Vancouver - frequently asked questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions from those using the Vancouver referencing system. If your question is not listed and you can't find the answer elsewhere on this site please contact the Academic Skills Centre (if you are a taught student) or the Research Skills team (if you are a researcher). 

What is the difference between a reference list and a bibliography?

A reference list is the detailed list of references that are cited in your work. Therefore, it includes the full bibliographical information on sources, so that the reader can identify and then locate the source. A bibliography is a detailed list of references but also includes background readings or other material that you may have read but not actually cited.

Different courses may require just a reference list, just a bibliography, or even both. It is better to check with your tutor first. Both the reference list and the bibliography are located at the end of the work. When using the Vancouver style of referencing, both the bibliography and the reference list are arranged in the order in which they are referenced in the text, not alphabetical order.

What do I do if the publication has no date?

You simply write ‘no date’ in brackets. For example - (no date)

Can I mix referencing styles?

No, you should never mix referencing styles. Always be consistent.

When should I omit page numbers?

If you are summarising what an author has argued in a book or article, you do not need to give page numbers.

Does the full-stop go before or after in-text citations?

  • Numbers should be in brackets and placed after punctuation marks such as full stops or commas, but before colons and semi-colons

Can I cite lots of sources in the same sentence?

Yes, but only cite more than one source in the same sentence if they make similar points or use similar methods or evidence. When citing two or more sources at once, write a number for each separated by a comma e.g. (1,2). When citing more than two sources which are numbered consecutively, use a hyphen instead of a comma e.g. (3-5).

Are in-text citations included in my word count?

Yes, they are counted in your word count. However, your reference list and bibliography are not counted in your word count.

What are DOIs?

DOIs are digital object identifiers - a character string used to identify a digital object (such as an article in an e-journal)

What sources can I legally use?

At present copyright law allows only small extracts of items to be copied legally provided that they are referenced correctly. Only copy what is completely necessary, and only when the use falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • personal private study;
  • non-commercial research;
  • criticism and review;
  • illustration for instruction;
  • parody pastiche or caricature;
  • or quotation

Students’ use will fall under personal private study, criticism and review, illustration, and/or quotation


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