Wilkes University

Vancouver Referencing Guide: Journal Articles

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

Print Journal Articles

Journal usually refers to a particular type of academic or professional periodical. The following rules and examples can also be used for magazines, trade journals and other types of periodicals.

General Rules for Journal Articles:

  • Volume, issue and page numbers are given but are not labeled.
  • Only the authors’ initials are given, regardless of the presentation on the article.
  • Titles of journals should be abbreviated as they appear in the Journals in NCBI Databases (see Journal Titles Abbreviations tab). Running headers or footers on article pages may not (often do not) carry the official abbreviation; do not assume what is printed is what you should use.
  • Do not include a publication type, such as “news,” “case report,” or “clinical study,” unless it is part of the title on the article.
  • Volume numbers are given in Arabic numbers only; e.g., convert LX to 60. 
  • Issue numbers are inserted in parentheses immediately after the volume number.  They are given in Arabic numbers only.  A supplement/part/special number is indicated by “Suppl,” “Pt,” or “Spec No.”  If a number or letter is present, it is included; e.g., “Suppl A.”  Arabic numbers only are used, as “Pt 2.”
  • Issue numbers may be omitted if the journal uses continuous pagination throughout a volume.
  • Months are abbreviated by the first 3 digits; seasons are not abbreviated; multiple months or seasons are separated by a dash, as “Jan-Feb” or “Fall-Winter.” 

Standard format for print journal article

Author(s) of article. Title of article. Abbreviated Title of Journal. Date of publication;vol(issue):page number(s).


Standard print scholarly journal article (continuous pagination)
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl JMed. 2002;347:284-7.

Journal article: No author
21st century heart solution may have a sting in the tail. BMJ. 2002;325(7537):184.

Journal article: Organization as author
Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Hypertension, insulin, and proinsulin in participants with impaired glucose tolerance. Hypertension. 2002;40(5):679-86.

Article from print journal paginated by issue (i.e., each issue begins with page “1.”)
Smith DL. The effect of patient noncompliance on health care costs. Med Interface. 1993;6(4):74-6,

Volume with supplement
Geraud G, Spierings EL, Keywood C. Tolerability and safety of frovatriptan with short- and long-term use for treatment of migraine and in comparison with sumatriptan. Headache. 2002;42 Suppl 2:S93-9.

Issue with supplement
Glauser TA. Integrating clinical trial data into clinical practice. Neurology. 2002;58(12 Suppl 7):S6-12.

Journal article: Issue with no volume
Banit DM, Kaufer H, Hartford JM. Intraoperative frozen section analysis in revision total joint arthroplasty. Clin Orthop. 2002;(401):230-8.

Issue with part
Ahrar K, Madoff DC, Gupta S, et al.  Development of a large animal  model for lung tumors. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2002;13(9 Pt 1):923-8.

DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers)

Increasingly publishers are using DOIs (digital object identifiers) to uniquely and permanently pinpoint the location of individual articles. You should always try to use a DOI whenever possible.

Since a doi will never change, if you use one, you do not have to include the URL nor the date of access/date cited when writing the citation for that article. You do, however, need to cite the entire reference plus the DOI.

Standard format for online journal article with a DOI

Author(s). Title of article. Abbreviated Title of Journal [journal on the Internet]. Date of publication. Vol(issue):page number(s). doi:  

Example of an e-journal citation with a DOI:
Camiller M, Parkman HP, Shafi MA, et al. Clinical guideline: management of gastroparesis.Am J Gastroenterol. Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 January;108(1):18–38. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2012.373

Online Journal Articles

Many online journals are identical to their print versions; however, many others do not carry the same exact content. One online journal may be static, fixed in time and unchanged since publication OR it may be updated or otherwise revised over time. For example, some online journal producers permit comments or expert opinion from readers to be incorporated into the text. Errors may be corrected or hypertext links may be updated without notice. In addition, more and more journals are being written directly for the Internet to enable hyperlinking, to include complex graphics, and to run integrated multimedia such as video or sound files.

Since an Internet version may not be the equivalent of the print journal, it is important to cite the version you have actually viewed. If you are citing an article from an online database, that, too, should be noted.

Another distinction (especially among Internet journals with no print counterpart) is volume and issue information. Some publishers omit volume and issue numbers, substituting an article numbering scheme or using the date the item was placed on the web as an identifier. Many publishers also employ an article number scheme in place of traditional pagination.

Cite an Internet journal article as you would a print article, but with these major exceptions:

  • Use the phrase "journal on the Internet" in square brackets as the Type of Medium after the journal title.
  • Include any date of update/revision and a date of citation in square brackets following the date of publication. Use the dates for the individual journal article being cited, not the dates of the journal issue as a whole unless no dates can be found for the individual item.
  • When the location (pagination) of the article is not provided, as often occurs, calculate the length of the article using the best means possible, e.g., in terms of print pages, screens, paragraphs, or bytes. If an article is not linear, and has many hyperlinks, it will be impossible to determine the length.
  • Provide the URL or other electronic address of the article. If the article was accesses through a database, include the name of the database and its main entrance URL in the Availability statement.

Standard format for online journal article

Author(s) of article. Title of article. Abbreviated Title of Journal [journal on the Internet]. Date of publication [Date of update/revision; date of citation]; vol(issue):page number(s)/extent. Available from:



Journal article online (.html from publisher’s Web site, with extent of article expressed in screens)
Terrie YC. Treatment and management of dermatitis. Pharm Times [journal on the Internet]. 2013 Apr 18 [cited 2013 Aug 23];(about 5 screens]. Available from: http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2013/April2013/Treatment-and-Management-of-Dermatitis

Journal article online with standard page numbers (.pdf from publisher’s Web site)
Sengupta D, Chattopadhyay MK. Metabolism in bacteria at low termperature: a recent report. J Biosci [journal on the Internet]. 2013 Jun [cited 2013 Aug 23];38(2):409-12. Available from: http://www.ias.ac.in/jbiosci/jun2013/409.pdf

Journal article from an online journal database/aggregator
Jones RW, McCrone P, Guilhaume C.  Cost effectiveness of memantine in Alzheimer’s disease.  Drugs Aging [serial on the Internet]. 2004 [cited 2005 Aug 23];21(9):607-20. 

Some Internet journal publishers use an article numbering scheme rather than pagination, or, in some cases, in place of volume, issue, and pagination.  This may be as simple as the letter "e" for electronic before the number or the word “Article” before the number.  Some of the PDFs of these articles have numbered pages, but the numbers are not part of the citation.

Articles with pagination/extent expressed as an article number, e-locator, etc.

Bolesta S, Trombetta DP, Longyhore DS. Pharmacist instruction of physical assessment for pharmacy students. Am J Pharm Educ [journal on the Internet]. 2011 Mar 10 [cited 2013 Aug 23];75(2):Article 29. Available from: http://www.ajpe.org/doi/pdf/10.5688/ajpe75229

Cunningham PJ, May JH. Medicaid patients increasingly concentrated among physicians. Tracking Reports [journal on the Internet]. 2006 Aug [cited 2007 Mar 20]:Report 16 [5 p.]. Available from: http://www.hschange.com/CONTENT/866/866.pdf.

Aoki TT, Grecu EO, Arcangeli MA, et al. Effect of intensive insulin therapy on abnormal circadian blood pressure pattern in patients with type I diabetes mellitus. Online J Curr Clin Trials [journal on the Internet]. 1995 Dec 15 [cited 2007 Jan 4]:Doc No 199 [about 10 screens]. Available from: http://www.oclc.org/firstsearch/

Ahmad F, Hogg-Johnson S, Skinner HA. Assessing patient attitudes to computerized screening in primary care: psychometric properties of the computerized lifestyle assessment scale. J Med Internet Res [journal on the Internet]. 2008 Apr 18 [cited 2008 Nov 17];10(2):e11 [about 14 p.]. Available from: http://www.jmir.org/2008/2/e11/

Law SK, Li T. Acupuncture for glaucoma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [journal on the Internet]. 2013 May 31 [cited 2013 Aug 23];5:CD006030. Available from: EBSCOHost Research Databases/Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews  http://www.wilkes.edu/library/articles.asp 

Epub Ahead of Print

An “Epub ahead of print” signifies that the electronic version of an article has been published online (usually at a journal’s website), but that the print version of the article has not yet been published. Provide as much information as is available and include the phrase “Epub ahead of print” at the end of the citation.

Often these published ahead of print articles are not the final version, so it is important to keep following up on them as they move through the publication processes, and update them as you are able. If possible, refer to the final versions of your sources. After the article has appears in an issue, use the normal citation format, removing the “ahead of print” wording. However, only reference the version of the article you actually read.

Standard format

Author(s) of article. Title of article. Abbreviated Title of journal [journal on the Internet]. Date of publication [date cited]. Available from:   [Epub ahead of print]

If you have a DOI, use that instead of the “available from” phrase.


McKeage K. Tobramycin inhalation powder: a review of its use in the treatment of chronic pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in patients with cystic fibrosis. Drugs [journal on the Internet]. 2013 Nov 6 [cited 2013 Nov 7]. Available from: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40265-013-0141-0  [Epub ahead of print]

Cals JW, Kotz D. Effective writing and publishing scientific papers, part X: choice of journal. J Clin Epidemiol [journal on the Internet]. 2013 Oct 31 [cited 2013 Nov 7].
doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2013.09.014. [Epub ahead of print]