How to Write a Paper in IEEE Format: Citation and Referencing

To be successful in the academic field as a computer science student, you should know how to write a paper in the IEEE format. IEEE format is commonly used to style subjects in Programming, Information Technologies, or Web Communication; that is why it is crucial to master it.

This article will guide you on how to cite your academic papers in IEEE. Furthermore, we will provide the IEEE style definition, impart the essential requirements given in the manual style, offer several general writing recommendations and share well-detailed IEEE citation examples.

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What Is IEEE?

The IEEE reference is a widely accepted style for writing, formatting, and citing research papers. The format was developed based on the Chicago Manual of Style and is commonly used by students and experts in Computer science, Engineering, and other technological fields. This profound article will be helpful to every student or new expert involved in this field. Therefore, if you are associated with the mentioned fields of study, we suggest that you go through this article rather than studying the complete edition of the latest IEEE manual style. We have presented ideas of how to cite a paper in IEEE coherently and comprehensively to assist you in grasping the concepts with ease, thus, saving your time.

You may wonder what IEEE stands for? The letters IEEE stand for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It is the world’s largest technical association whose aim is to advance technology for the better of humanity. IEEE was developed in 1963 based on two American establishments- the Institute of Radio Engineers and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

IEEE provides innovative STEM and university education and facilitates the accreditation of engineering programs at the university level, setting the bar for technical specialists and researchers. The IEEE has established its own writing style manual that outlines the standards of writing and organizing academic works in relevant fields.

The IEEE Style is made up of 2 crucial elements 

  • In-text citations (direct& indirect)
  • References ( Works Cited in MLA Format)

In-text citations are short notes that indicate that the information or idea provided has been derived from an outside source. In-text citations in IEEE are numbered using square brackets. Each number in the corresponding citation identifies the complete citation listed in the Reference section in numerical order (Mostly known as Works Cited or Bibliography in other formats ). In APA citation format, it is referred to as References.

Why Citing is Essential for Your Academic Performance?

Academic papers come with several requirements, such as collecting sources and citing them, which could be time-consuming and tiresome. Most students find the citation process too challenging and frequently disregard its essence.

Therefore, why is citing sources crucial for your academic performance? Most importantly, citing outside sources assists students in showcasing their competence and prove to their professors that they put in time and effort into researching the assigned topic. In addition, this process has a few other purposes :

  1. Providing Credibility 

There are two primary reasons for using information or ideas from outside sources 1.)  To compliment the contents of your work with relevant data. 2.) To offer a different perspective/ opinion on the matter in discussion. Both cases aim at adding credibility to your work, making it look trustworthy and valid therefore establishing yourself as a reliable author.

  1. Ensuring Academic Integrity and Uniqueness

You can lose academic integrity and misrepresent your academic accomplishments by not giving credit to other people’s work when relevant. Furthermore, you can put the uniqueness of your paper in jeopardy; because using external sources without citing them is usually considered plagiarism. These issues can result in attaining a low grade, failure of the task, or even expulsion.

IEEE has a unique definition of plagiarism.  The organization argues that this is when a student or researcher uses the ideas, opinions, research findings, or works of another author or source without acknowledging them. Plagiarism is a grave infringement of professional conduct. In most situations, it encompasses severe ethical and legal outcomes. How would you feel if, one day, when you are an established developer, someone used your ideas without giving credit to your work?

  1. Acknowledging the Works of Other Specialists

The primary purpose of citing sources is to acknowledge other people’s works wherever it is appropriate. As you write every citation, you appreciate the hard work, time, and effort another person invested in their research.

  1. Contributing to Further Research 

Lastly, by giving proper credit to other people’s works, you contribute to your further research and assist other researchers in quickly locating the relevant sources you have cited.

 Keep in mind that formatting weighs around 10-15% of the final grade you get for a paper. All things considered, it is fair to say that students can not attain the highest grade without properly citing their work.

Basic Page Format 

The standard IEEE template contains the following sections in the same order:

  1. Title page ( including the article’s title, byline, membership, and first footnote)
  2. Abstract- should be one paragraph long( preferably between 150 to 250 words)
  3. Index Terms
  4. Nomenclature (optional)
  5. Introduction
  6. Body of article
  7. Conclusion
  8. Appendix(es)
  9. Acknowledgment (s )
  10. References
  11. Photos and Biographies

Students should follow these basic rules to write an IEEE-style paper.

  • Title of the paper- place it on the first page, center it at the top, and change the font size to 24 pt.
  • Byline- Place it below the paper’s title, center it, change the font size to 10 pt. The byline has to include the following information ( each point requires to be on a separate line):
  • Author’s name(s)
  • Author’s affiliation (s)
  • City & country location (s)
  • E-mail address (es).
  •  The main body – all written in 10pt font size; the text should appear in two columns on the page. Columns on the last page have to be the same length, which means the author may need to add a column a break.
  • The paper should begin with the abstract and index terms.
  • Depending on the subject and context, papers may include additional sections like:
  • Acknowledgments
  • Appendices
  • Note to Practitioners
  • Nomenclature
  • The main body of the paper can be divided into relevant sections and subsections. Every section and subsection should have a heading formatted according to the rules specified later in this guide.
  • You should number all tables, equations, and figures consecutively and center them in the column.
  • IEEE should begin with a drop cap two lines deep, followed by the next 8-12 characters or 1-2 words ( depending on which is more appropriate ) in all caps.

Parts of paper

  •  Headings

The IEEE format recommends writers use four levels of hierarchy for the text’s headings.

Type of heading

Suggested Format



Centred, numbered by Roman numerals, followed by a period. The first letter is set to 10 pt. font size, the rest should be 8pt ., all caps 

SecondaryFlush left, enumerated by capital letters followed by a period, upper and lowercase, italic, 10pt. font size

Formal Frameworks

Indented one em, enumerated by Arabic numerals followed by a parenthesis, it runs into the text in its sections, upper and lower case, italic, and followed by a colon. All set to 10 pt. font size, as is the whole text in the main body

Sophisticated Local Control: The term sophisticated local control refers to…
Quarternary Same as tertiary, with the following exceptions: indented  two ems, enumerated by lower case letters, and only requires capitalizing the first letter of the heading 

Communication Policies: communication policies are developed to…

Although IEEE prefers you to number sections of headings, it is not mandatory- the author can use their preference. Nonetheless, the selected format should be consistently followed throughout the whole paper.

Apart from section headings, there are also Appendix, Reference, and Acknowledgement headings, which are formatted differently:

Appendix headings– The author should format the primary heading(s) in the paper’s Appendix or Appendixes according to the standard style. In addition, IEEE allows writers to use either letters or Roman numerals to enumerate Appendix headings (e.g., Appendix A or Appendix Ⅰ)-  Keep in mind that a Roman numeral should not precede it. You should not name or number the heading of only one Appendix.

Reference and Acknowledgements headings– The author should format them like primary headings. Nonetheless, they should not label or enumerate them.

  • First Footnote

The first footnote in the article is not numbered ( though all following footnotes should be numbered consecutively ) and should comprise of three paragraphs :

  • The first part should specify the received and revised (optional) dates of the paper. When there is more than one revised date, list all of them.
  • The following paragraph entails the author’s affiliations. If there are two or more authors with varying affiliations, use separate sentences and paragraphs of every author, specifying all initials with the last name. The authors with the same affiliation should be grouped; you should list the affiliations according to the order of the authors in the byline.
  • The last paragraph of the first footnote should specify the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number assigned by the IEEE.


Manuscript received April 27, 2018; revised September 18, 2018; accepted July 25, 2018. Date of publication August 15, 2013: date of current version September 9, 2018. This work was supported by a grant from the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCS UEFISCDI, under Project PN-II-ID-BXE-4016-3-0566. (Corresponding author: John Smith.)

The authors with the National Institute for Lasers, Plasma and Radiation Physics, Plasma Physics and Nuclear Fusion Laboratory, 077125 Bucharest Magurele, Romania (e-mail:;;

Color Versions of one or more of the figures are available online at http:// Only Used with Printed Publications). Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/JDT.2013.2278036

If you require to indicate any financial support for the work, you should do this in the first paragraph rather than the acknowledgment section.


The National Science Foundation supported this work under Grant 90210 and Grant ECS-12345.

Body of the Paper 

  • Abstract

According to the IEEE format, every paper should have an abstract. Insert an abstract after the title page of the document. It should also appear in the text in boldface type. The author should ensure that it is concise and does not include any numbered references or mathematical equations.

  • Index Terms 

IEEE requires authors to provide Index Terms in their paper. Index Terms should appear in boldface type,  alphabetic order, and located within the Abstract as its final paragraph. This section requires you only to define acronyms that have already been described in the paper.

The writers can request a list of keywords by sending a blank e-mail to keywords[at]

  • Text Equations 

As you put equations within the main body of the paper, you should number them in inconsequential order from the start of the work to its end. IEEE permits some transactions to use the author’s numbering system, for instance, numbering by section, e.g., (1.1), (1.2.1), (A1).

  • Acknowledgment

The acknowledgment section should always follow the final part of the text, after any Appendix(es) and preceding the References section. The author should ensure that it is written in the third person.

Suppose you require to cite names in the Acknowledgment section; in that case, do not use full names and honorables such as Mr., Mrs., and Ms. Rather, only list first initials followed by a family name. Authors can still use titles like prof. and Dr., but only in the singular form, putting it separately next to every name.

It is worth noting that you should not put the information of any financial support in the Acknowledgement section, instead place it in the first paragraph of the first footnote.

  • References 

IEEE requires authors to number all the references and ensure a separate entry for each number. You are not permitted to use the same reference number for a group of IEEE citations.

  • Text Citation of Figures and Tables

IEEE citation format for figures and tables requires authors to follow a numerical order. Always label citations figures located within the paper by the abbreviation “Fig” followed by the relevant figure number. Writers should use this abbreviation even if it has to be placed at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Bibliographies

IEEE transactions require including author’s bibliographies. According to IEEE rules, you should divide the bibliographies into three paragraphs:

  1. The first paragraph- should begin with the author’s full name and the history of their IEEE membership. It might also include a date and or place of birth( if the author provides it ). Next, it is essential to indicate the author’s educational background. Specify the major field of study in lowercase letters, always put the word “degree” after a particular degree title, and indicate the years when the degrees were acquired. You may use the following abbreviations for specifying degrees: Dipl.Ing., Diplom-Physiker,, dr. Phil., Dr. Eng., B.S., S.B., B.A., A.B., B.Sc. (Hons.), B.S.E., B.E.E., M.Eng., M.S.( tech.), M.S.E.E., M.S.E., Civilingenir, Sci., Lett.
  2. Second paragraph- It should include details about the author’s work and military experience (if any); you should capital all job titles. As you discuss your current job, you must specify its location, although this is not mandatory for past experiences. Follow the list of experience by the author’s affiliations with non-IEEE journals and current and previous fields of interest.

Note: Do not repeat the author’s name in this paragraph; instead, use: “he” or “she.”

  1. Third paragraph- should begin with the title and surname of the author (e.g., Prof. Dickens, Mr. Brown, Dr. Adams, etc.). Next, it should list information about the author’s memberships in professional societies (except IEEE), as well as their status as a Professional Engineer (if so). You should end the paragraph with a list of the author’s awards, publications, and work for IEEE committees. If the author’s bibliography is unavailable, you need to use squib for it.


Frank J. Author (S’xx- M’xx), photograph, and bibliography not available at the time of publication.

Other Text 

  • Footnotes

A footnote is any additional information, explanation, or comment associated with the main text printed at the bottom of the page. IEEE format requires writers to number all footnotes and organize them consecutively within the body of the paper. The numbers both within the text and in the actual footnotes should be marked with superscripts. When placing the superscript numbers within the body of the paper, ensure that you place them after punctuation marks, such as parenthesis, commas, and periods. Nonetheless, if the sentence is a compound one, you should set the numbers before punctuation marks such as semicolons, dashes, colons, and quotation marks. You should put the actual footnotes at the bottom of the page where the cited information is located.

  • List in Text 

Authors should format all lists within the IEEE style papers according to the following order of labeling: 1), 2), 3) followed by a), b), c) and then ⅰ), ⅱ), ⅲ).

Example :

According to the IEEE Computer Society, the most crucial areas of computer science are: 1) algorithms and data structures; 2) theory of computation; 3) computer elements and architecture; and 4) programming methodology and languages.

How to Cite References

As discussed earlier, each reference has a corresponding IEEE citation within the research paper’s or the essay’s main body. Every time an author adds a citation, they should insert a number in the brackets. Afterwards, the writer should assign a complete reference of each citation on the References page. To make it easier for a reader to locate the complete reference, relevant citations within the text and the references pages should correspond to numbers. The reference page should be on a separate page of the paper.

Every complete IEEE reference must include all of the necessary bibliographic information to help the reader find more information about its topic. The elements of an IEEE format reference are :

  • A corresponding number to the in-text citation
  • Author’s surname and initials
  • The entire title of the work
  • Place of publication
  • Date of publication
  • Some more minor details like page number, issue, or volume (if available)

Now that you know the basic rules of citations, let’s look at some IEEE format citation examples to assist you to comprehend how to make a reference page:

Digital Documents 


[corresponding number] Author. (year, month, and day of publication). Book title. (edition). [ Type of medium ]. Vol. (issue). Available: http://website URL [ date accessed]


[1] S.Calmer.(1999, June 1). Engineering and Art.( 2nd edition). [On-line].27(3). Available: http:// website URL [ May 21,2003].

IEEE Website Citation 

[Corresponding number] Website. “Title.” Available: complete URL, date updated, [ Accessed :]


[2] NEWS. “Engineering Triumph That Forged a Nation: Panama Canal Turns 100,” Aug. 15, 2014. Accessed on: Nov. 3, 2016. [Online]. Available:


[ corresponding number ] Author’s Initial. Author’s Surname, “Title”, Publication Title, Year Published. [ Online ].  Available: http:// website URL. [ Accessed: date].


[3] D. Hill, Speaker, Australian Media Representation of Asia. In Australia in Asia (FDN110). Murdoch (WA): Murdoch University; Apr. 4, 2012. [Podcast lecture]. Available: [Accessed Jun. 5, 2012].

Print References 

Book: Single Author 

[corresponding number] Author. Book Title. Location: Publishing company, year, pp.

Example :

[4] W.-K. Chen.Linear Networks and Systems. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1993, pp. 123-135.

Book: Two or more authors

[corresponding number] Author, Author, Author, and Author. Book title. Location: Publishing company, year, pp.

Example :

[1]     R. Merchant and S. Saxena, Engineering. Chicago, IL: Britannica Educational Publishing, 2016.

[2] U.J.Gelinas, Jr., S.G. Sutton, and J. Fedorowicz. Business Processes and Information Technology. Cincinnati: South-Western/Thomson Learning, 2004, pp.98-100.

Book: No author 

[ corresponding number] Book title. Location: Publishing company, year, pp.


[5] The Oxford Dictionary of Computing, 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, pp.13-23.

Article in a Journal 

[corresponding number] Author. “Article Title.” Journal title, vol., pp, date.


 [6]  T. Kaczorek, “Minimum energy control of fractional positive electrical circuits,” Archives of Electrical Engineering, vol. 65, no. 2, pp.191201, 2016.

Newspaper Article

[corresponding number] Author. “Article title.” Newspaper title, pp, date.


[7] N. Perpitch, “Green groups battle to overturn gas plan, “The Australian, p.2, Sept. 7, 2010.

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