BMJ British Medical Journal referencing

The BMJ (British Medical Journal) conforms in most respects to the Vancouver style, however its advice to contributors is as follows: Go to the BMJ guidelines for authors -

Examples of BMJ style

  1. Nantulya V, Reich M. The neglected epidemic: road traffic injuries in developing countries. BMJ 2002;324: 1139.
  2. Murray C, Lopez A. Alternative projections of mortality and disability by cause 1990-2020: global burden of disease study. Lancet 1997;349: 1498-504.
  3. Clarke R, Lewington S, Donald A, Johnston C, Refsum H, Stratton I, et al. Underestimation of the importance of homocysteine as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in epidemiological studies. J Cardiovasc Risk 2001;8: 363-9.
  4. Land Transport Safety Authority. New Zealand household travel survey. Wellington: Safety Standards Branch, Land Transport Safety Authority, 1991.
  5. World Health Organization. International classification of diseases, 9th revision: clinical modification. Ann Arbor, MI: Edwards Brothers, 1980.
  6. Department of Health. National service framework for coronary heart disease. London: DoH, 2000. (accessed 6 Jun 2003).
In the text, reference numbers are given in superscript. Notice that issue number is omitted if there is continuous pagination throughout a volume, there is a space between volume number and page numbers, page numbers are in elided form (51-4 rather than 51-54) and the name of journal or book is in italics.

More notes on BMJ House Style

Please write in a clear, direct, and active style. The BMJ is an international journal, and many readers do not have English as their first language. Our preferred dictionaries are
  • Chambers 21st Century Dictionary for general usage
  • Dorlands for medical terms.
  • No full stops in initials or abbreviations.
  • Minimal commas, but use commas before the "and" and "or" in lists:
The bishops of Durham, Canterbury, Bath and Wells, and York were invited.
  • Use commas on both sides of parenthetical clauses or phrases, and with commenting clauses.
  • Know the difference between defining clauses (no comma) and commenting clauses (commas needed):
Medical staff who often work overtime are likely to suffer from stress. Medical staff, who often work overtime, are likely to suffer from stress.
  • Use commas before "and," "or," "but" in two-sentence sentences (when the coordinate conjunction joins two main clauses):
Half received drug treatment, but their symptoms did not resolve more quickly. We would make an omelette, or you could go and get a takeaway.
  • Note that when a comma is used, both main clauses must have a subject:
The patients stopped smoking, and they felt better for it The patients stopped smoking and felt better for it.
  • Minimal hyphenation - use hyphens only for words with non-, -like, -type, and for adjectival phrases that include a preposition (one-off event, run-in trial). Not using hyphens will help you to avoid noun clusters (see below).
  • Quotation marks - please use double, not single, inverted commas for reported speech. Full stops and commas go inside quotation marks:
She said, "We will."
  • No exclamation marks, except in quotes from other sources.
  • Reference numbers go after commas and full stops, before semicolons and colons.
  • Minimal capitalisation. Use capitals only for names and proper nouns. Don't capitalise names of studies.
  • Write in the active and use the first person where necessary. Try to avoid long sentences that have several embedded clauses.
  • Sex: avoid "he" as a general pronoun. Make the nouns (and pronouns) plural, then use "they"; if that's not possible, use "he or she".
  • Nouns and verbs should agree:
The data are; None is...
  • Organisations and groups of people take singular verbs:
The government is; The team has researched...
  • Avoid noun clusters:
"Patient in coronary care unit" rather than "coronary care unit patient."
  • Watch out for "danglers" (unattached participles and misrelated clauses):
Joining the service in 1933, his first post was... (the post didn't join the service) Joining the service in 1933, he was first posted to... (this is correct) Spelling English, not American:
  • aetiology
  • oestradiol
  • anaemia
  • haemorrhage
  • practice (noun)
  • practise (verb)
  • Foetus and fetus are both acceptable in English: the BMJ uses fetus.
Use s-spellings:
  • minimise
  • organisation
  • capitalisation

Use English spellings for place names: Lyons, not Lyon; see Whitaker's Almanac or Times Gazeteer We allow minimum use of abbreviations because they're hard to read and often the same abbreviation means different things in different specialities and contexts.

Technical terms Drugs should be referred to by their approved non-proprietary names, and the source of any new or experimental preparations should be given. Scientific measurements should be given in SI units, except for blood pressure which should be expressed in mm Hg. Numbers under 10 are spelt out, except for measurements with a unit (8mmol/l) or age (6 weeks old), or when in a list with other numbers (14 dogs, 12 cats, 9 gerbils). Raw numbers should be given alongside percentages, and as supporting data for p values.

Proof corrections These should be kept to a minimum and should be clear and consistent. If you need to justify corrections to the proofs, please do so in a covering letter, not on the proof.

References Authors must verify references against the original documents before submitting the article. These should be numbered in the order in which they appear in the text. At the end of the article the full list of references should follow the Vancouver style. Please give the names and initials of all authors (unless there are more than six, when only the first six should be given followed by et al). The authors' names are followed by the title of the article; the title of the journal abbreviated according to the style of Index Medicus; the year of publication; the volume number; and the first and last page numbers. References to books should give the names of any editors, place of publication, editor, and year. Examples: 21 Soter A, Wasserman SI, Austen KF. Cold urticaria: release into the circulation of histamine and eosinophil chemotactic factor of anaphylaxis during cold challenge. N Engl J Med 1976;294:687-90 22 Osler AG. Complement: mechanisms and functions. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1976. Information from manuscripts not yet in press, papers reported at meetings, or personal communications should be cited only in the text, not as a formal reference. Authors should get permission from the source to cite personal communications.

Electronic citations You may know of other websites that will interest people reading your article. If you know the web addresses (URLs) of those sites, please include them in the relevant places in the text of your article. If we accept your article we will insert hotlinks in the electronic version so that people using can jump directly from your article to those related sites.

Illustrations and photographs Please try to provide informative and relevant photographs, figures, or other illustrations when you're submitting articles to the BMJ. If you cannot provide pictures with your article, perhaps you can suggest some for our picture editor to find. You must seek the patient's written consent to publication in the BMJ if there is any chance that he or she may be identified from a picture, from its legend or other accompanying text. Patients are almost always willing to give such consent. We no longer publish pictures with black bands across the eyes because bands fail to mask someone's identity effectively.

Tables Tables should be simple and should not duplicate information in the text of the paper. Illustrations should be used only when data cannot be expressed clearly in any other way. When graphs, scattergrams, or histograms are submitted the numerical data on which they are based should be supplied; in general, data given in histograms will be converted into tabular form. For tables, Benchpress also accepts most common word processing formats. It cannot, however, handle tables produced using: OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) technology to display information or embed files, Bitmap (.bmp), PICT (.pict), Excel (.xls), Photoshop (.psd), Canvas (.cnv), CorelDRAW (.cdr) and locked or encrypted PDFs. Nor can Benchpress cope with multi-page PowerPoint files (.ppt); it will only accept one slide per file.