Citation Styles

How often do I cite?

  • Remember: one citation at the end of a string of sentences or a paragraph cannot “cover” the entire section.
  • Cite a source the first time it is used in each paragraph.
  • Every sentence thereafter in the paragraph that uses information from this same source must contain either a signal phrase or a citation clearly indicating where the information came from.
    • Note: always use a citation (even if you also use a signal phrase) every time you quote material.

Citation Placement in Text

Citation Order

  • IEEE strongly prefers that bracketed in-text citations appear sequentially, beginning with [1], within the body of the text; it does not matter in what order they appear in the List of Tables and the List of Figures.


Where in the sentence does my bracketed citation go?

  • If you name your source(s) in a given sentence, a bracketed citation follows immediately after mentioning the source. Example: Rejecting Abbott and Costello’s method [1], Laurel and Hardy [2] propose an altogether different model for optimizing hat density.
  • Bracketed citations can also be treated as source names themselves. Example: In contrast to [1], [2] proposes an altogether different model.
    • Note: Do not, however, begin a sentence with a bracketed citation.
  • Otherwise, bracketed citations are placed at the end of the phrase [3] or sentence they cover [4], inside the punctuation, like this [5].
    • If the sentence ends with a quotation, "close the quote, then place the citation between the quotation marks and the punctuation, like this” [6].
  • Do not insert spaces between a bracketed citation and the punctuation that follows it.

In the paragraph below, citations are highlighted in yellow and signal phrases are in blue. Note that the second sentence is common knowledge, whereas the final sentence is clearly the opinion of the author.

Smith’s study [1] indicates that red and yellow are the best colors with which to decorate your restaurant because they induce feelings of hunger. Consider popular fast-food chains, which often use red and yellow in their advertising and décor. According to Smith’s study, restaurant customers felt more energized in red and yellow environments, which encouraged them to order more food. The same study explained that patrons felt relaxed in blue and purple environments, which encouraged them to “spend more time considering the menu options and eat at a slower pace.” Although other hospitality research suggests blue décor can give your restaurant a casual, laid-back atmosphere [2]Smith believes it encourages patrons to linger at their tables without ordering additional food or beverages. Accordingly, it is difficult to identify a popular chain restaurant that decorates with calmer hues.


For more information, see the TPO's Citing Responsibly in IEEE.

Difference between List of References and a Bibliography

  • A List of References includes all works cited in a text
  • A Bibliography lists all works cited and consulted

For papers, check with your professors for their preference. Thesis Processing prefers a List of References for the following: 

  • Thesis
  • Capstone project report
  • MBA report
  • Dissertation

Formatted List of References / Bibliography

Multiple Sources Bracketing Format

Correct format: [23], [34], [77]

Incorrect format: [23, 34, 77]

Missing Info

If any information is missing from a source (a journal with no volume number, for example), simply omit that information. For sources consulted in hardcopy, omit the URL and any additional verbiage that introduces it. Anything retrieved online, however, MUST have a link. The only exception is journals retrieved from a subscription database such as ProQuest. 


Title Case: To Capitalize or Not: A Brief Tutorial


Sentence case: To capitalize or not: A brief tutorial

Note: Always format the information in your citations (titles, author names, etc.) according to the requirements of the citation style you are using, regardless of how it appears in the original source.

When do I need to add page numbers?

It is not necessary to include page numbers in bracketed citations.

For a portion in a book, journal, or other volume, include page-number range in List of References/Bibliography.

Example: [7] P. Haynes, “Al-Qaeda, oil dependence, and U.S. foreign policy,” in Energy Security and Global Politics: The Militarization of Resource Management, D. Moran and J. A. Russell, Eds. New York, NY, USA: Routledge, 2009, pp. 62–74.


  • Include a retrieval date if the source material has no date.
  • Do not add a period at the end of the URL.
  • A URL does not belong in an in text-citation. Ever.

Et al.

  • For seven or more authors, use the first author's name plus et al. in the List of References.
    • Exception: ECE does not allow the use of et al. in thesis or dissertation List of References.

Author Names

Do not include honorifics (Dr., Col., Professor, etc.) when citing author names.

Secondary Sources

A secondary source is a source that cites some other work that you discuss in your text.

Whenever possible, consult primary sources and your sources’ sources yourself. Upon investigating the primary source, you may find you disagree with the secondary source author’s analysis or methods. Only use secondary sources when the primary source is unavailable.

How to Incorporate Secondary Sources

The following passage incorporates a properly credited secondary source. The secondary source information is highlighted in yellow; the primary source information is highlighted in blue.

Walker describes data collected in 1999 by Miguel Roig that correlates students’ inadequate paraphrasing to poor reading comprehension. Citing Roig’s data, Walker explains that “students do in fact possess skills necessary for paraphrasing but … may be impeded from applying those skills when dealing with rigorous text” [1].

Note: Include  only  the  secondary  source  (the  source  you  consulted)  in  your  reference  list.