Citation Styles

Learn how to cite articles, books, reports, theses, legal documents, and more using citation styles like APA, Chicago, and IEEE.

Citation Styles by NPS Department/Program

Each of the following departments has a required or preferred citation style for theses, dissertations, capstone project reports, and final project reports. If you don't see your department or program listed below, then you are allowed to choose a recognized citation style or you will be directed to use a particular style by your advisor.
We recommend you check with your advisor at the thesis proposal stage.


Required or Preferred Citation Styles by Department or Program

Department or Program

Citation Style

Acquisition Research Program (ARP)
Center for Homeland Defense and Security
Cyber Systems and Operations (CSO/MACO)
IEEE preferred, but any recognized style will be accepted
Defense Analysis (DA)
Chicago (Notes & Bibliography) preferred, but any recognized style will be accepted
Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE)
Engineering (if not listed separately)
Graduate School of Business and Public Policy (GSBPP)
Human Systems Integration (HSI)
Information Sciences (IS)
APA preferred, but advisors may determine another citation style is necessary
Mechanical & Aerospace
Engineering (MAE)
Recognized citation style preferred by advisor.
Department prefers AIAA and ASME
Meteorology and Operational Oceanography (METOC)
National Security Affairs (NSA)
Operations Research (OR)
Some OR advisors require INFORMS
Systems Engineering (SE)
Chicago (Author-Date); IEEE if using LaTeX

Notes from the Thesis Processing Office

  • As the publisher of NPS theses, we review thesis citations for the following, in order of importance: 1) avoiding plagiarism, 2) providing complete source information, 3) complying with chosen citation style, and 4) demonstrating consistent citation formatting throughout your document.
  • When other citation styles are silent on how to properly cite a source, we normally defer to Chicago, which is the most complete of the established guides.
  • Citation management tools such as RefWorks and Zotero are useful when writing theses; they typically generate citations that are 80-90 percent correct, assuming users made no entry errors. We are developing user guides and FAQs for these tools. Remember to check citations for accuracy before including them in your work.
  • Do you have questions about which citation tool to use? Please visit the Citation Tools guide, or Ask a Librarian.

Notes from the Graduate Writing Center

  • Class Papers: If teaching faculty do not require a specific citation style for course papers, we strongly suggest that you practice using your department's or advisor's chosen thesis citation style while writing class papers. Such practice will make citing and citation formatting less daunting during the thesis process.
  • Citation and Attribution Guidance: The Thesis Processing Office website includes handouts to help students understand plagiarism and the rules and norms for citing sources.
  • Citation-Related Workshops: We offer two workshops related to incorporating others' work. Paraphrasing and Quoting Like a Pro and Joining the Academic Conversation provide tips, techniques, and practice on paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing sources that need citations. Learn more and sign up for these workshops.
  • Other Reference Materials: See our Writing Resources page > Style Guides section for links to these Terms and Abbreviations reference materials:
    • Common Military Acronyms (U.S. Army)
    • DOD Dictionary of Military Terms
    • Latin Terms and Abbreviations
    • Military Acronyms, Initialisms and Abbreviations

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