Picture of a book

Referencing: Vancouver (Part 3)

This is the third and final part of the referencing psots. In part 1 I discussed what referencing is and why it is needed, then in part 2 I introduced one way of referencing, the Harvard method. In this part I introduce the second referencing method, Vancouver.

Vancouver referencing tends to be used for technical documentation, but can be used anywhere.  Firstly, lets say you have read the book “Drupal 6 JavaScript and jQuery“, but you have not quoted from it nor do you want to reference it. At the end of your report (or document, etc.) you would add a section called “Further Reading” where it would be placed. If you are going to reference it, then you place it in a section at the end of your document called “References”. Both have exactly the same format. That is:

[ref. number] Surname, Initial. Title NOT in italics. Place of publication: publisher; year of publication

For the publication on page 1, we would write:

[1] Butcher, M., Drupal 6 JavaScript and jQuery, Birmingham: Packt Publishing; 2009

A webpage is done slightly differently.  Many webpages will not show an author so unlike Harvard, we just ignore this. 

NOTE: If there is an author, their name goes at the start as in the example above. 

As an example, we will use a blog entry over on devzen.co.uk. This is written in our references as:

[2] DevZen [online]. 2009 [cited 22 Aug 10 ]; Available from: URL: http://devzen.co.uk/blog/2009/choosing-right-cms, accessed 6/8/10

In your references section, the items referenced are placed in the order you reference them in the text.  Lets say you have read the text on the website and just interpreted that information in your own mind (i.e. you have put an explanation down in your own words using the knowledge gained from the text), then you note that by citing that text. 

NOTE: This is done with the “SQUARE BRACKETS” [ ] .  

This could be done in several ways in your text:

Example of method 1

Choosing a CMS is difficult, however for a basic blog set-up, WordPress is one of the best in terms of performance and ease of use [2].

Example of method 2

DevZen [2] suggest that WordPress is a better choice for a blog than Drupal, however, Drupal is a better all round CMS system.

Note there are other methods and none of these have copied any of the original text.

Lets say that you want to quote the author. Quotes are a word for word copy of the original text. These should be short and relavant. Using the Drupal book noted above, uou do this using the same as before, but also adding the page number and the quote in italics (note only the italic part is copied):

We often use JavaScript to enhance our websites, but what is JavaScript? Butcher [1, p.30] describes JavaScript by stating “it is used to provide additional functionality to a web page, which is usually delivered to a web browser as an HTML document.


Although you may have quotes, you still need to show you understand the topic. In my opinion quotes should be few and far between. If I see a document where there are several quotes on the same page, then to me that shows little understanding and is only marginally different from plagarism.

Also note that there are many variations on the Harvard method. Next time we will look at the Vancouver method.

Our references section

Our references section thus looks like this:

[1] Lawson, L. BTEC National IT Practitioners ICT Systems Support. Oxford: Heinemann; 2003

[2] Network Address Translation [online]. 2005 [cited 19 Dec 05 ]; Available from: URL: http://www.enterasys.com/ products/whitepapers/ssr/network-trans/, accessed 19/12/05