ACORN referencing guide

Vancouver style

ACORN publications, including the Journal of Perioperative Nursing, use a citing and referencing style based on the Vancouver system of referencing.

The Vancouver style is a numbered referencing style and consists of:

  1. numbers that indicate citations of someone else's work in the text

  2. a reference list at the end of the document in which references are sequentially numbered and provide full details of the corresponding in-text citation.

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The Journal of Perioperative Nursinguses superscript Arabic numerals as citation numbers in text. The superscript numerals are placed before most punctuation marks, including full stops. 

Citing more than one source

When more than one source is cited the numerals are listed together with commas, but no spaces, in between them (… 3,5,7) or, if the numerals are consecutive, with an en dash, also without spaces (... 3–7).

Citing mutiple works by the same author

Each individual work cited has its own reference number, even if it is by the same author and published in the same year as another work that has been cited.

Including page numbers

Page numbers are not usually included with the citation number; however, use the following format should you wish to specify the page (… 3 p.105 ), e.g. if you include a direct quote.

Citing secondary sources

If you are citing an author whose ideas are published in another author's work, and you have not accessed or read the original piece of work, this is a secondary citation. You should cite the author of the work you have read and include this source in your reference list.

Naming author(s)

Use only the surname if naming an author as part of a citation (e.g. Duff3 noted ...). If there are only two authors, use both their names (e.g. Duff and Ralph3 noted ...). If there are more than two, use 'et al' (e.g. if naming Duff, Ralph and Hamlin you would use Duff et al.3 noted ...).


Present your references as a numbered list at the end of your article. References should be in the order in which they are cited in the text.

The reference list should include all the references you have cited and only the references you have cited.

Examples of commonly used references are given below. In the reference list:

  • put author’s initials after their family name without punctuation (Smith AB)

  • list all authors of a work, up to six authors. When there are more than six authors, list the first six followed by ‘et. al’.

  • use sentence case for titles of articles (i.e. capitalise only the first word and other words that normally take a capital) but use title case for titles of books (i.e. capitalise allwords other than articles, prepositions and conjunctions)

  • put a full stop between principle elements of the reference (i.e. between author/s and article or book title, between title and publication etc.)

  • do not use quotation marks or italics

  • abbreviate journal titles according to the most recent bibliographic index in the relevant subject field

  • treat year, volume and page numbers as in the examples below

  • use upper case for ‘DOI’ (Digital Object Identifier).

Check the reference details against the actual source.

Examples of references

The following examples show how to format items in a reference list.

Journal (hard copy)

Duff J, Butler M, Davies M, Williams R, Carlile J. Factors that predict evidence use by Australian perioperative nurses. JPN 2016;29(2):24–29.

The elements in the above reference are, in order of appearance:

Title of article
Abbreviated name of journal with year;volume number(issue):page numbers.

Journal (online)

Schafer MF, Burney DW, Robb WJ, White DW. Distractions in the operating room threaten patient safety. J Am Acad Orth Surg 2012;6(5):213–223. Available from:

Dumville JC, McFarlane E, Edwards P, Lipp A, Holmes A, Liu Z. Preoperative skin antiseptics for preventing surgical wound infections after clean surgery. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD003949. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003949.pub4. [A]

The elements in the above references are, in order of appearance:

Title of article
Abbreviated name of journal with year;volume number(issue):page numbers
url or doi (digital object identifier).

Web page or document available online

ACORN follows the format for internet sources recommended by the University of Melbourne ( which is:

Author. Title of web page or document [Medium]. Place of publication: Publisher; Date of publication [updated Year Month Day; cited Year Month Day]. Available from: url.

For example:

World Health Organization (WHO). Drinking water [Internet]. Geneva: WHO; 2015 [updated June 2015; cited 2015 July 20]. Available from:

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC). Safety and quality improvement guide standard 6: Clinical handover (October 2012) [Internet]. Sydney: ACSQHC; 2012 [cited 2014 November 27]. Available from:

Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA). PS43 Statement on fatigue and the anaesthetist [Internet]. Melbourne: ANZCA; 2007 [cited 2014 Dec 08]. Available from: [G]

If there is no author, the reference starts with the title of webpage or document. 

If no date of publication can be found, use the copyright date preceded with ‘c’ Example: c2010.

If no dates can be found, use date cited.


Use title case for the titles of books, i.e. capitalise allwords other than articles, prepositions and conjunctions.

Phillips N. Berry and Kohn’s Operating Room Technique. 11thed. St. Louis: Mosby, 2006.

Rothrock JC. Alexander’s Care of the Patient in Surgery. 12thed. St. Louis: Mosby, 2003.

Australian College of Peioperative Nurses Ltd (ACORN). Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia 15th ed. Adelaide, South Australia: ACORN, 2018.

Government publication/report

Standards Australia / Standards New Zealand. AS/NZS 4187:2014. Reprocessing of reusable medical devices in health service organisations. Sydney: Standards Australia; 2014.

Organ and Tissue Authority. Record organ donation and transplantation outcomes in 2016 fact sheet [Internet]. Canberra: Organ and Tissue Authority; 2016 [cited 2017 Jan 14]. Available from: