the text a little. To do this, you simply move the quote to a new line and indent it.
Farthing states that:
Pottery making has been an integral component of indigenous communities in the Southwest for thousands of years. Until the early 20th century, when tourist demand for pots outstripped supply, pottery making was the domain of Puebloan women. Like their ancestors, Pueblo women gathered clay from sacred places¹ (p.67).
What’s included in your word count?
Any in-text citations you use are usually included in your word count. Your Reference List / any bibliography are not included in your word count.