• 3-minute read
  • 29th March 2019

IEEE Referencing: What You Need to Know

IEEE referencing is used in engineering, electronics, telecommunications and computer science. And if you’re studying one of these subjects, you may be asked to use IEEE citations in your writing. But what exactly does this involve? Let us explain the basics of the IEEE referencing system.

1. What Is IEEE Referencing?

As the name suggests, IEEE referencing is a citation system recommended by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It is used in all IEEE journals, but it is also used by many universities and publications that focus on engineering or computing subjects. So if you have an interest in these subject areas, you may need to know IEEE referencing.

2. Basic IEEE Citations

IEEE citations comprise a number in square brackets in the main text of your document. This is typically given at the end of a clause or sentence:

There is a high chance of killer robots conquering humanity [1].

These numbers point to an entry in a reference list at the end of your document, which is where you provide full source information.

Sources are numbered in the order they’re first cited, so the example above would point to the first source in the reference list.

If you need to cite the same source more than once, moreover, simply use the same number as on the first citation.

3. Quoting Sources

To quote a source in IEEE referencing, place the quoted text within quote marks. In addition, you will need to give a page number in the citation alongside the source number. For instance:

The robots ‘harbour a terrible thirst for vengeance’ [2, p. 86].

Here, we’re quoting page 86 of the second source in the reference list.

4. Citations and Author Names

When you name the author of a source in the text, give the citation immediately afterwards:

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Dr. Banks [3] believes that the robots will inevitably triumph.

IEEE also allows you to use a citation in place of an author’s name:

According to [3], the robots will inevitably triumph.

This allows you to use the citation number as if it were a pronoun to replace the author’s name or the title of a study.

5. IEEE Reference Lists

Finally, every source in your document must appear in a reference list. This is where you give full publication information for everything you have cited.

The rules for an IEEE reference list are as follows:

  • Sources should be listed in the order you first cite them in your writing.
  • Italicise and use title case capitalisation (i.e. with the first letters of all major words, as well as the first word in titles and subtitles, capitalised) for titles of books, journals and other longer works.
  • Place titles of articles, book chapters and other short documents within quote marks and use sentence case capitalisation (i.e. only capitalising the first letter of the first words of title and subtitles, as well as proper nouns).
  • Use a small hanging indent for each line after the first in each entry.

The exact format for an entry in an IEEE reference list depends on the source type. However, we’ll include the basic format for a book below to give you a sense of what an entry should look like:

[#] INITIAL(S) Surname, Title. Place of publication: Publisher, year.

In practice, then, you would present a book in an IEEE reference list as follows:

[1] K. Capek, Why Killer Robots Will Consume Us All: An Optimistic Look at Future Engineering Challenges. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2002.

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