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Home Blog Citation Styles How to do NLM Citation: A Step by Step Guide

How to do NLM Citation: A Step by Step Guide

How to do NLM Citation: A Step by Step Guide

Different citation styles have different guidelines and formats that the students need to follow when working with that particular style. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) style is specifically designed and developed to be used for the field of medicine. Citing medical sources could be different from citing other kinds of sources.

Where many citation styles use the author’s surname and the year of publication in the parenthesis for their in-text citation, there are many others that use a numerical system for citation and referencing. The NLM style uses the numerical system for its citation and referencing purposes.

In this guide, you will get complete guidance and help with understanding how to use the NLM style for citations and references in your medical field papers and publications.

What is the NLM Citation Format?

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) style is specially developed for the field of medicine and provides guidance for a number of purposes. It guides the writers, editors, and publishers at multiple levels.

For the authors and writers, the style guide helps them in formatting and styling their lists of references. For the editors, it helps them to check and revise the prepared lists and for the publishers, it guides them in structuring and making the citation guidelines for the writers and the authors.

This way, they set the standards accordingly and help the researchers and students of the said field and set their papers properly and according to the NLM citation format.

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How to Cite in NLM Citation Style?

Just like other citation styles, citing in the NLM citation style requires ample and correct knowledge and guidance, which you will get in this blog. Other than the IEEE referencing style, the NLM style is also developed for a specific field of study. This is why it is important that you know about the differences before you work on your papers and publications.

Like other styles, the citation and referencing format for different sources is different from each other. To know more about them, follow the sections below:

NLM In-Text Citation

In-text citations are added into the body of the paper. These in-text citations tell the readers about the works that you have used in your paper or publication article. These citations are also used to avoid plagiarism and to give due credit to the original writer.

Moreover, they show the writer’s hard work and how he has consulted different works for study and reference purposes.

The NLM citation style offers three kinds of in-text citation styles. The said styles are explained below:

The Citation and Sequence Style: In this style, the superscript number is added within the paper content. This superscript number refers to the full citation or reference in the reference list. The NLM style list of references is arranged in the numerical format and the superscript number refers to this full reference entry.

For Example:

‘The study's1 findings ……..’

‘…reference to Zelinski article1’

The Citation and Name Style: In this citation variation, the superscript number contains the reference number of the studies that are used as the citations and references in the content.

For Example:

‘Please refer to the following studies1,3……’

The Last Name and Year Citation Style: In this citation style, the last name of the author and the year of publication are added in the parenthesis and placed at the end of the cited quote or content.

For Example:

‘The statement was found to be true and as per the ‘ collision theory’, it was the outcome of all that happened ( Faber 2013)…….

The writer can use either of the given in-text referencing styles and be consistent with it throughout the paper.

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How to do NLM Style Referencing?

Referencing is different from adding in-text citations as this is the complete list of works that are used in the paper. The in-text citations are related to the references that are added and listed in the list of references.

These references give complete information about the works that are used in the paper or the journal article. By referring to the list, the reader could reach out to the sources that you have used and study them for himself.

The format and structure are different for different sources. Students use different sources like books, journals, articles, and books and the referencing format for each of them is different. When making the list of references, make sure that you know about these different styles and formats.

Below, we have explained and given some examples of the sources that are different and used in the paper.

For the Print Articles: Author(s). Title of the article. Abbreviated Journal Name. Year Month Day; vol(issue): pages.

Magill SS, Edwards JR, Bamberg W, Beldavs ZG, Dumyati G, Kainer MA, Lynfield R, Maloney M, McAllister-Hollod L, Nadle J, Ray SM, Thompson DL, Wilson LE, Fridkin SK; Emerging Infections Program Healthcare-Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Use Prevalence Survey Team. Multistate point-prevalence survey of healthcare-associated infections. N Engl J Med. 2014 March 27;370(13):1198-208.

For Online Articles: Author(s). Title of the article. Abbreviated Journal Name [Internet]. Year Month Day [cited Year Month Day]; vol(issue): pages. Available from: URL

Russo SG, Neumann P, Reinhardt S, Timmermann A, Niklas A, Quintel M, Eich CB. Impact of physical fitness and biometric data on the quality of external chest compression: a randomized, crossover trial [Internet]. BMC Emerg Med. 2011 Nov 4 [cited 2014 Apr 30];11(20). Available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-227X/11/20

For Print Books with Editors: Name(s) separated by commas, editors. Title of the book. Edition. City (US State abbreviation or Country): Publisher; year.

Ryan KJ, Ray CG, Sherris JC, editors. Sherri’s medical microbiology. 5th ed. New York (NY): McGraw-Hill Medical; 2010.

For a Chapter in Print Books with Editors: Author(s) of the chapter. Title of chapter. In: names of editor(s), editors. Title of the book. Edition. City (US State abbreviation or Country): Publisher; year. p. chapter page number(s).

Jacob E. Pain assessment and management in children. In: Hockenberry MJ, Wilson D, editors. Wong's essentials of pediatric nursing. 9th ed. St. Louis (MO): Elsevier/Mosby; 2013. p. 144-184.

For Online Books: Author(s). Title of book [Internet]. Edition. City (US State abbreviation or Country): Publisher; year [cited Year Month Day]. Available from: URL

Morton DA, Foreman KB, Albertine KH. The big picture: gross anatomy [Internet]. New York (NY): McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011 [cited 2014 May 1]. Available from: http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=381

For a Chapter in Online Books with Editors: Author(s) of the chapter. Title of chapter. In: names of editor(s), editors. Title of book [Internet]. Edition. City (US State abbreviation or Country): Publisher; year [cited Year Month Day]. [about the number of p.]. Available from: URL

Gruner M. Sports nutrition. In: Madden CC, Putukian M, Young CC, McCarty EC, editors. Netter's Sports Medicine [Internet]. 1st ed. Philadelphia (PA): Elsevier/Saunders; 2010 [cited 2014 May 1]. [about 7 p.]. Available from: http://www.clinicalkey.com/playContent/3-s2.0-B9781416049227000142

For Lectures: Author (Author affiliation, location). Title of presentation [Unpublished lecture notes]. Lecture for: class (Recipient affiliation, location). Date of the lecture.

Porter C (Jefferson College of Health Sciences Library, Carilion Clinic Health Sciences Libraries, Roanoke, VA). JCHS Library overview: PA resources [Unpublished lecture notes]. Lecture for: Physician Assistant class of 2015 (Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Roanoke, VA). 2013 Aug 29.

For Dissertations: Author. Title of book [dissertation]. [Place of publication]: Publisher; year of completion. The number of pages p.

Frank ST. Source and synaptic contacts of nitric oxide signaling circuitry in the primary visual thalamus: the mouse as a comparative model of thalamic form and function [dissertation]. [Winston-Salem (NC)]: Wake Forest University; 2005. 181 p.

For Theses: Author. Title of book [master's thesis]. [Place of publication]: Publisher; year of completion. The number of pages p.

Bittenbinder EN. The role of patient education in the patient's familiarity and understanding of treatment [master's thesis]. [Ann Arbor (MI)]: University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth; 2008. 83 p.

For Print Papers or Conferences: Author(s). Title of paper or presentation. In: Editors of proceedings, editors. Conference proceedings title. Name of society meeting or conference title; Year Month Day(s) of meeting or conference; Place of meeting or conference. Place of publication: Publisher; Year of publication. p. page location.

Steer GA, Slaughter ML, Whiter KA, Poulsen CR, Carhart ED, Jones S. Hybridization of peer to peer learning and interprofessional education to facilitate human anatomy and physiology II laboratories: a pilot project with student perspectives. In: Doolittle PE, Lusk DL, editors. 6th Annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy. Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research; 2014 Feb 5-7; Blacksburg (VA). Blacksburg: Virginia Tech; 2014. p. 314-15.

For Online Poster Session Presentations: Author(s). Title of presentation [Internet]. Poster session presented at: Name of Conference. Conference proceedings title. Name of society meeting or conference title; Year Month Day(s) of meeting or conference; Place of meeting or conference. Available from: URL

Blaz JW. The format of standard tools for nursing handoff: an integrative review [Internet]. Poster session presented at: NI 2012: Advancing Global Health Through Informatics. 11th International Congress on Nursing Informatics; 2012 Jun 23-7 [cited 2014 May 1]; Montreal (Canada). Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3799142/

For Online Government and Organization Reports: Author(s) or responsible body (Author affiliation or performing organization). Title of report [Internet]. Place of publication: Publisher; Year Month Day of publication [cited Year Month Day]. Total number of pages p. Report No.: Report number. Contract No.: contract number. Available from: URL

Ip S, Chung M, Raman G, Chew P, Magula N, DeVine D, Trikalinos T, Lau J (Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center, Boston, MA). Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: 2007 Apr [cited 2014 May 1]. 415 p. Report No.: 153. Contract No.: 290-02-0022. Available from: http://archive.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/brfout/brfout.pdf

For Online Videos: Title of homepage [Internet]. Place of publication: Publisher; date of publication of the homepage. [Video], Title of video; date of publication of video [cited date viewed]; [length of video]. Available from: URL

MedlinePlus®: trusted health information for you [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Institutes of Health; 2014 May 1. [Video], Bilateral myringotomy tube placement; 2012 Jun 15 [cited 2014 May 2]; [5 min., 7 sec]. Available from: http://orlive.com/broward-health/videos/bilateral-myringotomy-tube-placement

For Images in the Online Articles: Author(s). Title of the article. Abbreviated Journal Name [Internet]. Year Month Day; vol(issue): pages. Figure or Table, Title of figure or name; [cited Year Month Day]; p. A number of page figures or tables are located. Available from: URL

Gottlieb S. Short dose of antibiotics helps against Lyme disease. BMJ [Internet]. 2001 Jun 23; 322(7301):1506. Figure, Deer tick: responsible for spreading Lyme disease; [cited 2014 May 2]; p. 1506. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1120563/pdf/1506a.pdf

For Images in Online Books: Author(s). Title of book [Internet]. Edition. City (US State abbreviation or Country): Publisher; year. [Figure or Table] Title of figure; [cited Year Month Day]; [page]. Available from: URL

Morton DA, Foreman KB, Albertine KH. The big picture: gross anatomy [Internet]. New York (NY): McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. [Table 32-1] Muscles of the forearm; [cited 2014 May 2]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=381§ionid=40140042

For DVDs and CDs: Author(s). Title of recording [type of medium]. Place of publication: Publisher; year of publication. Extent: physical description.

Acland RD. Acland’s DVD Atlas of human anatomy [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2004. 6 DVDs: sound, color, 4 3/4 in.

For Website: Title of homepage [Internet]. Place of publication: Publisher; date of publication of the homepage. Title of the page on the web site; date of publication of page [cited date accessed]; [pages]. Available from: URL

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Health and Human Services; [cited 2014 May 2]. Understanding health news: complementary health approaches in the news; [modified 2013 Nov 7, cited 2014 May 2]. Available from: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/understanding-health-news

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Using NLM Style Citation Generator

How to use citation generators to make citations and references? Should the students use citations generators to make the citations? If you are doing it to learn then yes you can use it to make the citations but if you are looking for an automatic citation generator then no, the method may not be as feasible.

The reason is that these generators are not reliable and are more susceptible to make the error. Therefore, it is important that you learn it yourself, or get professional writing help, rather than relying on an automated or online citations generator.

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