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Vancouver Referencing Style:  In-text citations

UON Library guide to Vancouver Style for UON students

In-text citations: general rules

Click the tabs above for information on citing quotations and secondary sources


General rules:

  • Vancouver style uses citation numbers within the text which refer to the corresponding numbered entries in the reference list.
  • In-text citations are numbered consecutively in the order in which they appear in the text.
  • The citation numbers can either appear in brackets, e.g., (2) or [2], or in superscript, e.g.,2. However be consistent in the style used.
  • A citation number is placed at the point within the sentence where information from another source is paraphrased, quoted or referred to.
  • The citation numbers should generally be placed outside of full-stops and commas, and inside of colons and semicolons, unless required otherwise by your lecturers or the journal publishers. 

  • A citation number can be placed next to the author name as in a narrative citation, e.g., According to Wiley4 the five Rs of using OER are Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute.

  • For repeated citations: the citation number originally assigned to a reference is re-used if that reference is cited again later in the text.
  • If citing multiple references in the one place:
    • consecutive citation numbers are entered as a range, separated by a hyphen, e.g., 5-7
    • non-consecutive citation numbers are each separated by a comma, e.g., 2,5,7
  • Page numbers are rarely included within citation numbers. However, if including a quotation add the pages if available to the citation number, e.g., (5 p196) or 5(p196)
  • The placement and format of in-text citations may vary according to the rules of a particular journal or your lecturer. Always double-check before applying these guidelines.

Citing direct quotations


If you include a direct quote, that is word-for-word, from a source, the in-text citation should include the page numbers where the quotation appears, unless the source is not paginated. Direct quotations must be accurate and follow the wording, spelling, and punctuation of the original source.

See the general rules for in-text citations for more details.


  • For short quotations 4 lines and under, enclose the quotation within quotation marks and incorporate into the text, e.g.,

…there is overwhelming evidence even when the possibility of bias is assessed, there is no guarantee that reviewers have assessed or interpreted it appropriately.18(p335)

  • Long quotations over 4 lines should be indented in a separate block to the text. Quotation marks are not required, e.g.

Over recent decades increasing emphasis has been placed on ensuring healthcare decisions are based on the best evidence:

Interest in the role of qualitative research in evidence-based health care is growing. However, the methods currently used to identify quantitative research do not translate easily to qualitative research. These difficulties relate to the descriptive nature of the titles used in some qualitative studies, the variable information provided in abstracts, and the differences in the indexing of these studies across databases.15(p290)

  • If the source is an online publication without page numbers, you can omit the page cited as a direct quote can be easily located by a full text search. 

In-text citations for secondary sources


Please note you should always use the original work wherever possible. Use the secondary sources only when it is impossible to obtain the original publication, e.g. it may be published in another language, or out of print.


Sources cited within another source are known as 'secondary sources'. In-text references to secondary sources must name the original source, as well as provide a citation to the secondary source.

For example, Grieve and Gear’s work from 1966 is being quoted in Kirtley’s 2006 book on page 23. If you could not access the original Grieve and Gear’s work from 1966, you were permitted to reference it as a secondary source, e.g.,

… Grieve and Gear's pattern, as quoted in Kirtley,28(p23)  has been used in this study.

In the reference list,  list the work you have actually consulted, i.e. Kirtley’s 2006 book, not Grieve and Gear’s work from 1966.

By following this pattern you are crediting the original author while being able to reference the source you are actually using.

For more information see the page on Secondary sources.

Example of Vancouver Referencing


The following is an example of in-text citations and reference list formatted in Vancouver referencing style. The citation number can either appear within brackets, e.g., (2) or [2] or superscripted, e.g., 2. See the examples below for details.


The example text below is reproduced from the following journal article: 

Bryant J, Bonevski B, Paul C, McElduff P, Attia J. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of behavioural smoking cessation interventions in selected disadvantaged groups. Addiction. 2011;106(9):1568-85. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03467.x.


Example In-text Citations and Reference List in Vancouver Style

       Text A: in-text citations in brackets

Compared with recent estimates of population smoking prevalence of around 20% in most developed countries [1,2], markedly higher smoking rates have been reported for disadvantaged groups. For example, rates of 26–30% have been found among individuals with low income [2,3], rates of 32–50% have been found for indigenous groups [3,4], rates of 69–70% have been found for homeless individuals [5,6], rates of 35–90% have been found for individuals with a mental illness [7–9] and rates of 72–79% have been found among prisoner populations [10–12].


       Text B: in-text citations in superscripts

Compared with recent estimates of population smoking prevalence of around 20% in most developed countries,1,2 markedly higher smoking rates have been reported for disadvantaged groups. For example, rates of 26–30% have been found among individuals with low income,2,3 rates of 32–50% have been found for indigenous groups,3,4 rates of 69–70% have been found for homeless individuals,5,6 rates of 35–90% have been found for individuals with a mental illness,7–9 and rates of 72–79% have been found among prisoner populations.10–12




1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette smoking among adults—United States 2007. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2008;57(45):1221-6.

2.  Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: Detailed Findings. Drug statistics series no. 22. Cat no. PHE 107. Canberra: AIHW; 2008.

3.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette smoking among adults—United States. JAMA. 2009; 301(4):373-5. doi:10.1001/jama.301.4.373.

4.  Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2004–2005 [Internet]. Canberra: ABS:2006 [cited 2010 November 11]. Available at:

5.  Connor SE, Cook RL, Herbert MI, Neal SM, Williams JT. Smoking cessation in a homeless population: there is a will, but is there a way? J Gen Intern Med. 2002;17(5):369-72. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.2002.10630.x.

6.  Kermode M, Crofts N, Miller P, Speed B, Streeton J. Health indicators and risks among people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne, 1995–1996. Aust NZ J Public Health. 1998; 22(4):464-70. doi:10.1111/j.1467-842x.1998.tb01415.x.

7.  Lasser K, Boyd JW, Woolhandler S, Himmelstein DU, McCormick D, Bor D. Smoking and mental illness: a population-based prevalence study. JAMA. 2000;284(20):2606-10. doi:10.1001/jama.284.20.2606.

8.  Moeller-Saxone K. Cigarette smoking and interest in quitting among consumers at a Psychiatric Disability Rehabilitation and Support Service in Victoria. Aust NZ J Public Health. 2008;32(5):479-81. doi:10.1111/j.1753-6405.2008.00283.x.

9.  Reichler H, Baker A, Lewin T, Carr V. Smoking among in-patients with drug-related problems in an Australian psychiatric hospital. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2001;20(2):231-7. doi:10.1080/09595230120058623.

10.  Awofeso N, Testaz R, Wyper S, Morris S. Smoking prevalence in New South Wales correctional facilities, 2000. Tob Control. 2001;10(1):84-5. doi:10.1136/tc.10.1.84a.

11.  Belcher JM, Butler T, Richmond RL, Wodak AD, Wilhelm K. Smoking and its correlates in an Australian prisoner population. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2006;25(4):343-8. doi:10.1080/09595230600741198.

12.  Cropsey K, Eldridge GD, Ladner T. Smoking among female prisoners: an ignored public health epidemic. Addict Behav. 2004; 29(2):425-31. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2003.08.014.


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