Using the Vancouver reference style

This page provides information from the NTNU University Library to help you when you need to use the Vancouver style.

Norsk versjon: Bruke referansestilen Vancouver

icon: pencilSee also "Academic Writing" and Using and citing sources


The Vancouver style is often used in medicine and the natural sciences, and sometimes in technology. Check which reference style your department recommends before you begin writing your paper.

Other styles

  • APA style is used in the social sciences, arts and humanities.
  • Chicago style is used in the social sciences, arts and humanities.
  • Harvard style is used in the social sciences, technology and natural sciences.

Examples of the Vancouver style in a reference list

 Vancouver - Examples

The examples show how to write references in text and in the reference list based on what kind of source you are citing.

Reference list in Vancouver style

When writing a reference list in Vancouver style:

  • Number all references
  • Arrange your list in the order in which the references appear in your text
  • If there are more than 6 authors, list the first 6 authors followed by “et al.”
  • Use official abbreviations for titles of journals (if available)

The Vancouver style for in-text citation

When using the Vancouver style in-text:

  • Write the reference with an Arabic number in brackets
  • If you reference a source more than once, use the same number you used the first time you referred to that particular source
  • If you cite several sources at the same time, cite them as (2,3) to refer to sources 2 and 3, and (2-4,8) to refer to sources 2, 3, 4 and 8.
  • You need to give a reference even when the author's name is stated in the sentence



  • Tourette's syndrome is a neurological condition characterized by ... (1).
  • Researchers such as Warwick, Taylor and Smith and King et al. (7-9) found that …


Quotations of 3 lines or fewer are placed in quotation marks (before and after). Quotations of more than 3 lines should have their own indented paragraph, without quotation marks.


  • Short quotation: “It is permissible to quote, word for word, from a source, but in most disciplines, this should be done sparingly” (5, p. 143).
  • Short quotation (the name of the author is integrated in the text): Day claims that “it is permissible to quote, word for word, from a source, but in most disciplines, this should be done sparingly” (5, p. 143).

Indirect quotations (paraphrases)

An Indirect quotation (paraphrase) is a reformulation of the original text.

Example: Furseth and Everett (4) maintain that the primary reason behind the use of citations and reference list is the idea of research as a collective endeavour. Research should be verifiable, and those reading your work should be able to find those sources your material is based upon.

Personal communications

Personal communications may be telephone conversations, e-mails, and the like. Personal communications are usually not included in the reference list but cited in text only. Example: (RS Grant, letter, 2016 May 10) ... Obtain permission from the cited person. Check with your lecturer if personal communications are suitable for use in your assignments.

Secondary sources

When using secondary sources, identify the primary source and cite the secondary source in the text. Example: According to Newman’s research, as cited in Higgins (5) … In the reference list, provide an entry for the secondary source that you have read.

More on the Vancouver style

The information on how you write references in text and in a reference list using Vancouver style is mainly from the style guide of the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), Citing Medicine (1).

ICMJE Recommendations, developed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, includes a list with examples of references in the Vancouver style.

1. Patrias K. Citing Medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2007 [updated 2 October 2015; cited 13 October 2016]. Available from:


Follow our Innsida channel “Nytt fra Universitetsbiblioteket” (“News from the University Library”).