Wilkes University

Vancouver Referencing Guide: Capitalization, Punctuation, Pagination, URLs, and DOIs

A guide to the Vancouver referencing style commonly used in the biomedical sciences


Capitalize as follows:

  • authors’ names: initials for first (given) and middle names and last (family) names
  • book titles: only the first word and proper nouns
  • conference titles: all significant words are capitalized
  • journal titles: all significant words are capitalized
  • journal title abbreviations: the first letter of each word
  • journal article titles: only the first word and proper nouns
  • newspaper titles: all significant words
  • newspaper article titles: only the first word and proper nouns
  • non-print resource (such as audiovisuals) titles: only the first word and proper nouns
  • places of publication: city names and county names and, if necessary, abbreviations of states/countries according to accepted standards (e.g., PA not Pa)
  • program names: for those that have been trademarked or copyrighted, as they appear on screens or documentation of the program (e.g., Natural Standard, A.D.A.M., etc.)
  • publisher names: the proper words and other significant words such as company, university, sons, etc.
  • webpages: reproduce the title of a homepage as closely as possible to the wording on the screen, duplicating capitalization. This may mean all lower case letters, capital letters within words, or run-together words (e.g., netLibrary or medicinebydesign).



  • Begin location with "p." followed by a space.
  • Do not repeat page numbers unless they are followed by a letter. For example: 126-127 becomes p. 126-7, but p. 126A-127A is correct.
  • Include a letter (often S for Supplement or A for Appendix) when it precedes the page number. For example: p. S10-S8.
  • End location information with a period.
  • Newspaper citations only give the first page.


Although ithey may seem arbitrary and nitpicking to you, punctuation rules in reference citations are extremely important. The citation is a form of scholarly shorthand that allows academics
to communicate internationally using a common language

Follow the punctuation and spacing for specific types of references as illustrated in this LibGuide. Other general guidelines for punctuation are:

  • journal / newspaper title abbreviations: End the abbreviation with a period (not after each word in the abbreviation). Note that if the source is online, the period will follow the bracketed online designation that indicates this; e.g. Am J Cardiol [journal on the Internet].).
  • places of publication: When a qualifier is given for a city (i.e., state abbreviation or country name), that qualifier is enclosed in parentheses.
  • reference numbers: after commas and periods; before colons and semicolons
  • subtitles: Use a colon followed by a space to separate a title from a subtitle, unless another form of punctuation (e.g., a question mark or exclamation point) is already

DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers)

A DOI/doi (digital object identifier) is a persistent identifier provider by publishers so that the article or other object can always be found online.

If an article has a DOI, this should be provided after the page number details.

To use a DOI in a citation:

  • Begin with doi followed by a colon and a space
  • Enter the number supplied by the publisher

Neoptolemos JP, Stocken DD, Bassi C, et al. Adjuvant chemotherapy with fluorouracil plus folinic acid vs gemcitabine following pancreatic cancer resection: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2010 Sep 8;304(10):1073-81. doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.1275.


When providing a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for a resource that is available online, begin with the phrase “Available from” followed by a colon and a space.

Insert the entire URL; do not omit http://, www, or other beginning components.

If the URL you are citing runs into the next line, be sure to break the address after a colon “:” or a slash “/” (http://  is an exception—do not break here). Never break a URL at a
hyphen “-“.  Do not insert a hyphen into a URL.

End with a period only if the URL ends with a slash; otherwise end with no punctuation.