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IEEE Style Guide

Outline of the IEEE citation and reference style

IEEE Citation Style Overview

Style overview: common elements


Type Example
Use of en dash IEEE uses the en dash for a number of applications indicating numerical ranges such as page ranges, reference ranges, figure ranges to mention the most common uses. (The en dash – is available in the symbols font in MS Word program).  For other uses, please refer to the IEEE Editorial Style Manual p. 24.

In text references can include reference to specific page(s), especially if you wish to draw the reader's attention to a specific part of the work, for example a table, or where a quote comes from.  Also, specific page numbers may be included in the in text reference if you need to refer to the same source on a number of occasions. The reference list at end of the work may also include pagination details when you are citing references pertaining to part of a work within a work for example, a book chapter, or journal article.

For example: [5, p.12]

Citing a single page p.67
Citing range of pages pp. 67–73  Note: use en dash for page ranges.
Single author In Text Citation example: As Kahn noted [1]....
Reference list example: [1] J. M. Kahn, “Wireless infrared communications,” Proc. IEEE, vol. 85, pp. 265–298, 1997.
Two authors

In Text Citation example: Browne and Kleeman stated in [8] that....

Reference list example: [2] D.C. Browne and L. Kleeman, “An advanced sonar ring design with 48 channels of continuous echo processing using matched filters,” in Proc. IEEE/RSJ Int. Conf. Intell. Robots Syst., Oct. 2009, pp. 4040–4046.
Six or more authors

In Text Citation example: Use et al. for six or more authors in the in text reference.  For example: W. Shakespeare et al. described the various purposes of citing information in [9].

Reference list example:  However, the Reference list will list all the authors for example:

[3] W. Shakespeare, A. Rosencrantz, B. Guildenstern, C. Hamlet, D. Ophelia and E. Polonius, Shakespeare's Plays, Robots Performance and Audience Reactions and Interactions. Wellington, New Zealand: AI Publications, 2009.
Note even if there are many names provided for a given work, use them all.  Exception: use et al. in the reference list only if all the names are not supplied. p. 34, IEEE Editorial Style Manual.

Note:   There are some examples in IEEE where et al. is used in the reference list for three or more authors.  However, listing all the authors in the reference list makes it easier to find the correct reference. 

Corporate authors

Authors can be organisations, associations, government agencies, institutions or corporations, such as:

  • Ericcson
  • IEEE
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Monash University, Dept. of Elect. and Electron. Syst. Eng.
Single editor W. Dorset Ed.
Two editors  P. M. Anderson and A. Gray Eds.
Citing multiple sources in the one sentence

Multiple non consecutive references: To alleviate high computational cost, several papers attempt to solve the sensor scheduling problem by using uboptimal methods while giving reasonable results [1], [5], [8].

Multiple references - range: The sensor scheduling problem has extensively been studied in the past [1]–[5].

The above examples were taken verbatim from:

S. Maheswararajah, S. K. Halgamuge, and M. Premaratne. (2009, Mar.) Sensor scheduling for target tracking by suboptimal algorithms. IEEE Trans. Veh. Technol., [Online]. vol. 58(no. 3), pp. 1467-1479. Available:

The semicolon can be used to separate phrases as shown in example below:

Some students can inadvertently plagiarise by not understanding how to and when to reference as shown in studies by Sato [6], [7]; and surveyed in [10]–[12]; Smith et al. [14]

Citing the same source multiple times

IEEE doesn't use the terms "ibid" or "op cit" for referring to the same source more than once. The IEEE style references the work once, and then uses that same number throughout the body.

In text example: In text referencing of J-M. Redoute et al.

described in the direct power injection (DPI) specification [3]. ... This circuit is based on the series voltage regulator [4]. ... voltage regulators has been reported in [5], ... inherent to nonlinear circuits [6]. ... [7], and will be explained and elaborated ... [see Fig. 1(b)] according to the DPI measurement specification [3]. ... wanted output dc current [7]. ... In [7], a current mirror structure ...

This example has excerpts of phrases leading up to the numbered in text reference, just as they appear in the body of the journal article. The multiple references to a single source are highlighted in blue, numbers 3 and 7.

Reference list example: coresponding Reference list from J-M. Redoute et al.

List of references showing where reference [3] and [7] which appear once in the reference list, despite appearing multiple times in the body of the article.

This example shows the coresponding Reference list from J-M. Redoute et al., and demonstrates how references [3–7] appear. Note they appear only once in the reference list.

[For the full journal article depicted in Fig. 1-2 see J.-M. Redoute, C. Walravens, S. Van Winckel, M. Steyaert, "An externally trimmed integrated DC current regulator insensitive to conducted EMI,IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 63-70, Feb. 2008.]


Citing a source within a source






Citing a source within a source, sometimes referred to citing a secondary source.

In some referencing styles, such as author/date the writer would acknowledge the original work in the intext citation.

For example: Anderson and Gray's study of the auditory perception of pitch in the voice (as cited in Mcardle, 1985) proved...

However, IEEE requires the writer to go to the original source and cite the original source.
We will demonstrate the system used in IEEE with the following scenario:

Andy is doing some research on how robots 'perceive' sensory information in military applications. He is currently looking at how dung beetles smell, and how he would mimic the process in robotics. He finds some information in a 2009 book by Scholz, Davis and Kryger that cites research by Larson and Forsyth describing the process of how dung beetles smell. The Larson and Forsyth work is published in a 2005 journal article as shown in fig.1.

Image shows secondary reference by Sholtz et al. and the original source by Larsen and Forsyth

Fig. 1. Secondary and original references

Instead of citing the 2009 book that describes how dung beetles smell as cited in a 2005 journal article, Andy will use the IEEE method of citing the original work. So Andy cites the 2005  journal article that conducted the research on how these insects smell.

Andy's reference will look like this: 

[1] T. H. Larsen and A. Forsyth, “Trap spacing and transect design for dung beetle biodiversity studies,” Biotropica, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 322-325, 2005.

Naturally, if Andy gleans more information from the 2009 book that he wishes to write about next, then Andy would cite the 2009 book next. His reference list will now look like this:

[1] T. H. Larsen and A. Forsyth, “Trap spacing and transect design for dung beetle biodiversity studies,” Biotropica, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 322-325, 2005.
[2] C. Scholtz, A. Davis and U. Kryger, Evolutionary Biology and Conservation of Dung Beetles. Sofia-Moscow: Pensoft Publishers, 2009

On the other hand, if Andy uses the information from the original 2005 article, but is not interested in the rest of the 2009 book, he will not reference it at all. The IEEE reference list, includes only works used to develop the research output, not all works consulted.

(Other referencing styles, not IEEE, require works consulted, but not used directly, go into a bibliography.)