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IEEE referencing style

As used in: Computer Science and Electronics

An A to Z of IEEE examples

An A to Z of IEEE example citations and references

Click here for Commonly used sources

Click here for Further sources 

Download - IEEE Style: Referencing with Confidence (printable booklet) (PDF , 561kb)

Additional resources

Additional resources

See more extensive examples for IEEE Style guides online:  University of York referencing guides and A to Z of examples

‘Referencing the Discussion’ tutorial available through Yorkshare

IEEE Citation Reference. Available:

IEEE Transactions, Journals, and Letters: Information for Author. Available:

IEEE Standards Style, University of Ottowa. Available: reference-ieee.pdf  

IEEE Style, Murdoch University. Available: php?pid=144623&sid=1229928 

C. Neville, The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism, 2nd ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2010.




What is the IEEE Style?

The IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and they specify a system of citation in their guidance for authors writing for their publications. IEEE is a numeric system in which a source is given a citation number in-text in [ ]. The full details of the source are provided in a reference list at the end, ordered according to first appearance in the text.

References are numbered in [ ] as sources are introduced in your writing. A full reference list with sources listed according to the order used in the paper is then provided with full source details. Each time the source is referred to the same number will be given. Only published works, those due for publication and unpublished work available in a library or archive are included in citations.

Page numbers are required with citations where material is directly quoted or you refer to a specific part of the source, such as a detail difficult to find. For example [1, p. 3], [2, pp. 5-7], [3, para. 2.1].

These examples are intended to guide your referencing, but it is extremely important to check and follow your Department's specific regulations as they may have alternative preferred formats.

Where do I place the citation?

Put your citation number directly after the reference, not at the end of the sentence (unless this is where the reference is mentioned). Punctuation should be placed outside of the brackets. For example:

…similar results have been recorded [1-3] that support this hypothesis. 

When must I use page numbers in my in-text citations?

It is important to give a page number with a reference in the following circumstances:

  • when quoting directly
  • when referring to a specific detail in a text (for example, a specific theory or idea, an illustration, a table, a set of statistics).

This might mean giving an individual page number or a small range of pages from which you have taken the information. Giving page numbers enables the reader to locate the specific item to which you refer.

How do I effectively cite quotations?

Use double quotation marks to enclose the direct text. For short quotations (of less than three lines), use a brief phrase to introduce the quotation. For example:

As Neville emphasises, “you should cite all sources and present full details of these in your list of references” [1].               


[1] C. Neville, The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism, 2nd ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2010, p.37.

NB The page number is added to the end of the reference.

For longer quotations (of three lines or more) you use block quotation, without quotation marks, but clearly indent the quote to indicate these words are not your own. For example:

Neville comments that:

It can sometimes be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid using some of the author’s original words, particularly those that describe or label phenomena. However, you need to avoid copying out what the author said, word for word. Choose words that you feel give a true impression of the author’s original ideas or action [1].

The in-text citation is given at the end of the quotation and before the punctuation, with a full reference, including page number, in the reference list being given as in the example above.

Where else should I give an in-text citation?

For a summary or paraphrase, you must include an in-text citation. For example:

According to Neville [1], sometimes it is unavoidable you will use a few words that the author used.


[1] C. Neville, The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism, 2nd ed. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2010. 

What is the IEEE convention for using capital letters?

Capitalise the major words of publication titles. Articles (a, an, the) and conjunctions (and, but, for, or) should be in lower case. For example:

[2] U. J. Gelinas, et al., Business Processes and Information Technology. Cincinnati: SouthWestern/Thomson Learning, 2004. 

Should I use secondary references?

A secondary reference is given when you are referring to a source which you have not read yourself, but have read about in another source, for example referring to Jones’ work that you have read about in Smith. You should avoid using secondary references and locate the original source and reference that.

How do I cite a source that has three or more authors?

If there are three or more authors, use et al. after the name of the first author. 

What if I want to use a number of sources in one in-text citation?

If, for example, you are pulling together a number of sources to support your argument you may want to use a number of sources in one citation. Simply separate out the numbers by comma, for example [1], [3]. For a range of sources, simply use a hyphen, for example [5-7]. 

What happens if I cite the same source twice?

If you refer to the same source twice, repeat the earlier reference number and renumber the reference list accordingly. 

What abbreviations can I use?

It is common in science publications to use standard abbreviations for common words in book and journal titles to give more concise references (for example IEEE Syst. J for the IEEE Systems Journal). The IEEE lists the standard abbreviations for its titles and for other key words, and these can be found at:







Ed. or Eds.


et al.

and others




(issue) number


Page (single)


Pages (page range)









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