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References Guide

  • Verify all references using PubMedexternal icon. Authors are responsible for the accuracy and completeness of their references.
  • Follow Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journalsexternal icon, published by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (also known as the Vancouver Group), for guidance on how to format references.
  • For journal articles, the minimum acceptable amount of information is the following: Author(s). Article title. Journal Name Year;volume:inclusive page numbers.
  • For books, the minimum acceptable amount of information is the following: Author(s). Title. Place of publication: publisher;year:inclusive page numbers.
  • Number in-text reference citations, using parentheses, in the order they appear in the text, figures, or tables. If a reference citation occurs in a table, it should be numbered consecutively according to the table’s mention in the text.
  • Do not use superscripted numerals for reference citations.
  • If you have used automatic bibliographic software (eg, EndNote), eliminate all automatic links between citation numbers and references.
  • Consult List of Journals Indexed in Index Medicusexternal icon for accepted journal abbreviations. If a journal is not listed, spell out the journal title in full.
  • Do not italicize journal titles. 
  • List the first six authors followed by “et al.” 
  • For material that has been submitted for publication but not yet accepted, note within the text using the following format: (EL Smith, PhD, unpublished data, December 2003).
  • For personal communications, written or oral, use this format: (MW Johnson, MD, oral [or written] communication, December 2003).

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Journal Articles


PCD article

Welsh AL, Sauaia A, Jacobellis J, Min S, Byers T. Effect of a church-based approach to increase breast cancer screening among Latinas on Medicaid. Prev Chronic Dis 2005;2(4). https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2005/oct/04_0140.htm. Accessed [date].

All other journal articles

Bachman G, Grill J. Exercise in the postmenopausal woman. Geriatrics 1987;42(1):75-7,81-5.

Roberts RE, Kaplan GA, Shema SJ, Strawbrdige WJ. Prevalence and correlates of depression in an aging cohort. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 1997a;154:1384-90.

Roberts RE, Kaplan GA, Shema SJ, Strawbridge WJ. Prevalence and correlates of depression in an aging cohort. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 1997b;52B:5252-8.

Nevitt MC, Ettinger B, Black DM, Stone K, Jamal SA, Ensrud K, et al. The association of radiographically detected vertebral fractures with back pain and function: a prospective study. Ann Intern Med 1998;128(10):793-800.

Journal article with published erratum

Patterson BH, Block G. Food choices and the cancer guidelines. [Published erratum in: Am J Public Health 1988;78(6):620]. Am J Public Health 1988;78(3):282-6.

Forthcoming journal article (must be accepted for publication)

Pateman B, Saka SM, Lai MK. Positive directions in Hawaii’s adolescent health risk behaviors, school health policies, and school health education programs: results from the 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the 2002 School Health Education Profile Survey. Pacific Education Research Journal. Forthcoming.

Journal article with a non-English language title

Hernández HH, Argüero SR. Impacto que tiene la actividad física sistemática, la nutrición adecuada y el manejo del estrés para modificar los factores de riesgo coronario. Rev Mex Cardiol 1997;8(4):140-7.

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Berkman LF, Breslow L. Health and ways of living: the Alameda County Study. New York (NY): Oxford University Press; 1983.

Mausner J, Kramer S. Epidemiology — an introductory text. 2nd edition. Philadelphia (PA): W.B. Saunders Company; 1985. p. 185-6.

Book with editor(s), compiler(s) as author(s)

Smedley BD, Stith AY, Nelson AR, editors. Unequal treatment: confronting racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. Washington (DC): National Academies Press; 2003. 764 p.

Book chapter

Cowie CC, Eberhardt MS. Sociodemographic characteristics of persons with diabetes. In: Harris MI, Cowie CC, Stern MP, Boyko EJ, Reiber GE, Bennett PH, editors. Diabetes in America. 2nd edition. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health; 1995. p. 85-116.

Mackie RM. The epidemiology of melanoma. In: Ruiter DJ, Welvaart K, Ferrone S, editors. Cutaneous melanoma and precursor lesions. Boston (MA): Academic Publishers; 1984. p. 1-8.

Chapter in a book, author of the chapter is the same as the book author

Burke J. The day the universe changed. Boston (MA): Little, Brown and Company; 1985. Chapter 4, Matter of fact; p. 91-124.

Volume of a book with separate title, organization as author and publisher

US Commission on Civil Rights. The health care challenge: acknowledging disparity, confronting discrimination, and ensuring equality. Vol. 1, The role of governmental and private health care programs and initiatives. Washington (DC): US Commission on Civil Rights; 1999. 287 p.

Following location, no state name necessary if included in publisher’s name

California Environmental Protection Agency. Health effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, final report. Sacramento: California Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment; 1997.

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Online Publications

Electronic monograph online

Changes in cigarette related disease risks and their implications for prevention and control. Smoking and tobacco control monograph 8. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute; 1997. http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/trcb/monographs/8/index.html. Updated January 1, 2006. Accessed December 2, 2003.

Klein RJ, Schoenborn CA. Age adjustment using the 2000 projected US population. Statistical Notes Reports. No. 20. Hyattsville (MD): National Center for Health Statistics; 2001.

5 a day for better health. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2007. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/5aday4betterhealth.html. Accessed February 20, 2007.

Joint Committee on National Health Education Standards. National health education standards. Atlanta (GA): American Cancer Society; 1995. http://acs.org/11234.html. Accessed February 20, 2007.

Diabetes risk test. Alexandria (VA): American Diabetes Association; 1990. http://www.diabetes.org/risk-test.jsp. Accessed February 20, 2007.

Open database online

State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation (STATE) System. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2002. http://www2.cdc.gov/nccdphp/osh/state. Accessed January 29, 2004.

National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse. TE projects. Washington (DC): Rails-to-Trails Conservancy; 2002. http://www.enhancements.org.

Electronic, published by organization

Making the connection: health and student achievement. Reston (VA): Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education and Recreation; 2002. http://www.thesociety.org/pdf/makingtheconnection.ppt. Accessed October 13, 2008.

US Department of Health and Human Services. Steps to a healthier US. Washington (DC): Office of Public Health Promotion; 2001. http://www.healthierus.gov/steps/steps_brochure.pdf. Accessed October 13, 2008.

Internet homepage

School Health Index for physical activity, healthy eating, and a tobacco-free lifestyle. Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Adolescent and School Health; 2002. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/shi. Accessed October 13, 2008.

What you need to know about skin cancer. Washington (DC): National Institutes of Health. http://www.cancer.govcancer_informationcancer_typeskin. Updated September 16, 2000. Accessed February 6, 2004.

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Scientific or technical report

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity and health: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; 1996.

Individuals’ risk of melanoma increases with time outdoors, especially in high-sunlight areas. Washington (DC): National Cancer Institute; 2002. http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/individualmelanoma. Accessed February 6, 2004.

Newspaper article

Smith D. Demonizing fat in the war on weight. New York Times 2004 May 1;Sect B:7 (col 1).

Legal case

Jacobson v. Massachusetts
, 197 US 11 (1905).

In the example above, the numbers indicate volume and page number: The case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts appears in volume 197 of the US Reports on page 11, decided in 1905, by the US Supreme Court.

Federal statute

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 USC §9601-9675 (1988).

The example above cites sections 9601-9675 of title 42 of the US Code enacted in 1988. If a federal statute has not yet been codified, cite to Statutes at Large (abbreviated Stat, preceded by a volume number, and followed by a page number), if available, and the Public Law number of the statute, as in the following example:

Pub L No. 93-627, 88 Stat 2126.

Cite the Federal Register like a journal. Give entire enacted date for the legislation, as in the example below.

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research Centers. Federal Register 2003 Mar 27;68(59):14984–90.

State statute

Tex Educ Code ch 38, § 38.013.

The example above cites section 38.013 of chapter 38 of the Texas Education Code.

Conference proceedings

Sauaia A, Dauchot CP, Borrayo E, Min S, Leyba J, Gallo SM, et al. The Tepeyac Project: a church-based approach to increase breast cancer screening among Latinas in Colorado. Conference proceeding from the 9th Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved and Cancer, Intercultural Cancer Council. 2004 Mar 24-28; Washington, DC.


Aubrey LL. Motivational interviewing with adolescents presenting for outpatient substance abuse treatment [unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Albuquerque (NM): University of New Mexico; 1998.

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The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors’ affiliated institutions.

Page last reviewed: February 25, 2015