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Developing good academic practice
Developing good academic practice

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5.3 Numerical referencing

Another convention for citing references in your main text is to use either numbers in square brackets or superscripts, where the numbering starts at the beginning of the report and increases sequentially throughout. These would appear as reference [1] or reference1. Each number must refer uniquely to a given source, detailed in a list collected together at the end of the review, under the heading ‘References’.

The following example shows a book, a journal article and a website collected together in the same numerical reference list.


  1. A.N. Importantscientist, My Favourite Topic, 2002, Rich and Richer, USA, ch. 11, p. 349.
  2. The Society of Biophysicochemical Geologists. Work I couldn’t get published until now [online]. Available from: publications/ lessreliable.html [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (Accessed 1 April 2009).
  3. A. Scientist and A.N. Otherscientist, ‘Really interesting science: honestly’, J. Irrep. Res., 2002, 15, p. 374.