IEEE In-Text Citation | Guidelines & Examples

An IEEE in-text citation consists of a number in brackets included in your sentence. This number corresponds to an entry on your IEEE reference page providing full information about the source.

Sources are numbered in the order they’re cited, so the first source you cite is [1], the second is [2], and so on. If you cite the same source again, it has the same number each time (don’t use ‘ibid.’) and only one entry on the reference page.

Example: IEEE in-text citation
Black [7] argues that this methodology is flawed.
If you’re submitting to an IEEE publication, you should also follow the IEEE paper format guidelines.

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Where to place IEEE in-text citations

You need an in-text citation whenever you quote, paraphrase, or summarise a source.

In-text citations are usually just placed at a relevant point in the sentence—for example after the author’s name or the quote you’re citing, or just at the end of the sentence. It’s not required to mention the author’s name, but you can.

Example: Placement of IEEE in-text citations in sentences
Johannes [1] suggests that further investigation is required. But according to Manuela [2], …

In-text citations can alternatively be treated as nouns in your sentence. In this case, you essentially use them in place of the author’s name (and therefore don’t mention the author’s name in your sentence). This is a more concise way of using in-text citations.

Example: IEEE in-text citations treated as nouns
[1] suggests that further investigation is required. But according to [2], …

In both cases, the bracketed number alone indicates a citation. You should never label the number with a word like “reference” or “citation.”

  • Reference [1]
  • [citation 4]

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Page numbers in in-text citations

When you’re quoting or paraphrasing a specific part of a source with pages (e.g., an IEEE journal article citation or IEEE book citation), you should include a page number to point the reader to that passage. Use ‘p.’ for a single page, ‘pp.’ for a range of pages (separating the two numbers with an en dash).

Example: Citation with page numbers
According to Maksim [10, pp. 44–50], these data are indicative of greater efficiency.

If page numbers are not available in the source you’re citing, there may be other locators you can use to point the reader to the right part. These can also be used in combination with page numbers when necessary (e.g., ‘[1, Ch. 5, p. 10]’).

Locators in IEEE in-text citations
Algorithms [1, Algorithm 2]
Appendices [2, Appendix III]
Chapters [3, Ch. 4]
Equations [4, eq. (1)]
Examples [5, Example 3]
Figures [6, Fig. 1]
Lemmas [7, Lemma 2]
Paragraphs [8, para. 10]
Sections [9, Sec. 1.4]
Tables [10, Tab. 5]

Citing multiple sources in one place

Sometimes, you may need to cite more than one source at the same point in the text—for example, when you’re summarising several related sources.

To do so, write the source numbers in separate sets of brackets, separated by commas.

Example: Citing multiple sources in one place
As mentioned in the previous section [4], [5], [8], …

If you need to cite a range of three or more sources, you can do so using an en dash (which also appears outside the brackets, not inside them). For example, the sentence below cites sources [8], [9], [10], and [11].

Example: Citing a range of sources
However, a number of more recent studies [8]–[11] have illustrated the weaknesses of this explanation.

Frequently asked questions about IEEE in-text citation

How do I create IEEE in-text citations?

An IEEE in-text citation consists of a number in brackets at the relevant point in the text, which points the reader to the right entry in the numbered reference list at the end of the paper. For example, ‘Smith [1] states that …’

A location marker such as a page number is also included within the brackets when needed: ‘Smith [1, p. 13] argues …’

When do I need an IEEE in-text citation?

You should include an IEEE in-text citation whenever you integrate a source into your text by quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing it. The citation appears in the sentence where the source is integrated, often after the author name or after any quoted text:

Narayana [15, p. 22] describes the trend as “ambiguous.”

When should I use ‘et al.’ in IEEE citation format?

In IEEE citation format, you should list the names of up to six authors in a reference on your IEEE reference page. If the source has seven or more authors, just list the first author’s name followed by ‘et al.’ (in italics): ‘F. Gupta et al., …’

In the main text, if you mention a source with three or more authors, you should use ‘et al.’: ‘Fowler et al. [11] argue that …’

Note that you’re not required to mention author names at all in the text though – just the IEEE in-text citation number is enough, in which case ‘et al.’ isn’t needed: ‘[11] argues that …’

How do I cite the same source repeatedly in IEEE citation format?

If you cite the same source more than once in your writing, use the same number for all of the IEEE in-text citations for that source, and only include it on the IEEE reference page once. The source is numbered based on the first time you cite it.

For example, the fourth source you cite in your paper is numbered [4]. If you cite it again later, you still cite it as [4]. You can cite different parts of the source each time by adding page numbers [4, p. 15].

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.