How to Cite IEEE in Your Paper : a Complete Guide from Flowcite

If you are a student, academic, or professional researcher, you understand the importance of citations when drafting your articles. Keeping track of all the numbers, formatting, and your reference list might be intimidating, but thankfully the guidelines are clear once you understand them.

As you may already know, it’s important your research is presented correctly, because improper citing can be misconstrued as unintentional plagiarism—a serious concern. If that happens, you’re likely to receive a failing grade, be in breach of academic codes of ethics, or risk damaging your reputation. 

Additionally, giving proper credit to the authors and ideas you used, citing your sources accurately, and organising your drafts professionally will increase your chances of publication. Since publication is the goal at the end of the day, we’re here to help you understand the different styles out there and boost your chances of success when it comes time to submit your paper for publishing. 

Today we’ll address one of the five major formats: the IEEE citation style

What is IEEE Style

Founded in 1884, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) was formed to support the many branches of engineering, computer science, and information technology. To this day, the IEEE continues to be a global society for engineers, scientists, and other professionals across the globe. 

Today, it is the world’s largest technical professional organisation involved in advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Members of the organisation come from a variety of backgrounds, such as computer and software development industries, as well as the fields of physics and medicine.

In terms of usage, authors publish with IEEE to establish themselves as innovative thinkers and increase their visibility within the industry and academia. The organisation’s comprehensive selection of approximately 200 IEEE transactions, journals, magazines, and more than 1,900 conferences around the world allow authors to publish in a forum that recognises and advances their work globally. 

The IEEE citation style is primarily used in the following fields: 

  • Electronics
  • Engineering
  • Telecommunications
  • Computer Science
  • Information Technology 

Like all other referencing styles, IEEE style has many do’s and don’ts when citing another author’s work. If you’re in one of the fields mentioned above, then you’ll want to abide by the specific IEEE style formatting rules we address below when writing your articles.

How to cite sources in IEEE Style 

To give an overview, IEEE style is a numbered referencing style that uses citation numbers within the paper. These numbers are placed between square brackets and written in the same line as the idea or text that cites another author’s work.


Here’s how you can apply IEEE citation formats to your paper: 

In-Text Citation

IEEE citation format in-text citations do not require mentioning of the author’s name, pages used, or publication date. Instead, the style requires that you refer to the source with a number in a square bracket, corresponding to its full citation in your reference list.

These are the general rules for in-text citations in the IEEE style

  • Place the bracketed citation after the text, before any punctuation. Ensure that there is a space before the first bracket. 
  • Number your sources in the order of which they appear in your paper. Once you refer to a source and give it a number, continue using that number whenever you cite them again in the paper.
  • Use the reference numbers either as a noun or a footnote. When used as a footnote, you can directly write “in [1]” within the sentence, instead of saying “in reference [1].”
  • When citing multiple sources at once, list each number separately with their brackets. You can use either a comma or a hyphen between the numbers.

Here are examples for you to see it in action:

Description In-Text Citation
Used as a noun “Humans desire advanced technology [1], and thus…”
Functions as a footnote “As established in [1], humans desire advanced technology.” 
Citing multiple sources using commas “The languages developed by AIs in many studies [2], [3]…” 
Citing multiple sources using a hyphen “According to [4] and [7]-[9], the AI languages are…” 


Citing Authors 

When citing authors within your paper, write the author’s last name followed by the bracketed citation. Here are a couple of examples to see how IEEE style applies to citing different authors:

Description Citing Authors
One author “Griffin [5] found that rockets…”
Two authors “Collins and Murphy [7] stated that…”
More than three authors  “Reyes et  al. [10] suggested that humans must immediately move to colonise Mars…” 


Additionally, it’s important to remember that you should mention the author of a source (or provide the date of publication) only when it is essential in providing context for the paper:

Description Citing Authors
Author’s name is necessary “Kane [8] proposed…”
Author’s name is unnecessary “in Kane [8]” should instead be “in [8]”



Direct quotes are essential to support an argument, as it shows that an author’s exact words and phrases are being used as they appeared in the original source. In the IEEE citation format, you enclose quotes in double quotation marks, followed by the numbered citation in square brackets, along with the page number(s). 

There are two types of quotations, however: short direct quotes, and longer direct quotes, each of which follow a different set of rules when citing IEEE style.

Short Direct Quote

A short direct quote contains no more than four lines of the quoted material. 

Here are two examples of a short direct quote in the IEEE citation style:

  • In fact, Bland et al [12, p. 74] suggested that “Mars exploration has allowed us to gain an understanding of the basic physical properties of the planet.”
  • Ang [13, p. 4] noted that “even advanced AI programmes can’t have emotions like humans.” 

Longer Direct Quote

In instances where you are using a direct quote of three lines and more, take note of the following: 

  • Use block quotations by setting the block of quoted text as its own paragraph.
  • Use a smaller font size for block quotations.
  • Indent the block quotation from both margins.
  • Provide the in-text citation after the quote, along with the page number(s) of the original source.

This is how it should look within your paper:

As Richardson notes: 

A 2003 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more than 53 million American adults or 44% of adult Internet users had used the Internet to publish their thoughts, respond to others, post pictures, share files, and otherwise contribute to the explosion of content available online. [13, p.2].

Reference List 

The reference list appears at the end of your paper, providing every citation for all the references you used throughout the text. These are the main rules to keep in mind when writing a reference list for your paper in IEEE style:

  • References should be listed numerically in the order they are cited within the paper. 
  • All bracketed numbers are written at the beginning of each reference. 
  • Article titles should be listed in quotation marks, while journal or book titles should be in italics.

Another thing to note is that an “ article”refers to a piece of prose, often included in different publications, like newspapers or magazines. On the other hand, a “journal” is a scholarly publication consisting of academic studies and information concerning a particular discipline. 

Here is how the citation differs from one material type to another:

Material Type Format Example
Web-based publications [#] Author(s) Initial(s). Surname(s), Webpage Title, Publisher Information (if relevant), Date of Publication. Accessed on: Date of Publication [Type of medium]. Available: site/file [1] N. Miller, “The Rising,” The Institute, p. 6, Sept. 8, 2019. [Online]. 

Available: Sanctum,

[Accessed Jan. 5, 2020].

Chapter in a Book [#] Author(s) Initial(s). Surname(s), Title of Book, xth ed. City of Publisher: Publisher, Year of Publication, pp. xx-xx. [13] T. Ang, Robots and Humans. Chicago, IL: Britannica Educational Publishing, 2018. 
Journal  [#] Author(s) Initial(s). Surname(s),” Title of the article,” Title of Journal, vol. x, no. x, pp. Xx-xx, Year of Publication.   [5] C. Griffin, “The Anomaly,” Archives of Electrical Engineering, vol. 20, no. 3, p.302, 2018. 
Print Magazine Article [#] Author(s) Initial(s). Surname(s),” Title of the magazine article,” Title of Magazine, vol. x, no.x, pp. xx-xx, abbrev. Month, Year. [20] E. Mori, “The origins of tattoos, and its societal impact,” Arts and Culture, vol. 302, no. 623, pp. 19-20, Jan. 2017.


Flowcite: Citation Made Easy 

With all these rules on citing IEEE style, you may feel overwhelmed and inconvenienced because of the time it’ll take away from doing actual research and writing your paper. 

If you want to save time and effort, you can consider using an academic writing suite or an IEEE citation generator, such as Flowcite, to hasten the citation process without sacrificing accuracy.

Flowcite is an all-in-one platform used by students and researchers internationally. Our automated reference and citation generator helps you reference consistently and flawlessly for submission-ready formatting. You can set the tool to IEEE style, or choose from 7,000 others, to use it as an automatic IEEE citation generator.

Beyond that, Flowcite offers innovative solutions for researchers to organise and streamline their research process from writing to publishing. You can use lots of cutting-edge tools within the software, such as: 

  • An advanced search engine with access to more than 21 million scholarly articles.
  • Browser extensions to collect saved citations and references automatically.
  • Premium proofreading, peer review, and publishing services, so your research meets the highest standards for publication.
  • AI-supported workflow and organisation tools to streamline your research process from start to finish.

With Flowcite, you can save a significant amount of time formatting, citing, writing, and editing your work. Flowcite enables you to focus on conducting your research study without worrying about citations, helping your research achieve its highest potential for submission and publishing. 

Sign up for Flowcite today to cite in IEEE style like a professional!

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