• 3-minute read
  • 19th December 2017

Vancouver Referencing

Join us on a journey north. Out of Australia, across the ocean and all the way to British Columbia in Canada. There, we find a city called ‘Vancouver’. Among its many claims to fame, Vancouver has a referencing system named after it. And that is what we are going to look at on the blog today!

The home of Vancouver referencing.

What Is Vancouver Referencing?

Vancouver referencing is so called because of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, who once met in Vancouver to agree on a referencing style for all biomedical journals.

They eventually decided on an ‘author-number’ system. In this, authors use numbered citations in the text to indicate entries in a reference list, where the author and text are named.

However, strictly speaking, Vancouver is not a ‘system’. Instead, it is a reference style with several variations (e.g. style of punctuation and use of italics). As such, if your university recommends Vancouver referencing, it is important to check your style guide carefully.

Basic Citations

Although versions of Vancouver referencing can differ, they all cite sources similarly. This involves giving a number in the text, with sources numbered in the order they’re cited.

These numbers are usually given in parentheses (1) or square brackets [2], but some versions use superscript numbers.3 Typically, the citation will go at the end of the relevant passage:

Canada has a long history of immigration (1).

However, if the author is named in the text, you should give the citation immediately afterwards:

Smith (2) claims that this is essential for the economy.

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You can also cite page numbers in citations when quoting a source, or cite multiple sources:

The country has undergone ‘significant change’ (2: p. 187) in recent decades, including in terms of its immigration policy (1, 3-5).

Here, the first citation is for page 187 of the second source in the reference list. The second citation is for sources 1, 3, 4 and 5 in the reference list.

Your style guide should specify how to present citations, but the most important thing is using a consistent style throughout your document.

Reference List and Bibliography

You also need to include all cited sources in a reference list at the end of your document. List entries here in the order you have cited them, along with full publication information. A book, for example, would be listed like this:

(2) Smith A. Canada: A Land of Change. Vancouver: SitDown Publications; 2014.

Here, we have the citation number, the author’s surname, their first initial, the title of the book and the publication information. The format varies slightly between versions of Vancouver, but it should always include these details.

You might also need a separate bibliography. This is for sources you’ve read but not cited in your work. The format here is the same, but you should list sources alphabetically by author surname. If you’re not sure whether to add a separate bibliography, check your style guide.

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