Citation formats for scholarly writing can take many forms, like author-date, author-page, footnotes, numeric, etc. This time, we decided to shine a light on the most frequently used citation formats with superscript numbers. We compiled a list of the main numeric citation styles using superscript numbers to help you get started with your paper. Each style includes an explanation of its system, just like reference examples.
The American Medical Association is a numeric citation style used in many journals. This style indicates in-text references with superscript numbers, which are then listed in full at the end of a paper.
Check out these AMA style resources
AMA style examples
An in-text citation in AMA style:
The rising hospitalizations and deaths across New York City boroughs ¹.
A reference list entry in AMA style:
1. Wadhera RK, Wadhera P, Gaba P, et al. Variation in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths across New York City boroughs. JAMA. 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.7197
The Vancouver style is a numeric citation system used in biomedical, health and other science publications. This style consists of in-text citations indicated with either superscript or bracketed numbers. The same number is used throughout the paper to refer to the same source and given in full in a reference list at the end of the paper. This list is ordered sequentially, not alphabetically.
Check out these Vancouver style resources
Vancouver style examples
An in-text citation in Vancouver style:
A similar study was carried out in 2015¹.
A reference list entry in Vancouver style:
1. Aprile A, Gulino A, Storto M, Villa I, Beretta S, Merelli I, et al. Hematopoietic stem cell function in β-thalassemia is impaired and is rescued by targeting the bone marrow niche. Blood [Internet]. 2020; Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2019002721
Nature is one of the most renowned science journals in the world, therefore they created their own numeric referencing style. Its system requires in-text citations with numbers in superscript, which are later referenced in full in a sequential list at the end of the paper.
Check out these Nature style resources
Nature style examples
An in-text citation in Nature style:
A great revelation in the genomes field¹.
A reference list entry in Nature style:
1. Skov, L. et al. The nature of Neanderthal introgression revealed by 27,566 Icelandic genomes. Nature (2020) doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2225-9.
CSE (Council of Science Editors) style is is the standard format used in the physical and life sciences. This style offers three types of citation systems: citation-sequence, name-year, and citation-name.
• Name-Year: In-text citation of the author’s last name and the year of publication in brackets, and a bibliography at the end listing all references in full.
• Citation-Sequence: Every source is assigned a superscript number that is used as an in-text reference. The bibliography at the end lists all numbers with their reference in the order in which they appeared in the text.
• Citation-Name: The reference list is organized alphabetically by authors last names; each name is assigned a number which can be placed in superscript as an in-text reference.
Check out these CSE style resources
CSE style examples
An in-text citation in CSE citation-sequence style:
Therefore, the translocation of wild plants was tracked ¹.
A bibliography entry in CSE citation-sequence style:
1. Hofman CA, Rick TC. 2018. Ancient Biological Invasions and Island Ecosystems: Tracking Translocations of Wild Plants and Animals. J. Archaeol. [accessed 2019 Mar 11]; 26(1): 65–11. doi.org/10.1007/s10814-017-9105-3.
ACS (American Chemical Society) style is the standard citation style for chemistry. This style uses both numeric and author-date citations systems. The numbered in-text citations can have either a superscript or a number in italics, while the author-date uses the author's last name and date of publication. Both systems reference to a list of sources at the end.
Check out these ACS style resources
ACS style examples
An in-text citation in ACS numeric style:
The source contradicted the hypothesis ¹.
A reference list entry in ACS numeric style:
1. Brown, T.E.; LeMay H.E.; Bursten, B.E.; Murphy, C.; Woodward, P.; Stoltzfus M.E. Chemistry: The Central Science in SI Units. Pearson: New York, 2017.
#6 The Lancet
The Lancet is an international medical journal. This style uses a numeric citation system, in which in-text references are indicated with a superscript number. These numbers are later listed sequentially in a reference list.
Check out these Lancet style resources
Lancet style examples
An in-text citation in Lancet style:
For instance, the experiences of health-care providers in China ¹.
A reference list entry in Lancet style:
1. Liu Q, Luo D, Haase JE, et al. The experiences of health-care providers during the COVID-19 crisis in China: a qualitative study. Lancet Glob Health 2020. DOI:10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30204-7.
Frequently Asked Questions about citation styles with superscript numbers
🌟 What is the most notorious citation style with superscript numbers?
The most popular citation style with superscript numbers is AMA style. The American Medical Association is a numeric citation style that indicates in-text references with superscript numbers, which are then listed in full at the end of a paper. Take a look at our AMA citation generator.
📏 What are the rules to follow when using superscript numbers in a paper?
These are the general rules for implementing superscript numbers properly in your text:
- Use superscript Arabic numerals to cite sources.
- Insert the superscript number next to the statement, fact or quotation being cited.
- If citing more than one source at the same time, separate the numbers with commas.
For further details, make sure to consult the citation style of your choosing.
🍒 Are superscript numbers added both in-text, and in the reference list?
No. After you a add superscript number as an in-text citation, you add the same number in the reference list in normal size, including the source's information in full. Take a look at the example of AMA style above.
🧼 How can I create an error-free reference list?
You can easily create an error-free reference list with the BibGuru citation generator. This generator creates the fastest and most accurate citations possible, which will save you time and worries. The best part is, it is completely free!
🤔 Why do people use superscript numbers in citation styles?
Superscript numbers are not only found in mathematical or scientific formulas, but in plenty of citation styles as well. These numbers are set slightly above the line of text and they are always smaller than a normal font. Superscript numbers save space, and are easy to find in a text. Therefore, they are the perfect element to use in citation styles given its practicality.