Writing Expectations

NLM Formatting

The Division 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 chlorhexidine 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 the following as a guide.
    1. For one author, cite as (Arnett).
    2. For two authors, cite as (Drake and Stull).
    3. For three or more authors, cite as (Reibel et al).

Reference Page Format

  • 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: Stull C, Freese R, Sarvas E.

  • List the first three authors followed by et al. 

Example: Blue C, Arnett M, Ephrem H, et al. 

Format for the references page is:

  1. Stull C, Freese R, Sarvas E. Parent perceptions of dental care providers’ role in human papillomavirus prevention and vaccine advocacy. J Am Dent Assoc. 2020 Aug;151(8):560–7.
  2. Blue C, Arnett M, Ephrem H, et al. Using motivational interviewing to reduce parental risk related behaviors for early childhood caries: a pilot study. BMC Oral Health. 2020 Mar 29;20(1):90
  3. Wang CW, Ashnagar S, Di Gianflippo R, et al. Laser-assisted regenerative surgical therapy for peri-implantitis: a randomized controlled clinical trial. J Periodontol. 2020 Aug 6. doi: 10.1002/JPER.20-0040. Online ahead of print.
  4. Tattan M, Sinhab K, Lee E, et al. Ultrasonography for chairside evaluation of periodontal structures: a human pilot study. J Periodontol. 2020 Jul;91(7):890-99.

NLM Internet Citations

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

  1. Patrias K, author; Wendling D, editor. Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers [Internet]. 2nd edition. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2007-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7256/
  2. Citation & Writing: NLM Style [Internet]. Logan University Library Research Guides. Logan University; [updated 2020 Nov 5]. Available from: https://libguides.logan.edu/c.php?g=181929&p=1198376



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

Journal Article

Book Graphic

Part of a book graphic

Website graphic

Part of a website graphic