Academic Writing AdviceAcademic, Writing, Advice
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

IEEE Citation: A Quick Guide


The IEEE citation format is named for the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, an organization that supports several branches of engineering, information technology, and computer science. The organization has several publications in the form of journals, magazines, and conference proceedings, and it sets standards for several organizations. The IEEE style guide (pronounced "I-triple-E") is based on Chicago Style but is distinct in that it lists all details for citations exclusively at the end of the text. Many institutions in the technical field apply the IEEE style guide for written text and potential publications. Refer to the following guidelines and examples to apply IEEE citation style in your text.

In-text citations

Under IEEE format, sources are referred to through a text using numbers in brackets referring to references listed at the end of the text. Within a text, such a citation looks like this:

  • Several studies support this claim [4], [5], [13], [15].
  • According to Rosen [7], the program was a failure.

As you cite papers and other works, number them in order, with one reference per number, starting with [1]. The reference list at the end of your work is not listed alphabetically, but numerically according to the order in which the sources are introduced in the paper.

Referencing figures from a source

When you mention a text, instead of saying "based on reference [1]…," your text should read, "based on [1]…" Also, omit the author's name from text references with a number (i.e., "In Jones [1]") and instead write "in [1]." Similarly, you should leave out reference dates to identify your source. When referring to a figure, graph, or equation in a reference or to a specific page.

  • Use "in [4, Eq. 1]," not "in Eq. 1 of reference [4]."

In-text notes

Place footnotes or other notes you make about a source at the bottom of the page on which you referenced them, not on the reference list.

Figures and tables

List the first citations of figures and tables in the paper in numerical order.


When referring to figures in text, use the abbreviation "Fig." followed by the figure number (e.g., "Fig. 4"). Use this abbreviation even at the beginning of a sentence. Notes for figures are placed underneath as part of the caption. Each caption number is cited with "Fig." and the number, followed by the caption text, with a period at the end. Avoid using "A," "An," or "The" at the beginning of a figure or table caption.

  • Fig. 2. Observed energy levels in 2018.


Captions on tables are centered above the table with the label TABLE and the enumeration given in Roman numerals. Descriptive text is then centered directly below the table number caption and does not have a period at the end (although you can use punctuation within the caption if appropriate), as below.


Creating a reference list

Your reference list comes at the end of your paper and lists the full citations of the sources you cite in your text. Title the page "References," either centered or aligned left at the top. Your references will be listed with the bracketed number first, flush with the left side of the page.

  • [12] IEEE Criteria for Class IE Electric Systems, IEEE Standard 308, 1969.

Create hanging indents for each reference, as shown below. This creates a look of a numbered list for your references.

  • [38] L. Brown, A Radar History of World War II: Technical and Military Imperatives. London, U.K.: Institute of Physics, 1999.
  • [39] A. Lystrup, "The Healing Power of Dance in Relationships." US Sociology and Counseling., vol. 17, pp. 43-44, May 2020.

When citing multiple sections of one text, list the source as one listing, referencing all page numbers used. For each source, authors' names are cited the same way. Write the author's name with first and middle initials and last name. For example: Nathan Pulsipher Steed would be listed as N. P. Steed. Different types of sources then require different formats. The examples given below are from The University of Pittsburgh Library System.

Examples of citations for different materials:

Material TypeWorks Cited
Book in print[1] D. Sarunyagate, Ed., Lasers. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996.
Chapter in book[2] G. O. Young, "Synthetic structure of industrial plastics," in Plastics, 2nd ed., vol. 3, J. Peters, Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964, pp. 15-64.
eBook[3] L. Bass, P. Clements, and R. Kazman, Software Architecture in Practice, 2nd ed. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley, 2003. [E-book] Available: Safari e-book.
Journal article[4] G. Liu, K. Y. Lee, and H. F. Jordan, "TDM and TWDM de Bruijn networks and shufflenets for optical communications," IEEE Trans. Comp., vol. 46, pp. 695-701, June 1997.
eJournal (from database)[5] H. Ayasso and A. Mohammad-Djafari, "Joint NDT Image Restoration and Segmentation Using Gauss–Markov–Potts Prior Models and Variational Bayesian Computation," IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, vol. 19, no. 9, pp. 2265-77, 2010. [Online]. Available: IEEE Xplore, [Accessed Sept. 10, 2010].
eJournal (from internet)[6] A. Altun, "Understanding hypertext in the context of reading on the web: Language learners' experience," Current Issues in Education, vol. 6, no. 12, July, 2005. [Online serial]. Available: [Accessed Dec. 2, 2007].
Conference paper[7] L. Liu and H. Miao, "A specification based approach to testing polymorphic attributes," in Formal Methods and Software Engineering: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Formal Engineering Methods, ICFEM 2004, Seattle, WA, USA, November 8-12, 2004, J. Davies, W. Schulte, M. Barnett, Eds. Berlin: Springer, 2004. pp. 306-19.
Conference proceedings[8] T. J. van Weert and R. K. Munro, Eds., Informatics and the Digital Society: Social, ethical and cognitive issues: IFIP TC3/WG3.1&3.2 Open Conference on Social, Ethical and Cognitive Issues of Informatics and ICT, July 22-26, 2002, Dortmund, Germany. Boston: Kluwer Academic, 2003.
Newspaper article (from database)[9] J. Riley, "Call for new look at skilled migrants," The Australian, p. 35, May 31, 2005. [Online]. Available: Factiva, [Accessed May 31, 2005].
Technical report[10] K. E. Elliott and C.M. Greene, "A local adaptive protocol," Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, France, Tech. Rep. 916-1010-BB, 1997.
Patent[11] J. P. Wilkinson, "Nonlinear resonant circuit devices," U.S. Patent 3 624 125, Jul. 16, 1990.
Standard[12] IEEE Criteria for Class IE Electric Systems, IEEE Standard 308, 1969.
Thesis, Dissertation[13] J. O. Williams, "Narrow-band analyzer," Ph.D. dissertation, Dept. Elect. Eng., Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA, 1993.

These guidelines and examples give you an idea of how to cite sources within IEEE citation style. If you still have questions about your particular sources, there are many resources out there to help you. For further details on the grammar usage of terms and other text formatting for the body of your paper, consult the Chicago Manual of Style, or check out the following web sites for more information:

  • IEEE Editorial Style Manual: From the IEEE site itself, you can access an extensive reference for IEEE style in all aspects of the writing process. With 71 pages of information and a well-labeled Table of Contents, you are sure to find the answers to your questions about IEEE formatting.
  • How to Cite References: IEEE Documentation Style: This PDF gives you another run-down of IEEE citation style, giving many more examples from various text sources if you don't find what you need in the table above.
  • IEEE – Referencing Guide: Murdoch University provides this referencing guide for additional information and examples. It even offers further suggestions for sites to visit.
  • IEEE Referencing Style Sheet: This concise style sheet from the UK offers detailed instructions before also giving examples of citations following the IEEE guidelines.
  • IEEE Overview: A tried-and-true resource for style guides, Purdue University offers a clear guide for anyone who needs answers about listing references in an IEEE text. The site also offers an overview of its contents, so you can quickly find the topic you are looking for.

Header image by Umberto.

Get in-depth guidance delivered right to your inbox.