Standard Documentation Formats
Standard Documentation Formats - Numbered Note
Written by Margaret Procter, Writing Support   
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Standard Documentation Formats
MLA System: Parenthetical Author-Page References (humanities)
Numbered Note
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Numbered Note Systems (sciences)

Many sciences and applied sciences use a citation-sequence system. They give numbered notes in the text of the paper that match a numbered list of sources at the end--given in the sequence the sources were mentioned, not in alphabetical order as in most other systems. Look at copies of journals in your discipline to see formatting details, including distinctive punctuation, compressed spacing, and lack of underlining or italics. Your professor may ask you to imitate the format used in a specific journal.

The system worked out by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is often used in Computer Science and Engineering. Consult the handy IEEE Citation Style Guide.

Another very compressed system was created at a 1978 meeting of international medical-journal editors (ICMJE) in Vancouver. These Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals are widely used (with variations) in the life sciences and medical sciences. Model your entries on what you see in journal articles in those fields, or consult the detailed guide prepared by the National Institutes of Health. The Council of Science Editors includes this system among others in its manual, Scientific Style and Format. The example below uses the system developed by the ICMJE.


Gastrointestinal symptoms in some patients have been found to be related to specific life crises (1, 2) such as marriage, retirement, or bereavement. Nausea in particular often lacks an organic cause (1, 3), but can be correlated with stressful events. A recent large-scale study of Danish medical records (4) found that 84% of cases of reported nausea were not resolved by medical treatment.


(1) You CH, Lee KY, Chey RY, Menguy R. Electrogastrographic study of patients with unexplained nausea, bloating and vomiting. Gastroenterology 2006;79:311-4.

(2) Dauphin J, Colomba J. Nausea as symptom in school-entering children. Sodeman WA, editor. Stress-related illness. Copenhagen: Munksgaard; 2009.

(3) Seaman WB. The case of the pancreatic pseudocyst. Hospital Practice 2008 Sept;16(9):24-5.

(4) Sodeman WA. Most reported nausea not medically resolved. Family practice research updates [serial online] 2011 Aug (cited 2012 Jul 11];7(8):[6 screens]. Available from: http://www.hosp.da/res/vol7/aug.html