In-text citations in Vancouver Style

Create a spot-on reference in Vancouver

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General rules for in-text citations

The official manual of Vancouver Style – Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers – sets forth the rules only for bibliographic references and does not consider the in-text citations.

Given the fact that Vancouver Style uses the author-sequence system, the numbering of sources in a bibliography corresponds to the order in which theses sources appear in the text; at the same time, the in-text citations are represented by the numbers corresponding to the respective numbers of the bibliographic entries. Thus, in contrast to citation styles such as Harvard, APA, MLA, etc., Vancouver Style requires citing parenthetically only the number of a work instead of its author or year of publication. When needed, the author’s name can be given within the appropriate sentence. Compare these examples:

In a list of references:


9. Wenzel SE, Vitari CA, Shende M, Strollo DC, Larkin A, Yousem SA. Asthmatic granulomatosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med [Internet]. 2012 Sep 15 [cited 2021 May 29];186(6):501-7. Available from: doi: 10.1164/rccm.201203-0476OC


In the text (without the author’s name given):

The occurrences of asthmatic granulomatosis are <…> (9).

In the text (with the author’s name given):

As noted by Wenzel et al., the occurrences of asthmatic granulomatosis are <…> (9).

As there are no official recommendations as regards the format of the in-text citations in the Vancouver system, three most widely used models can be pointed out:

1. In parentheses:

(reference number)


The symptoms of COVID-19 affect <…> (2).

2. In brackets:

[reference number]


The symptoms of COVID-19 affect <…> [2].

3. Superscript:

reference number


The symptoms of COVID-19 affect <…>.2

There might also be other variants, for example, superscript number in brackets, as well as various punctuation schemes (citations before or after a full stop). To use the correct format, please consult the requirements of the particular journal or university.

Citing multiple works in parentheses

There might be variation in this case too. However, according to the general rule, the numbers of sources should be given within the same parentheses and should be separated by commas:

The symptoms of COVID-19 affect <…> (1, 4, 7, 8).

Citing particular pages, etc.

Most often, Vancouver Style requires citing a work as a whole. However, a detailed citation pointing to a particular part (a page, etc.) of a work can be given as well. In general (taking into account possible variations), the cited part should be separated from the number of the work by a space without a comma:

The symptoms of COVID-19 affect <…> (1 p. 5).

Other citation styles: