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WHSL Vancouver Citation Style Guide for Theses, Dissertations and Research Reports: Print Journal Citations

Replaces the section on citations (references) in the official Faculty of Health Sciences Style Guide for Theses, Dissertations and Research Reports

Components of a Print Journal Article Citation

Print journal article citations are more complex than print book citations. Generally however, the place of publication and the publisher's name is omitted in a journal citation. Journal titles are normally abbreviated; book titles are never abbreviated. All print journal article citations usually include: 

  •  Author/s name/s, in reverse order, ie. surname, then first name/s and initials of the journal article   
  • Publication date of the journal
  •  Title of the journal article
    •  Only the first word of the article title is capitalized 
    • Include  "The" or "A/n" if it is the first word of the article title
  • Journal title
    • Do not include the first word of the journal title if it is “The” eg. The Lancet is written as Lancet
    • Each word in the journal title is in capital letters, eg. British Medical Journal even if the title is abbreviated eg. BMJ
    • The journal title is written in italics
  • Journal volume (usually only the number is shown, and it is not written out as vol. or volume)
  • Journal issue (if known), usually shown in brackets (usually only the number is shown, not written out as issue number)
  • Pages of the journal article

Punctuation is extremely important. The journal citation is a form of scholarly shorthand that allows academics to communicate internationally using a common language.

Rule of Thumb: General Rules for Journal Citations

Rule of Thumb

  • Cite the version you used. Do not cite the print version if you have used the electronic (Internet) one.

  • Do not include a header, such as "news", "case report", or "clinical study", as part of the article title, unless the table of contents for the journal issue indicates that it is.

  • The source for journal title, volume, issue, and date information is, in order of preference: (1) the title page of the issue, (2) the issue cover, and (3) the masthead. Running headers or footers may not carry the official title of a journal and date and issue information may be missing from these locations.

Journal Titles and Abbreviations

Journal titles are always written in italics

  • Journal references omit information on place of publication and publisher, whereas book references carry these details

  • The words "volume" and "number" (or their abbreviations) are usually omitted when citing journal articles

  • Journal titles are abbreviated; book titles are not

Following are some important points concerning citing journal articles:

  • Cite the journal name that was used at the time of publication. For example, the British Medical Journal officially changed title to BMJ in 1988. Cite articles from 1987 and earlier as Br Med J, not BMJ

  • Cite the version you saw. For example, do not cite the print version if you have used the Internet one
  • Do not include a header, such as "news", "case report", or "clinical study", as part of the article title, unless the table of contents for the journal issue indicates that it is such

A full list of official journal title abbrviations can be found at ftp://nlmpubs.nlm.nih.gov/online/journals/ljiweb.pdf. Note: This is an extremely large file and takes quite a while to download. It is advisable to look up a list of titles you need at the same time. You can also find journal title abbreviation information at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nlmcatalog/journals. However, once again, this is unfortunately a time consuming and tedious search.

Rule of Thumb: Date of Publication

Rule of Thumb

The Wits Faculty of Health Sciences Style Guide places the date immediately after the name/s of the author/s in a journal article, eg. 

Petitti, D.B., Crooks, V.C., Buckwalter J.G., et al. 2005. Blood pressure levels before dementia. Arch Neurol., 62(1):112-6.

  • Omit the month from the date, eg. 2005 not Mar 2005
  • Somethimes the issue (in brackets) is not given as a number, eg. Fall, 2010 or September, 2010 instead of issue number 3 or 9. In this case the reference is as follows:
    • Rastan, S., Hough, T., Kierman, A., et al. 2004.Towards a mutant map of the mouse--new models of neurological, behavioural, deafness, bone, renal and blood disorders. Genetica,122(Sept):47-9.
    • Rastan, S., Hough, T., Kierman, A., et al. 2004.Towards a mutant map of the mouse--new models of neurological, behavioural, deafness, bone, renal and blood disorders. Genetica,122(Fall):47-9.

Elements of a Print Journal Citation

Remember to cite all authors in the Reference List, or to cite only the first three authors, et al. Remember also to cite the version you used (ie. this is the print version, not the e-version).

Rule of Thumb: Abbreviations in Journal Citations

Rule of Thumb

Traditionally the rules for formatting references to journal articles permit greater abbreviation compared to books:

  • Journal references omit information on place of publication and publisher, whereas book references carry these details.

  • The words "volume" and "number" (or their abbreviations) are usually omitted when citing journal articles, but are included when citing books.

  • Journal titles are abbreviated; book titles are not.

    See this site for offical journal abbreviations. 

Number of Authors for Print Journal Citations

A journal article is cited under the name/s of the author/s in the text. If there are more than two authors in the text, list the first two authors, followed by et al in italics in the text.

In the Reference List, all authors may be cited or you may choose to cite only the first three authors, eg.

Jun, B.C., Song, S.W., Park, C.S., Lee, D.H., Cho, K.J. & Cho, J.H. 2005. The analysis of maxillary sinus aeration according to aging process: volume assessment by 3-dimensional reconstruction by high-resolutional CT scanning. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg.,132(3):429-34.

OR

Jun, B.C., Song, S.W., Park, C.S., et al. 2005. The analysis of maxillary sinus aeration according to aging process: volume assessment by 3-dimensional reconstruction by high-resolutional CT scanning. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg.,132(3):429-34.

Both styles of citation are correct in the Reference List: first three authors or all authors. Whichever style you choose, remember to be consistent throughout.

You may also choose to cite the full first name of the author, or only the author's initials. Again both are correct, but remember to be consistent. Remeber also the Rule of Thumb regarding Brevity.

Remember to use a maximum of the first two intials for authors' first names, eg. Gyte, G.M. not Gyte, G.M.L.

Rule of Thumb: Page Numbers

Rule of Thumb

In the List of References, journal page numbers follow a colon (:) and are not indicated by p. or pp. eg:

Meneton, P., Jeunemaitre, X., de Wardener, H.E., et al. 2005. Links between dietary salt intake, renal salt handling, blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases. Physiol Rev., 85(2):679-715.