General formatting guidelines


  • If illustrations submitted have been published elsewhere, the author(s) should provide consent to republication obtained from the copyright holder.
  • Figures must be numbered in Arabic numerals and referred to in the text e.g. '(Fig. 1)'.
  • Each figure must have a caption/legend: Fig. 1. Description (any abbreviations in full).
  • All images must be of high enough resolution/quality for print.
  • All illustrations (graphs, diagrams, charts, etc.) must be in PDF or jpeg form.
  • Ensure all graph axes are labelled appropriately, with a heading/description and units (as necessary) indicated. Do not include decimal places if not necessary e.g. 0; 1.0; 2.0; 3.0; 4.0 etc.
  • Scans/photos showing a specific feature e.g. Intermediate magnification micrograph of a low malignant potential (LMP) mucinous ovarian tumour. (H&E stain). –include an arrow to show the tumour.
  • Each image must be attached individually as a 'supplementary file' upon submission (not solely embedded in the accompanying manuscript) and named Fig. 1, Fig. 2, etc.



  • Tables should be constructed carefully and simply for intelligible data representation. Unnecessarily complicated tables are strongly discouraged.
  • Large tables will generally not be accepted for publication in their entirety. Please consider shortening and using the text to highlight specific important sections, or offer a large table as an addendum to the publication, but available in full on request from the author
  • Embed/include each table in the manuscript Word file - do not provide separately as supplementary files.
  • Number each table in Arabic numerals (Table 1, Table 2, etc.) and refer to consecutively in the text.
  • Tables must be cell-based (i.e. not constructed with text boxes or tabs) and editable.
  • Ensure each table has a concise title and column headings, and include units where necessary.
  • Footnotes must be indicated with consecutive use of the following symbols: * † ‡ § ¶ || then ** †† ‡‡ etc.

Do not: Use [Enter] within a row to make ‘new rows’:


Each row of data must have its own proper row:

Do not: use separate columns for n and %:


Combine into one column, n (%):

Do not: have overlapping categories, e.g. 1 - 5; 5 - 10; 10 - 15:


Use <> symbols or numbers that don’t overlap. e.g. 1 - 4, 5 - 9, 10 - 14. 



NB: Only complete, correctly formatted reference lists in Vancouver style will be accepted. Reference lists must be generated manually and not with the use of reference manager software. Footnotes must not be used.

  • Authors must verify references from original sources.
  • Citations should be inserted in the text as superscript numbers between square brackets, e.g. These regulations are endorsed by the World Health Organization,[2] and others.[3,4-6]
  • All references should be listed at the end of the article in numerical order of appearance in the Vancouver style (not alphabetical order).
  • Approved abbreviations of journal titles must be used; see the List of Journals in Index Medicus.
  • Names and initials of all authors should be given; if there are more than six authors, the first three names should be given followed by et al.
  • Volume and issue numbers should be given.
  • First and last page, in full, should be given e.g.: 1215-1217 not 1215-17.
  • Wherever possible, references must be accompanied by a digital object identifier (DOI) link). Authors are encouraged to use the DOI lookup service offered by CrossRef:
    • On the Crossref homepage, paste the article title into the ‘Metadata search’ box.
    • Look for the correct, matching article in the list of results.
    • Click Actions > Cite
    • Alongside 'url =' copy the URL between { }.
    • Provide as follows, e.g.:


Some examples:

  • Journal references: Price NC, Jacobs NN, Roberts DA, et al. Importance of asking about glaucoma. Stat Med 1998;289(1):350-355.
  • Book references: Jeffcoate N. Principles of Gynaecology. 4th ed. London: Butterworth, 1975:96-101.
  • Chapter/section in a book: Weinstein L, Swartz MN. Pathogenic Properties of Invading Microorganisms. In: Sodeman WA, Sodeman WA, eds. Pathologic Physiology: Mechanisms of Disease. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1974:457-472.
  • Internet references: World Health Organization. The World Health Report 2002 - Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life. Geneva: WHO, 2002. (accessed 16 January 2010).
  • Legal references

•              Government Gazettes:

National Department of Health, South Africa. National Policy for Health Act, 1990 (Act No. 116 of 1990). Free primary health care services. Government Gazette No. 17507:1514. 1996.

In this example, 17507 is the Gazette Number. This is followed by :1514 - this is the notice number in this Gazette.

•              Provincial Gazettes:

Gauteng Province, South Africa; Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Environment and Land Affairs. Publication of the Gauteng health care waste management draft regulations. Gauteng Provincial Gazette No. 373:3003, 2003.

•              Acts:

South Africa. National Health Act No. 61 of 2003.

•              Regulations to an Act:

South Africa. National Health Act of 2003. Regulations: Rendering of clinical forensic medicine services. Government Gazette No. 35099, 2012. (Published under Government Notice R176).

•              Bills:

South Africa. Traditional Health Practitioners Bill, No. B66B-2003, 2006.

•              Green/white papers:

South Africa. Department of Health Green Paper: National Health Insurance in South Africa. 2011.

•              Case law:

Rex v Jopp and Another 1949 (4) SA 11 (N)

Rex v Jopp and Another:  Name of the parties concerned

1949: Date of decision (or when the case was heard)

(4): Volume number

SA: SA Law Reports

11: Page or section number

(N): In this case Natal - where the case was heard. Similarly, (C) woud indicate Cape, (G) Gauteng, and so on.

NOTE: no . after the v

  • Other references (e.g. reports) should follow the same format: Author(s). Title. Publisher place: Publisher name, year; pages.
  • Cited manuscripts that have been accepted but not yet published can be included as references followed by '(in press)'.
  • Unpublished observations and personal communications in the text must not appear in the reference list. The full name of the source person must be provided for personal communications e.g. '...(Prof. Michael Jones, personal communication)'.