Reference List: Patents

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Basic Guidelines for Citing Patents

Note: The basic guidelines below are modeled on Citing Medicine, 2nd Ed. For a full list of citation rules, consult Chapter 7: Patents in Citing Medicine, 2nd Ed.


  • Enter inventor’s surname followed by no more than 2 initials (e.g. Smith JD)
  • List all names of inventors, regardless of the number
  • List names in the order they appear in the text
  • Separate each author name by a comma and a space


  • List the name of the assignee in the order they appear in the text
  • Enter assignee’s surname followed by no more than 2 initials (e.g. Smith JD)
  • Give the name of an organization as it appears on the title page of the patent
  • Give all assignee, regardless of the number
  • Follow the last named assignee with a comma and the word “assignee”

Title for Patents

  • Enter the title of a patent as it appears in the original document
  • Capitalize only the first word of a title, proper nouns, proper adjectives, acronyms, and initialisms

Patent Country

  • Name the country issuing the patent

Document Type

  • Use whatever specific document type is found on the publication
  • For US patents, use the word “patent”

Patent Number

  • Record the patent number as it appears on the publication

Date issued for Patents

  • Use the following format: YYYY MM DD
  • Abbreviate months to the first three letters (e.g. January becomes Jan)

Citation Examples

1. Inventor AA, Inventor BB, inventors; Assignee name, assignee. Title. Patent country Document type Country code Patent Number. YYYY MMM DD.


2. Zhao Y, Hu Y, Williams M, Dyakonov T, Gosangari S, Yanh C, Van Duijnhoven GM, Piest M, Fatmi AA, inventors; Patheon Softgels Inc., assignee. Liquisoft Capsules. Canadian patent CA 2980165. 2017 Sep 18.

3. Myers K, Nguyen C, inventors; 3F Therapeutics, Inc., assignee. Prosthetic heart valve. United States patent US 6,911,043. 2005 Jun 28.

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; cited 2019 Mar 1]. Available from:
Content last reviewed: February 20, 2019