Writing Expectations

NLM Formatting

The Department of Dental Hygiene uses NLM formatting (as do many other health fields) to cite their references, and all writing assignments will ask you to format your references to match NLM formatting standards. Below is a guide of how to format your citations appropriately.

In-Text Citations

  • Number your citations in the order they appear in your paper sequentially, not alphabetically.
  • Put the numbers corresponding to the sources in superscript at the end of the statement you want to cite outside of the period. You can also put the number in superscript within a sentence after a phrase in order to relate directly to that phrase. Appropriate examples would be:

It is recommended that eliminating active dental caries lesions and using agents such as chlorhexidene can reduce the Mutans streptococci reservoir in all of the infant’s caretakers.1

Vertical transmission is not the only means by which Mutans streptococci spreads in human populations,1 which may complicate intervention strategies for decreasing spread.

  • When you cite a reference that has been previously cited in the paper, do not re-number it, but use the same number used previously.
  • When you are citing more than one source in a statement, list numbers in numerical order separated by commas only (no spaces). Use an unspaced dash to join inclusive first and last numbers, e.g. (2,3,4,5,7,10) would be abbreviated to (2-5,7,10). 
  • If you want to write indirect citations where you refer to an author in a sentence, use this following guide.
    1. For one author, cite as (Arnett).
    2. For two authors, cite as (Drake & Stull).
    3. For three of more authors, cite as (Reibel et al).


  • List the citations on the reference page at the end of your paper in the order of appearance in the paper. 
  • Enter surnames first for each author, followed by a space then initials for first (and) middle names with no space between initials, followed by a period. For multiple authors, separate names from each other by a comma and a space between authors, and end author information with a period. 

Example: Selwitz RH, Ismail AI, Pitts NB. 

  • List the first three authors followed by et al. 

Example: Slayton RL, Urquhart O, Araujo MWB, et al. 

Format for the reference page is:

  1. Berkowitz RJ. Mutans Streptococci: Acquisition and Transmission. Pediatr Dent. 2006;28(2):106-9. 
  2. Selwitz RH, Ismail AI, Pitts NB. Dental caries. Lancet. 2007 Jan;369. 
  3. Slayton RL, Urquhart O, Araujo MWB, et al. Evidence-based clinical practice guideline on nonrestorative treatments for carious lesions. JADA. 2018 Oct;149(10):837-49
  4. Darby ML, Walsh MM, Bowen DM. Dental hygiene theory and practice. 4th ed. St. Louis (MO):Saunders, Elsevier; c2015. 1176 p.


The following examples show the structure of the reference for a journal article, a book, and a website.

Journal Article

WEC Example


WEC Example 2

Part of a Book

WEC Example 3


WEC Example 4

Other resources

If you need more information on NLM resources, here are some external resources: 

  1. Patrias K. Citing medicine: the NLM style guide for authors, editors, and publishers [Internet]. 2nd ed. Wendling DL, technical editor. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2007 - [updated 2015 Oct 2]. Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/citingmedicine  
  2. Citation and Writing: NLM Style [Internet]. Logan University; [updated 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://libguides.logan.edu/citation_styles