A comprehensive guide on IEEE referencing

Published by at November 4th, 2021 , Revised On November 26, 2021

What is IEEE referencing?

IEEE stands for The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). it’s a referencing style commonly used in technical writing, especially computer science. IEEE referencing style is based on Chicago referencing style. In IEEE referencing, citations are numbered [1] in the order of their appearance in the manuscript.

Such numbered citations direct the reader to a complete reference list at the end of the manuscript, where all the referenced sources are mentioned. Once a source is cited in the text using a number, the same number is re-used for all subsequent citations belonging to the same source.

General guidelines for IEEE referencing style

The style of referencing in IEEE follows certain rules, which are summed up below:

  1. References are never combined.
  2. References only include the most relevant information.
  3. Reference numbers are written on the left in the reference list; enclosed in square brackets.
  4. There should only be one reference with the same number.
  5. The author/editor surname is written with abbreviated initials following it.
  6. Commas are used with abbreviated titles, such as Sr., Jr., etc. and III used in names, when applicable.
  7. All IEEE publications’ authors are to be listed (up to six). In the case of more than six authors for a single source, et al. is written after the primary author’s name.
  8. All reference entries are ended with a period, except those ending with URLs or DOIs.
  9. In case a reference entry includes both a DOI or date accessed and a URL, the URL is written first, followed by the DOI and ended with a period. place the DOI after the URL and end with a period.
  10. If the issue number or month is unavailable while referencing IEEE transactions, research IEEEXplore to cite the updated information.
  11. If two different months are being cited in the same reference, for the same source, they are separated by a / in between (e.g., Nov./Dec.), followed by the year of publication.
  12. Certain terms like an abstract (Abstr.), analysis (Anal.), bulletin (Bullet), computational (Comput.), publisher and periodical titles, etc. are always abbreviated in IEEE reference list citations.

Specific guidelines for referencing online sources in IEEE style

When it comes to citing online sources containing URLs and/or DOIs, IEEE referencing follows a slightly different pattern than, say, APA. The general format for a time a URL/DOI was accessed is as follows:

Accessed: Abbrev. month and day, year.

Key point to remember: The format in which the accessed date within a reference is written has to match the format given in the final submitted version of a manuscript.

However, there are other formats in IEEE referencing for writing date accessed, too, such as:

  • URL (no period in the end)·
  • (no accessed date), DOI (add period in the end unless it’s a hyperlink).
  • Accessed date. [Online]. Available: URL, DOI (add period in the end).
  • Accessed date, DOI (add period in the end).
  • Accessed date. [Online]. Available: URL (no period in the end)
  • URL, DOI (add period in the end).

Guidelines for Citing URLs in IEEE Style

While citing online URLs in IEEE referencing, some specific guidelines are to be followed, such as:

  1. Space is added after a slash or double slash.
  2. Space is added before the hyphen if it is part of an address.
  3. Different parts of an address are not broken with spaces or hyphens.
  4. Space is added before these elements present in a URL: a question mark, a hyphen, a tilde (~), a percent (%) symbol, or an underscore (_).
  5. Space is added either before or after an ‘equal to’ sign, an ampersand, or the ‘at’ (@) symbol).

Use of Abbreviations in IEEE Referencing

IEEE referencing makes use of abbreviates wherever necessary. It puts perhaps way more emphasis on using abbreviations than other formatting styles do.

Tip: A complete list of terms, periodical titles, publishers and other categories (from A to Z) alongside their abbreviations has been published by the official IEEE referencing page. Authors can easily use it for guidance while writing abbreviations where needed.

As mentioned above in general IEEE referencing guidelines, terms are abbreviated in IEEE style. However, there are more categories of things that are to be abbreviated in this specific style of referencing. They are as follows:

  1. Abbreviations for commonly used words, for instance:
Words Abbreviations
Archive(s) Arch.
British Brit.
History Hist.
Imaging Imag. Imag.
Quality Qual.


  1. Abbreviations for publishers, for instance:
  • Abelard-Schuman (Ltd.), New York, NY, USA
  • Julian (Press, Inc.), New York, NY, USA
  • Kluwer (Academic), Norwell, MA, USA (also, Boston, MA, USA)
  • (The C. V.) Mosby (Co.), St. Louis, MO, USA

Key point to remember: In IEEE referencing, the text within the parentheses following publisher name is not written. Here, it is used just to represent the domain the publishers publish in (academic, press, etc).

  1. Abbreviations for periodicals with non-English titles, for instance:
  • Serbe Sci. Arts Glas Cl. Sci. Tech.
  • Elektrodin
  • Angew. Math. Mech.

Common formatting items with IEEE referencing with examples

  1. Books

Basic format: Author surname and initials, “title of the chapter in the book,” in the title of the published book, xth ed. The City of Publisher, (only U.S. State), Country: Abbrev. of Publisher, year, ch. x, sec. x, pp. xxx–xxx.

Example: Burroway, J, “Image and Imagination,” in Imaginative Writing, vol. 3, Pearson, CA, USA: Academic, 2013, pp. 16–19.

  1. Conferences paper

Basic format: Author surname and initials, “Title of paper,” presented at the Abbreviated Name of Conf., The city of Conf., Abbrev. State, Country, Month and day(s), year, Paper number.

Example: D. Caratelli, M. C. Viganó, G. Toso, and P. Angeletti, “Analytical placement technique for sparse arrays,”

presented at the 32nd ESA Antenna Workshop, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, Oct. 5–8, 2010.

  1. Online course

Basic format: Name of University. (Year). Title of course. [Online]. Available: URL

Example: Argosy University Online. (2012). Information literacy and communication. [Online]. Available: http://www.myeclassonline.com

  1. Online datasets

Basic format: Author surname and initials, “Title.” (Date, Year). Distributed by Publisher/Distributor. http://url.com (or if DOI is used, end

with a period)

Example: S. Ansolabehere, M. Palmer, and A. Lee. “Precinct-level election data. V1.” January 20, 2014. Distributed by Harvard Election Data Archive. http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/21919 UNF:5:5C9UfGjdLy2ONVPtgr45qA==

  1. Online lectures

Basic format: University name. (year). Title of lecture. [Type of Medium]. Available: URL

Example: Argosy University Online. (2012). Information literacy and communication. [Online]. Available: http://www.myeclassonline.com

  1. Manuals/Software

Basic format: Author surname and initials (or Abbrev. Name of Co., City of Co. Abbrev. State, Country). Name of Manual/Handbook, x ed. (year). Accessed: Date. [Online]. Available: http://www.url.com

Example: L. Breimann. Manual on Setting Up, Using, and Understanding Random Forests v4.0. (2003). Accessed: Apr. 16, 2014. [Online]. Available: http://oz.berkeley.edu/users/breiman/Using_random_forests_v4.0.pdf

  1. YouTube video

Basic format: Video owner/Creator, Location (if available). Title of Video: In Initial Caps. (Release Date). Accessed: Month Day, Year. [Online Video]. Available: http://URL.onlinevideo.org

Example: mtaOnline1, Fazi Mosque, U.K. An Occasionally Accurate History of Australia: Part I. (Oct. 23, 2006). Accessed: (Oct. 6, 2010). [Online Video]. Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJjNsCVHc34

  1. Online journals

Basic format: Name(s) of Ed(s)., “Title of Issue,” in Title of Journal, Abbrev. month year. [Online]. Available: URL

Example: J. Smith, T. Jones, and B. Simpson, Eds., “IEEE Biometrics Compendium Issue 30 December 2017,” in IEEE Biometrics Compendium, Dec. 2017. [Online]. Available: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/virtual-journals/biocomp/issue/30/

  1. Online reports

Basic format: Author surname and initials, “Title of report,” Company, City, State, Country, Rep. no., (optional: vol./issue), Date. Accessed:

Date. [Online]. Available: site/path/file

Example: R. J. Hijmans and J. van Etten, “Raster: Geographic analysis and modeling with raster data,” R Package Version 2.0-12, Jan. 12, 2012. [Online]. Available: http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=raster

  1. Online dissertations/thesis

Basic formats: Author surname and initials, “Title of thesis,” M.S. thesis, Abbrev. Dept., Abbrev. Univ., The city of Univ., Abbrev. State, Country, year. [Online]. Available: http://www.url.com


Author surname and initials, “Title of dissertation,” Ph.D. dissertation, Abbrev. Dept., Abbrev. Univ., The city of Univ., Abbrev. State, Country, year. [Online]. Available: http://www.url.com

Example: F. Jensen, “Electromagnetic near-field far-field correlations,” Ph.D. dissertation, Dept. Elect. Eng., Tech. Univ. Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark, 1970. [Online]. Available: www.tud.ed/jensen/diss

  1. Online government (U.S.) documents

Basic format: Legislative body. Number of Congress, Session. (year, month day). The number of bills or resolution, Title. [Type of medium]. Available: site/path/file

Example: U.S. House. 102nd Congress, 1st Session. (1991, Jan. 11). H. Con. Res. 1, Sense of the Congress on Approval of Military Action. [Online]. Available: LEXIS Library: GENFED File: BILLS

  1. Websites

Basic format: First Name Initial(s) Last Name. “Page Title.” Website Title. Web Address (retrieved Date Accessed).

Example: J. Smith. “Obama inaugurated as President.” CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/POLITICS/01/21/obama_inaugurated/index.html (accessed Feb. 1, 2009).

Things to keep in mind while citing websites in IEEE referencing:

  • The primary or firth author’s name is written with initials first, followed by surname and a period.
  • Any titles the author has, such as Junior., are not written with the name. Instead, a suffix, like a Roman numeral or Jr./Sr., is written with the author’s name, with a comma coming before the abbreviation/numeral.
  • If a website with more than one author is being referenced, the names are cited in the order they appear on the website, separated by commas. For a page with two or more authors, list them in the order they appear on the website.
  • In case an informal website is being referenced, such as a home page, a fan website, or a website without an official, formal title, descriptive phrases are used in place of the site or page title, such as ‘page containing fan-made graphic art for The Simpsons.’
  1. Online images or other artwork

Basic format: Creator surname, “Title of artwork,” Date of Artwork, Title of Website. City, State, Country: Publisher, Month Day, Year. [Online]. Available: URL or Database Name, Accessed on: Month Day Year.

Example: J. M. W. Turner, “Norham castle, sunrise,” c. 1845, Tate. Tate, London, UK. [Online]. Available: https://tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-norham-castle-sunrise-n01981, Accessed on: Dec. 12, 2017.

Note: IEEE referencing doesn’t contain any specific guidelines for citing images/other artwork, but certain rules have to be kept in mind while citing images in IEEE style.