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IEEE Citation Style: In-Text Citations

This guide provides information on the 2020 edition of the IEEE citation style.


Use citations within the paper to indicate where certain ideas or words were derived. References should be used for both direct quotations and paraphrased information.   Citations are identified by numbers enclosed in square brackets.  A citation should include the citation number and should include a page number or range if needed.


[Citation number, page]
[1: 161]


  • Citations are numbered in the order in which they appear in the text. Each citation corresponds to a numbered reference at the end of your report.
  • Once a source has been cited, the same number is used in all subsequent references.
  • Include a page number when directly quoting. You can also consider including a page number when specific information is referred to in a paraphrase. It is better to have a page number than to not have one. Your instructor may have specific expectations about what to include.

How to Cite a Direct Quotation

Short Quotations

When you incorporate a direct quotation into a sentence, you must cite the source. Fit quotations within your sentences, enclosed in quotation marks, making sure the sentences are grammatically correct.

[4: 79] indicates that, “Quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively.”

Remember that “[q]uotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” [4: 79].

In 2003, Gibaldi wrote that, “Quotations are effective in research papers when used selectively” [4: 79].

In 2003, Gibaldi wrote that, "Quotations are effective..when used selectively" [4: 79].


Longer Quotations

If a quotation is 40 words or more, omit quotation marks and use a block format in which the quotation is indented about ½ inch (or 5 spaces) from both margins. Cite the source at the end of the block quote, after the final punctuation mark.

Co-presence does not ensure intimate interaction among all group members. Consider large-scale social gatherings
in which hundreds or thousands of people gather in a location to perform a ritual or celebrate an event. In these
instances, participants are able to see the visible manifestation of the group, the physical gathering, yet their ability
to make direct, intimate connections with those around them is limited by the sheer magnitude of the assembly. [5: 324]


How to Cite When Altering a Direct Quotation

When you need to leave out part of a quotation to make it fit grammatically or because it contains irrelevant/unnecessary information, insert ellipses (three dots).


In 2003, Gibaldi wrote that, “Quotations are effective...when used selectively” [4: 79].

If you must add or slightly change words within a quotation for reasons of grammar or clarity, indicate the change with square brackets.


In 2003, Gibaldi wrote that, “Quotations are effective in [academic writing] when used selectively” [4:79].

How to Paraphrase

Even if you put information in your own words by summarizing or paraphrasing, you must still cite the source. You are also encouraged to provide a page number when applicable (check with your instructor to see when page numbers are required).


Within the research paper, quotations will have more impact when used judiciously [4].

Several different studies [1, 2, 4] suggest that smokers are more likely to have a higher risk of getting cancer.

How to Cite Information for Tables, Charts, and Images

The in-text citation for images appears as a caption underneath the image that you copied or adapted for your paper. Begin the caption with the word "Figure", a number, and a title. Follow this with "Source:" and the reference list entry number in brackets. 

If you adapted the figure, begin the citation with "Adapted from" followed by the citation number in brackets.


Figure 1: Wind Turbine
Source: Adapted from [3]


  • Number figures and tables separately.
  • Looking for images that have an appropriate licence for use in your project? Check out the Finding Images guide.

How to Cite Secondary Sources

A secondary source is one that is discussed by the author you are reading. You do not read the original report but instead get the information second-hand from the author.  IEEE guidelines do not allow the use of secondary sources. Because you did not read the original report, you cannot include it in your research. Contact a librarian to assist you with locating the original source.

How to Cite Personal Communications

According to IEEE guidelines, personal communications (e.g., emails, phone calls, and interviews) are not typically included in the list of references. Instead, identify the author, including their title, within the text of your report


In a letter, Dr. Sarah Smith from School of Construction at SAIT claimed that many of her students enjoyed working with the IEEE style.

Consult your instructor to confirm whether you are required to list interviews, emails, phone calls, and lectures as part of the References page. 

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