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NLM Style: Citing Your Sources: Reference List

A brief guide to the NLM style rules

Cheat Sheet (PDF)

Tips for Citations

Primary Rule

An author should never cite a source that they have not seen. When citing, be sure to refer to the version of the document that you saw. For example, do not cite a journal article you read online as a journal article in print. 


Across all source types, be sure to list authors in the order that they appear in the text and be sure to include all authors. 

Journal Abbreviations

Use PubMed journal abbreviations. You can look up PubMed abbreviations in the NLM Catalog. If a journal abbreviation is not included in PubMed, follow abbreviation rules for journal abbreviation in Citing Medicine.

Reference style

Do not use bold, underline or italic fonts. 


NLM Style does allow for some number of variations. It is up to the user to remember to be consistent with these variations. For example, if you decide to use a full journal title rather than the abbreviation, be sure that you use the full journal title for all journal citations. 

Reference List: Basics

General Format for references:


Author AA, Author BB, Author CC. Title of article. Abbreviated Title of Journal. Date of Publication; volume(issue): pagination.

  • Capitalize only the first word of the title, proper nouns, proper adjectives, acronyms and initialisms
  • Cite the journal name as it was published at the time
  • Use PubMed journal abbreviations by searching the NLM Catalog
  • Include the year, month and day of a publication (e.g. 2012 Nov 24)
  • Abbreviate months to the first three letters
  • Give the inclusive page numbers on which the article appears


Author AA, Author BB, Author CC. Title of book. Edition. Place of Publication: Publisher; Date of Publication. pagination.

  • If there are no authors, only editors, follow the last named author with a comma and the word editor or editor
  • Capitalize only the first word of the title, proper nouns, proper adjectives, acronyms and initialisms
  • Indicate the edition when a book has more than one edition or version
  • Place the names of secondary authors (editors, translators, illustrators) after the title and edition statement
  • Follow US and Canadian cities with the two-letter abbreviation for the state or province
  • Follow cities in other countries with the name of the country either written out or using the two-letter ISO country code
  • Record the name of the publisher as it appears in the publication
  • Follow the page total with a space and a letter p

Web site

Author AA. Name of the Web Site [Medium]. Place of Publication: Publisher; Date of Publication [Date of Update/Revision]. Available from: URL. 

  • If no author names are given, omit the author field
  • Reproduce title of page as closely as possible to the wording on the screen
  • For type of medium, list Internet in square brackets (e.g. [Internet])
  • If place is unknown, list as: place unknown in vertical bars (e.g. |place unknown|)
  • If publisher is unknown, list as: publisher unknown in vertical bars (e.g. |publisher unknown|)