Cochrane Style Manual
Differences between Cochrane and NLM style

In this section: Overview | Reference types | Reference fields | Formatting differences | Useful sections in Citing Medicine


The US National Library of Medicine (NLM)'s Citing Medicine is a useful resource that covers a wide range of referencing specificities. It is largely compatible with Cochrane style.

For certain reference types, reference fields, and formatting details, Cochrane style differs from Citing Medicine, and authors should stick to recommendations in the Cochrane Style Manual. These differences are listed below.

There are some useful sections in Citing Medicine that may be helpful for handling non-standard reference types or other aspects not specified by the Cochrane Style Manual.

Reference types

Reference types for which authors should follow the Cochrane Style Manual regardless of recommendations from Citing Medicine:

  • Cochrane documents;
  • letters, emails, and personal communication;
  • computer programs;
  • ongoing studies;
  • publications on the Internet.

Reference fields

This table gives details of reference fields for which authors should follow Cochrane Style Manual regardless of recommendations from Citing Medicine.

  Cochrane Style Manual (correct) Citing Medicine (incorrect)


Only the first six should be listed, and followed by 'et al' as described in Reference fields.

Note: when entering information in the Cochrane Register of Studies (CRS), it is preferable to enter as many authors as possible.

Citing Medicine asks for all authors to be listed.

Date of publication

When entering a date in Review Manager 5 (RevMan 5), include only the year of publication for most references types.

Note: except for conference proceedings event dates, newspaper articles, websites, and correspondence.

Note: when entering references in the Cochrane Register of Studies (CRS), month - and even day of publication - can be entered when available.

Citing Medicine recommends including the month and day of the publication date.

In Cochrane Reviews and protocols, only write '(in press)' without writing the expected date of publication. When a study is in press, Citing Medicine recommends writing the publication date as 'forthcoming YYYY' where YYYY is the year of expected publication.
If the article is an electronic publication ahead of print, add the date of electronic publication followed by '[Epub ahead of print]. If the article is now fully published, do not add '[Epub ahead of print]' and simply enter the year the article was published. For publications that are published, but were available online before publication (i.e. electronic publication (Epub)), Citing Medicine recommends writing both the date of electronic publication and the full date of publication.
City and country of publication Write country names in full, except for countries listed in the table Common abbreviations that do not need to be defined (i.e. UK, USA). Citing Medicine permits country names to be written in full (e.g. Germany), or international abbreviations to be used (e.g. DE).
Journal names Journal names should always be written in full and selected from the journal pick list. Citing Medicine asks for journal names to be written in the abbreviated form (e.g. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA).

Formatting differences

There are some differences between the styles of Cochrane and Citing Medicine, due to software limitations, or to promote consistency across different reference types.

  Cochrane Style Manual (correct) Citing Medicine (incorrect)
Edition and editors
of books
edition ed.
Punctuation between year of publication and journal or publisher

Oxford University Press, 2013

Oxford University Press; 2013
Lancet 2012;377:783-4 Lancet. 2012;377:783-4
Page numbers in book chapters and conference proceedings Oxford University Press, 2013:21-30 Oxford University Press; 2013. p. 21-30
Presentation of original and translated titles in non-English articles New nifedipine preparation makes single daily dose possible [Neue Nifedipin-Zubeitung ermoglicht tagliche Einmalgabe]. Fortschritte der Medzin 1997;115(33):54. Neue Nifedipin-Zubeitung ermoglicht tagliche Einmalgabe [New nifedipine preparation makes single daily dose possible]. Fortschr Med. 1997;115(33):54. German.

Useful sections in Citing Medicine

This table lists some useful sections in Citing Medicine that offer additional guidance.

Topic Summary of Citing Medicine guidance Citing Medicine sections

Citing websites without titles

If no title can be determined, construct a title with the first words present on the page.

Chapter 25. Web sites. Box 15: Determining the title

Missing page numbers

In general for online journals, use the pagination written on the PDF article including any added letter (e.g. 1-18 or e34-7). For missing page numbers, count the average number of pages or screens, and place the number in square brackets followed by 'p.' (e.g. [3 p.]).

Chapter 23. Journals on the Internet. Location (Pagination) for Journal Articles on the Internet

Chapter 23. Journals on the Internet. Box 54. No numbers appear on the pages of the article)

Chapter 25. Web sites. Box 83. No page numbers appear on the pages of the part)

Journal with changing names (e.g. British Medical Journal to BMJ)

Use the name of the journal at the time of the first publication of the article cited (e.g. write 'British Medical Journal' for a paper of 1983, but 'BMJ' for a paper of 2013).

Note: do not abbreviate the journal titles. See section on reference fields above and the general section on Reference fields.

Chapter 1. Journal Titles for Journal Articles

Ambiguities with names and surnames

Capitalize surnames according to how they appear in the original article cited.

Chapter 1. Journals. Author for Journal Title

Chapter 1. Journals. Box 1. Surnames with hyphens and other punctuation in them

Chapter 1. Journals. Box 3. Given names containing punctuation, a prefix, a preposition, or particle

Chapter 1. Journals. Box 5. Designations of rank in a family, such as Jr and III

Citing references with errata or articles that have been retracted

Add the phrases 'Erratum in:', 'Erratum for:', 'Retraction in:', or 'Retraction of:', depending on the case, and follow it by 'Name of the journal YYYY; volume(issue):pages'. All this information should be entered in the 'Pages' reference field in RevMan 5.

Chapter 1. Journals. Box 58. Errata

Chapter 1. Journals. Box 59. Retractions

Discontinuous page numbering

Write the ranges of the pagination of the article, separated by a comma. If there are more than three ranges, follow the third page range by the mention 'passim' (e.g. ' 3, 6-8', but '1-3, 6, 8-15 passim').

Chapter 1. Journals. Box 53. Discontinuous page numbers

Dates crossing months in conference proceedings

Write the date format as follows 'YYYY Month DD-Month DD' (e.g. '2014 February 23-March 2').

Chapter 3. Conference publications. Box 24. Dates cross months