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National Library of Medicine Citation Style: Citation Generators

This guide explains and shows examples of how to cite varied resources in the NLM style

Introducing Citation Generators

How to automate citation formatting  

Citation Generators

  • free, and easy to use 
  • the latest tools harvest data for the citation, instead of requiring data entry into an online form
  • output styles are limited to the most common

Tools in Databases 

Reference Management Software

  • free or premium services are available
  • easy to use after investment in learning to use the software
  • automated input or harvesting of citation information
  • accepts batch import of complete citation information, including abstracts
  • many styles for output
  • typically provides free and premium storage options for documents linked to citations
  • may have added features such as adding notes to stored documents
  • TIP:  essential for researchers and authors


When to Use Database Tools to Copy & Paste

Most databases offer citation export in at least two ways
  1. plain text citations for Copy & Paste
  2. data files suitable for importing into reference management software   

TIP: Copy & Paste is useful for assignments.  However,  even a mildly prolific author will prefer to use reference management software.  Anyone who collects journal articles, websites, and other sources to support their education and practice should invest in learning to use free or commercial software.

Even when NLM or Vancouver is an option, the citation may require editing, especially for online resources.  Something is better than nothing in this case, because all the necessary elements of a complete citation will be included.  Use NLM Examples tab as a guide.

Below are steps for formatting a plain text citation using tools from major research databases.

PubMed - Copy & Paste

If a journal article is indexed in PubMed
  1. Search and select the article
  2. Use the Format pull-down menu to change to Summary Text
  3. Copy & paste into your reference list
  4. Clean up the citation
    • remove line breaks
    • change title words to lower case, except the first word and proper nouns
    • delete unnecessary elements (PubMed ID is not part of a standard citation)

TIP:  In the middle of PubMed's landing page, look under PubMed Tools to find Single Citation Matcher.  If you have a paper in hand,  you can quickly find out if it was indexed in PubMed.  Keep input simple.  You only enter enough unique elements to locate the article.

Google Scholar - Copy & Paste

Google Scholar links to various publication types -- not only journal articles
  1. Search for the article
  2. Click the large quote character  (") beneath the resource
  3. Copy and paste the formatted citation.  Vancouver style is available and similar to NLM style.

Index to Chiropractic Literature - Copy & Paste

ICL generates clean citations in NLM style

It contains only journal articles from chiropractic publishers.

  1. Search the index
  2. Select the article
  3. Click Download button, leaving radio button set to default Text (Citation)
  4. Open the resulting file
  5. Copy & paste citation into your document, noting that ICL ID number is not part of a standard citation.

EbscoHost Databases - Copy & Paste

EbscoHost Databases have a Cite tool

Output sometimes varies from the standard, but all necessary elements are available.

  1. Search for the journal article
  2. Click the linked title to view the detailed record
  3. In detailed record view, see the Tools menu on the right and click Cite 
  4. Copy & paste the version labeled Vancouver/ICMJE
  5. Compare the citation to NLM Examples and edit as needed

OCLC Worldcat - Copy & Paste

OCLC Worldcat provides citation information for books, audiovisuals and other media.
  1. Search using its flexible options
    • for books, use the ISBN number as quickest search method
  2. Click on the title of interest to display its details
  3. Click Cite/Export
  4. Choose APA because its elements are closest to NLM style which is not available here.
  5. Compare the citation to NLM Examples and edit as needed

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