RehabINK Style Guide – Version 1.0

The style used by RehabINK draws upon “Vancouver Style.” This is a style that provides direction only on referencing; all other aspects of style are at the discretion of the publication.

Vancouver Style is governed by the US National Library of Medicine (NLM), which publishes Citing Medicine in order to provide a style overview and a detailed description of the referencing format of specific publication types. Citing Medicine is directive in some respects, offers options in others, and is silent on others yet. Different institutions have published style guides to fill in the gaps where the NLM has not specified details; these alternative style guides are identified when used as a reference for this document.

The hallmark feature of Vancouver Style is its “citation-sequence” system of referencing, where each reference is indicated by a number in brackets according to the order of appearance in the text.

The two features of Vancouver Style are:

  1. The in-text references (to briefly identify a source in the text), and
  2. the reference list (to provide details of the sources identified in the text).

The core functional elements of Vancouver Style are:

  1. that there is a perfect match between in-text references and the reference list (i.e., every source that is cited in the text is listed in the references; the only references listed are the sources that are cited in the text), and
  2. that a given source is uniquely identified by one number (i.e., if a source is cited multiple times, it will only be identified according to the number assigned for its first citation).

The in-text references are identified by a number surrounded by round brackets, like the mock example that follows this sentence. (1) The Vancouver Community College (2) states that in-text references should appear immediately after an author’s name, if used in the text. Alternatively, the in-text reference should appear immediately after the idea being referenced, (3) and not categorically placed at the end of a sentence. When appropriately placed at the end of a clause or sentence, the in-text citation should appear before colons and semi-colons (4); but after commas and periods. (5)

The reference list appears at the end of the document, and is identified according to the term preferred by the journal. Each source is preceded by its number, but there is no specification of the format (i.e., the punctuation following the numbers or the margins). Meanwhile, the referencing format of publication types is specified in great detail according to the information that must (or can) be included, and the order in which this must be presented.

Vancouver Style has some optional elements that RehabINK can choose to apply, or for which the publication can remain agnostic. These include:

  • Abbreviated journal titles in references is the norm, but not a necessity. These titles are officially chronicled by the NLM, but also derived according to a system of abbreviations that allow an individual to create abbreviated titles.
  • Number of authors listed in references. The author list was originally capped at six (followed by et al.), but the NLM has expanded its guideline to include all authors. That said, journals are given the option to limit author number as they choose fit.
  • Page number references as part of the in-text references. Whereas some journals simply do not allow for this possibility, others request that this be added to the citations in parentheses (see this guide, page 2, for an example).
  • Material sourced on the internet is supposedly always supposed to be identified as such; including any journal article that the author did not see in print form. Judging from the relative absence of this appearing in reference lists, and also the absence of print journals from just about anywhere, it seems unlikely that this guide is effectively being followed.
  • Including digital identifiers for electronic sources, such as hyperlinks and digital object identifiers is a decision seemingly made at the discretion of the journal.

As mentioned above, Vancouver Style uses very detailed formats for the citations as presented in the reference list. This causes angst (or ambivalence) among authors to use the correct format. If the publication type is clearly identified, then referencing should be straightforward according to the specific descriptions offered in Citing Medicine. Listed here are the three most common generic references, as described using an alternative style guide.


Author Surname Initials. Title: subtitle. Edition (if not the first). Place of publication: Publisher; Year.

Articles in Journals

Author Surname Initials. Title of article. Title of journal, abbreviated. Date of Publication:Volume Number(Issue Number): Page Numbers.

In addition to following the citation formats as dictated by Vancouver Style, RehabINK should strive for standardization in its reference lists. The ultimate format will depend upon the layout of the style used in articles more generally (e.g., html vs pdf; one column format vs two columns), but should consider some of the following issues:

  • Title (“References,” “Reference List,” or “Bibliography”)
  • Punctuation (after the numbers)
  • Margins and indentation
  • Presence of electronic links

Below is an example of html and pdf formats of reference lists for Disability and Rehabilitation, which uses a slight adaptation of Vancouver Style [example source: Hansen T, Elholm Madsen E, Sørensen A. The effect of rater training on scoring performance and scale-specific expertise amongst occupational therapists participating in a multicentre study: a single-group pre–post-test study. Disabil Rehabil. 2016:38(12):1216-26.].


  1. Kobak KA. Inaccuracy in clinical trials: effects and methods to control inaccuracy. Curr Alzheimer Res 2010;7:637–41.[CrossRef][PubMed][Web of Science ®]
  2. Kobak KA, Engelhardt N, Williams JB, Lipsitz JD. Rater training in multicenter clinical trials: issues and recommendations. J Clin Psychopharmacol 2004;24:113–17. [CrossRef][PubMed][Web of Science ®]
  3. Wolfe EW. Methods for monitoring rating quality: Current practices and suggested changes (white paper). Austin (TX): Pearson. Available from:[last accessed 8 Dec 2014].
  4. Myford CM, Wolfe EW. Detecting and measuring rater effects using many facet Rasch measurement: part I. J Appl Meas2003;4:386–422. [PubMed]
  5. Yeates P, O’Neill P, Mann K, Eva KW. Seeing the same thing differently. Mechanisms that contribute to assessor differences in directly-observed performance assessments. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract 2013;18:325–41. [CrossRef][PubMed][Web of Science ®]
  6. MacKenzie DE, Westwood DA. Observation patterns of dynamic occupational performance. Can J Occup Ther 2013;80:92–100. [CrossRef][PubMed][Web of Science ®]
  7. Laver Fawcett A. Principles of assessment and outcome measurement for occupational therapists and physiotherapists: theory, skills and application. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.; 2007.