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 numbers. We compiled a list of the main numeric citation styles to help you get started with your paper. Each style includes an explanation of its system, just like reference examples.
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
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
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.
The Science journal, often referred to as Science Magazine, is a peer-reviewed journal by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This journal features a numeric citation style that consists of in-text references and notes with a number in parentheses and italicized. Each reference is given a unique number that is later added to a reference list.
Check out these style resources
Science style examples
An in-text citation in Science style:
This clearly contrasts with the single-donor gene transfers associated with endosymbiosis (22).
A reference list entry in Science style:
22. X. Fan, H. Qiu, W. Han, Y. Wang, D. Xu, X. Zhang, D. Bhattacharya, N. Ye, Phytoplankton pangenome reveals extensive prokaryotic horizontal gene transfer of diverse functions. Sci. Adv. 6, eaba0111 (2020).
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) style is based on the Chicago citation style and is used specifically for engineering and science papers. This style uses a numeric citation format, in which a number in square brackets is given as an in-text citation. This number corresponds to a reference list entry at the end of the paper.
Check out these IEEE style resources
IEEE style examples
An in-text citation in IEEE style:
As seen in a multi-camera study ...
A bibliography entry in IEEE style:
 E. Nuger and B. Benhabib, “Multi-Camera Active-Vision for Markerless Shape Recovery of Unknown Deforming Objects,” J. Intell. Rob. Syst., vol. 92, no. 2, pp. 223–264, Oct. 2018.
Frequently Asked Questions about citation styles with numbers
🥇 What is the citation style with numbers mostly used?
The citation style with numbers mostly used is Vancouver style. This style consists of in-text citations indicated with either superscript or bracketed numbers.
💬 What type of formats do the citations styles with numbers have?
The format of citation styles with numbers is called numeric. In general, all numeric styles follow the same system, in which a number in superscript, or in brackets is given as an in-text citation. This number corresponds to a reference list entry at the end of the paper, in which sources are given in full.
🤼 Is a numeric style better than an author-date style?
Using a numeric style instead of an author-date style depends on the author's personal preference and topic. Numeric styles tend to be simpler, easier to implement and don't clog the text, while author-date styles tend to use more space and require more time identifying the author and date of the source. However, some topics deal with many numbers in the text, and in that case an author-date style could be better.
🔢 Which numbers can be used in numeric citations styles?
Numeric citation styles use Arabic numerals, which is the most common system for the symbolic representation of numbers in the world today.
📌 What journals developed their own numeric citation style?
The Science journal and Nature created their own numeric citation styles. The Science Journal uses a numeric citation style with numbers in parentheses and italicized. Nature, on the other hand, uses a style with superscript numbers.