Bibliography Style Latex Vancouver

The Vancouver Style is the preferred referencing style for most Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences courses. It is a numerical system.

This UWA guide to Vancouver is based on  Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors & publishersandAMA manual of style: a guide for authors and editors

The in-text citation:
A superscript number is inserted in your text at the point where you refer to (cite) your source of information. A consecutive number is allocated to each source as it is referred to for the first time. See the example text. This number becomes the unique identifier of that source and is reused each time that particular reference is cited in the text.

Use superscript numerals outside periods and commas, inside colons and semicolons. When more than 2 references are cited at a given place in the manuscript, use hyphens to join the first and last numbers of a closed series; use commas without space to separate other parts of a multiple citation.

The reference list:
References are listed numerically at the end of the body of work. Agreed abbreviations for journal titles  must be used and can be searched for from the National Library of Medicine's (US) PubMed website within their NLM catalog: Journals referenced in the NCBI database. 

If using the Endnote Referencing software you can install the Medicine Journal Terms List, which will includes over 16,000 Journal abbreviations. 


LaTeX is a powerful document typesetting system that I recommend for any large technical or academic work. LaTeX does have a significant learning curve, and works in a very different way to the modern WYSIWYG word processor, but the investment in learning this excellent system will pay dividends again and again. There are numerous front-ends that make learning the system even easier.

I store my entire research bibliography in bibtex format, a text-based open format, readable by many different bibliography management programs. I currently use Jabref, but there are many others.

A decent reference manager is essential when creating academic works. I would hesitate to do manual reference management for even the smallest projects. The benefits are:

  • All references can be stored in one place
  • References can be automatically downloaded from literature databases (e.g., Pubmed) minimising transcription errors.
  • Many packages allow one to store other information and files along with a reference, such as the full-text PDF or a link to the full-text article.
  • Dynamic reformatting of bibliography citation styles (e.g., switch to Harvard style), and bibliography style (depending on journal requirements – e.g., maximum three authors, year, journal name, volume, page numbers). Do not underestimate the workload involved in doing this manually!

LaTeX, BibTeX, Natbib and custom bibliography styles

I have 664 article references held in my central research bibliography database and use Jabref to manage them. I have manually typed in only three or four, as it is usually possible to download citations straight from Pubmed. I reference these articles from a number of different LaTeX documents including my thesis and several ancilliary papers being prepared for publication. I use the natbib package to provide more sophisticated control over citation formatting.

To understand how different this is to using Microsoft Word, I should show an example of simple LaTeX formatting along with a citation:

The construct tells LaTeX to insert a citation. Depending on the citation style in use at the time, it may insert [1], (1), /1/, 1, (Smith et al. 1975). Citation styles include numeric, author-year and authors, with a choice of bracket types.

You can do more complex things if you choose the right options:

can create a citation such as [1, 3-5].

If you choose to not use natbib, then there are many more built-in bibliographic style files, and you may find one “off the shelf”. Some more technically inclined journals may even provide style files, although I haven’t see this in the medical literature!

My preference is to use natbib and a custom bibliography style file. In this way, I get fine control over both citation and bibliography style formats, and both can be changed very easily, with minimal or no changes to my LaTeX document.

Generating custom bibliography styles
To generate custom bibliography styles compatible with natbib, also read makebst package documentation. This allows one to create arbitrary bibliography styles, and should support any style requested by the most demanding of medical journals! They are many built-in bibliography styles with LaTeX, but medical journals tend to have different requirements, and I normally end up creating a style file to suit the journal. I suspect this isn’t the case in the computing or scientific communities, but medical and the life-sciences uses different defaults and different standards to most of the included style files.

For this run-through, I’m going to create a style file that uses numeric citations, in order of citation( not alphabetical order), with a list of authors (surname then initials), then the article title (in italics), then journal name, the year, then volume number, optionally the issue number in brackets, and finally the page number.

  1. Getting started
    1. Run makebst.makebst is a tex program that generates style files. To run it, use

      You will need to use the correct path to the file itself, which will depend on your operating system and TeX installation.
    2. Type ‘Y’ to get more information
    3. Accept the default master file (merlin.mbs)
    4. Output file – name it something memorable – I type
    5. Type a comment – I type
    6. Say Y to verbose comments
    7. Name of language definition file – agree with default
    8. Include files for journal names? – no
    9. Internal language support – agree with default
  2. Choosing style
    1. Choose numeric mode
    2. Choose normal LaTeX output
    3. Language field? no
    4. Annotations? no
    5. Ordering of references? Citation order – option c
    6. Order on “von” part? Sort on von part – although N/A for us
    7. Author names? Surname plus pure initials (option x)
    8. Editor names? Reversed as in authors’ – option r
    9. Position of “Junior” – comes last
    10. Author name punctuation – separate by commas
    11. Adjacent references with repeated names – always present
    12. Number of authors – all authors
    13. Typeface for authors – normal font
    14. Date position – date part of journal spec – option j
    15. Date format – plain month and year – default option
    16. Suppress month – yes – option x
    17. Date punctuation – semi-colon – option s
    18. Blank after date – no space – option x
    19. Date font – normal format
    20. Title font – italic
    21. Title capitalisation – title style (I ensure all bibtex entries are correctly capitalised manually by using {})
    22. Article title present – Yes
    23. Journal names – dotless names – option x
    24. Journal name font – plain
    25. Thesis title – like books
    26. Tech report – like article
    27. Tech report num – plain
    28. Journal volume font – plain
    29. Journal volume – vol(num) – default
    30. Volume punctuation – volume with colon – default
    31. Year in journal specification – as given by date specification
    32. Page numbers – start and stop numbers
    33. Large page numbers – no separators
    34. Word “page” in articles – no – numbers only – default
    35. Position of pages – default
    36. Word volume – number only -default
    37. Allow number without series – default
    38. Position of number and series – default
    39. Volume and series for books – option s
    40. Position of volume and series – default
    41. Journal name punctuation – space – option x
    42. Book title italic? Yes
    43. Pages in books plain – default
    44. Total pages printed – no
    45. Publisher,Address – default
    46. Publisher in paratheses – default no
    47. Publisher position – default
    48. ISBN – no
    49. ISSN – no
    50. DOI – no
    51. Editor after names – default
    52. Editor in collections – default
    53. Punctuation between blocks – default
    54. Punctuation after authors – default
    55. Punctuation after “in” – default
    56. “In” with journal names – default – no
    57. Final punctuation – period at end
    58. Abbreviate “pages” – omit – option x
    59. Abbreviate “editors” – yes – option a
    60. Other abbreviations – yes
    61. Abbreviation for edition – a
    62. Months with dots – option x (although not applicable as hidden)
    63. Editions as in database – default
    64. Stored journal names – default (not applicable)
    65. Ampersand – use word and – default
    66. Comma before “and” – no comma
    67. No “and” in reference list – No – option x
    68. Font of “et al” – plain
    69. RevTeX data fields – none (default)
    70. E-print data field – none (default)
    71. URL – none
    72. Reference component – none
    73. Emphasis – default
    74. Compatibility with plain TeX – default

After all that (most of the options we set to their default), we get:

Choose YES, and your STY file is created!

You will notice that many of the options are actually not applicable. For example, you can choose not to have “AND” placed into the author list if there are only two authors, but it still asks you about using an ampersand or plain text. In these situations, it is normally possible to just select the default.

Copy it into your TeX distribution tree. . You need to run texhash to update TeX’s directory cache so BibTeX can find your new file.

And finally change the bibliography style setting in your LaTeX document:

Further reading: Wikibooks’ LaTeX bibliography management, Making style files with custom bib.


Categories: 1

0 Replies to “Bibliography Style Latex Vancouver”

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrĂ  pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *