• 3-minute read
  • 14th September 2018

5 Things You Need to Know About IEEE Referencing

If you’re studying engineering, you will almost certainly need to use IEEE referencing at some point. But what exactly is this? And how do you use it in your own writing? Read on, and we’ll run you through all the basics of IEEE referencing and citations.

1. What Is IEEE Referencing?

As the name suggests, IEEE referencing is the referencing system recommended by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It is used in all of the IEEE’s own journals, but many colleges and schools that focus on engineering or computing subjects also use it.

If you have an interest in these subjects, you may therefore need to understand IEEE referencing.

2. Basic IEEE Citations

IEEE citations involve giving a number in square brackets within the text of your document, typically at the end of the sentence, when you want to cite a source. For example:

The chance of killer robots conquering humanity is very high [1].

These numbered citations point to an entry in a reference list at the end of your document, where you should provide full source information.

Sources are numbered in the order they are cited in your work, so the example above is a citation for 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 and make sure to give a page number in the citation as well as a source number. For instance:

The robots are said to “harbor a terrible thirst for vengeance” [2, p. 86].

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

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4. Citations and Author Names

When the author of a source is named in the text, give the citation immediately afterwards:

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

IEEE is also unusual in that you can use a citation in place of an author’s name. For example, here we use the citation number as if it were a pronoun:

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

5. IEEE Reference Lists

Finally, every source in your document must also appear in the reference list. This is where you give full publication information for everything you have cited. The rules here are as follows:

  • Sources should be listed in the order they are first cited in your writing
  • Titles of books and journals should be italicized and use title case capitalization (i.e., with the first letters of all major words, as well as the first word in titles and subtitles, capitalized)
  • Titles of articles, book chapters, and other shorter documents should be placed in quotation marks and use sentence case capitalization (i.e., only capitalizing the first letter of the first words of title and subtitles, plus any proper nouns that would usually take a capital letter)
  • Use a hanging indent (roughly a quarter inch) for each line after the first

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 list a book like this:

[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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