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Homepage / Introducing our NLM Numbered referencing style

Introducing our NLM Numbered referencing style


The NLM Numbered Referencing Guide was introduced for new students using a numbered style in August 2023. It uses the National Library of Medicine (NLM) style guide, which is sometimes also referred to as Vancouver referencing.

We support two different referencing styles at Cranfield – the Author-Date style (APA7) and the Numbered style (NLM). Please check with your supervisor or lecturer before you start collating your references for your first assignment, as they may have a preference for which system you use. NLM is particularly favoured by some courses in the School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing, and Cranfield Defence and Security.

What is a numbered style of referencing?

Using a numbered style essentially means providing a number in your written work to indicate where you used the work of another person or organisation (an in-text citation). The bibliographic details of each in-text citation such as the author, title, publisher details and publication date are then provided in a reference list at the end of your assignment so the reader of your work can trace each citation.

How do I do this?

In-text citations can be formatted using either round brackets (1) or square brackets [1]. Whichever format you choose to use, be consistent and use the same format throughout (you may find if you are using reference management software, such as Mendeley, the format is decided for you).

The bibliographic details of each in-text citation (known as a reference) are listed in a reference list using the corresponding number allocated to them in the order they appear in your writing.

Why use the NLM style?

The NLM style dictates which bibliographic details (sometimes referred to as elements) need to be included in each reference for different sources of information. It also determines the order of each element (e.g. author always comes first) and any punctuation or formatting required. Providing each element in a certain order, format, and using punctuation makes it easier for readers to trace and locate each source.

Where can I find out more?

Taught students who are required to use the NLM numbered referencing style for their course should be enrolled on the Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism – Numbered NLM course which is available through your Canvas dashboard.

We also provide a range of guidance on the NLM Numbered style when you need it:

The NLM style is supported by Mendeley. To add the style, go to Citation Settings in the Mendeley Cite add-in and select “National Library of Medicine” from the listed citation styles.

If you have any questions about referencing and the NLM numbered style, please contact us and we will be happy to help you.

Written By: Anna Barefoot

Anna is a Teaching and Learning Librarian

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