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Referencing at MIT: IEEE Style

A guide to plagiarism and referencing in APA and IEEE styles

IEEE Style guide

Other guides

IEEE Abbreviations

IEEE style abbreviates many common words in reference lists to make those references shorter and take up less space on the page. Thus,

Association becomes Assoc.

Business becomes Bus.

Communications becomes Commun.

Conference becomes Conf.

Development becomes Develop.

And so on. These abbreviations only apply to Journal (abbreviated to J.) titles, such as Int. J. Bioinf. and Priv. (International Journal of Bioinformatics and Privacy).

There is a list of common words and their abbreviations in Appendix B of the MIT IEEE Style Guide (above), or on pages 18-21 of the IEEE Reference Guide


Formatting IEEE reference lists


A referencing style is a standard way of structuring and formatting references for publishing. At MIT, the School of Information Technology and Engineering uses IEEE, formulated by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Use the tabs in the box below to see some examples of IEEE Style referencing.

IEEE Style examples

In text

The difference between supervised and unsupervised machine learning is that an unsupervised training set provides only data with no solutions [1]. 

Reference list formula

[#]    A. B. Author, “Article title,” Abbreviated Journal Title, vol. x, no. x, pp. xx-xx, month, year, DOI or URL 

Reference list example

[1]    P. Louridas and C. Ebert, “Machine Learning,” IEEE Softw., vol 33, no. 5, pp. 110-115, Aug. 2016, doi: 10.1109/MS.2016.114.

In text

Additionally, Wachter-Boettcher [2] examines the way different skin tones are perceived by AI systems developed by exclusively white teams.

Reference list formula

[#]    A. Author. Title of Book. Location: Publisher, year. 

Reference list

[2]    S. Wachter-Boettcher, Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech. New York, NY, USA: Norton, 2017.

NOTE: Publisher states are only required for USA publishers. For outside the USA, just use the city and the country (eg. Frenchs Forest, Australia; London, England).

In text

Stegmaier [3] provides some fundamental rules that everyone looking to crowdfund their next project should follow.

Reference list

[3]    J. Stegmaier, A Crowdfunder’s Strategy Guide. Oakland, CA, USA: Berrett-Koehler, 2015. [Online]. Available: strategy/9781626564107/xhtml/ch004.html

NOTE: Publisher states are only required for USA publishers. For outside the USA, just use the city and the country (eg. Frenchs Forest, Australia; London, England).

Use this format when different people are credited with writing each chapter

In text

Markham [4] points out that between the early development of the public internet and now, the onus of protecting individuals' privacy has shifted from government and regulatory bodies to the individuals concerned.

Reference list formula

[#]    A. Author, “Title of Chapter”, in Book Title, E. Editor Ed., Location: Publisher, year, ch. #, sec #, pp. ##-## 

Reference list example

[4]    A. N. Markham, “From Using to Sharing: A Story of Shifting Fault Lines in Privacy and Data Protection Discourse,” in Ethics for a digital age, B. Vanacker and D. Heider Eds., New York, NY, USA: Peter Lang, 2016, ch. 10, sec 3, pp. 189-205.

In text

Due to the varied challenges in adopting a greener approach to IT, a holistic, company approach is necessary to implement these kinds of practices [5].

Reference list formula

[#]    A. Author. “Page title.” Website Title. URL (accessed month day, year).

Reference list example

[5]    A. Fu. “Green IT: The Value of Green Computing and How to Adopt it”. (accessed Jun. 4, 2020).

In text

The Atom interface allows clear workflows when working in multiple languages (such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) [6]

Reference list formula

[#]   Title of Software. (version or year), Publisher Name. Accessed: Month day, year. [Type of medium]. Available: URL

Reference list example

[6]   Atom. (1.32.2), GitHub. Accessed: Nov. 20 2018. Available:

In text

There are four major negotiation strategies, with win-win being the one most likely to lead to a happy ending for all parties [7]. 

Reference list formula

[#]    A. Author. (year). Title of lecture [file format]. Available: URL

Reference list

[7]    M. Muskat. (2019). BB101 Business Communication: Lecture five - Negotiation and conflict management [PowerPoint presentation]. Available:

The correct formatting for conference proceedings and papers can vary significantly depending on if/how the paper was presented, and where you  retrieved it from. The examples below demonstrate only one kind of conference paper, retrieved online with a DOI. See pages 5-8 of the official IEEE Reference Guide for more information.

In text

In the digital world, individuals are represented by large and diverse data sets, which are very hard to camouflage [8].

Reference list formula

A. Author, "Title of conference paper" in Abbreviated Name of Conf., City, (US State), Country, month year, pp.xx-xx, doi: 10.1...

Reference list example

[8]    E. Toch and Y. Birman, "Towards behavioral privacy: How to understand AI’s privacy threats in ubiquitous computing" in UbiComp '18: Proc. 2018 ACM Int. Joint Conf. 2018 Int. Symp. Pervasive and Ubiquitous Comput. and Wearable Comput., Singapore, Singapore, October 2018, pp. 931–936, doi: 10.1145/3267305.3274155

When to reference

A comic panel from the website XKCD showing a person speaking on a stage in front of a crowd, with one audience member standing up holding a sign that reads "citation needed" in the format used by Wikipedia.
[1] Citation needed, by R. Munroe, n.d., retrieved from Used under Creative Commons A-NC 2.5 license.

But when should I reference?

We know that we should insert a reference when we use another person's:

  • words
  • ideas
  • facts, or
  • statistics

but what does that mean?

It means that when another person (like a lecturer or tutor) reads our work, they can ask "how do you know that?" and be pointed to the source of information that we used, as shown below.

Body of document

IEEE Style is a numerical referencing system [2]. In IEEE Style, in-text citations are given using numbers in square brackets which point readers to the relevant reference list entry, ordered numerically [3]. This is in contrast to APA Style which uses the authors' names and publication years in text to perform the same function [4].


[1]  R. Munroe, "Wikipedian protester". (accessed May 12, 2020).

[2]  Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers."IEEE Reference Guide". IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA. 2018. Accessed: May 12, 2020. [Online]. Available

[3]  Victoria University, "IEEE Referencing: Getting started with IEEE referencing". (accessed May 12, 2020).

[4]  American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, DC, USA: American Psychological Association, 2009

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