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IEEE Referencing: What is Referencing?

Explanation and examples for IEEE referencing style

What is Referencing?

Referencing is the way an author (of an assignment, essay, book, poster, PowerPoint or report) acknowledges any ideas, quotations or images they have used.  The most important thing is to clearly identify all the sources of information that you have used in your work.

There are two main components of any referencing style:

  • In-text citation - indicates where you have used information from an external source in the assignment
  • A reference list  at the end of your work providing details about each of these external sources

It's really important to keep your citing and your reference List CONSISTENT. 

IEEE, created by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, is a widely used referencing style for electrical, electronic and computing publications. It is used across a number of subjects and courses at Box Hill Institute.

Why Reference?

Correct citation and referencing

  • help you remember where you found that useful photo/quote/piece of information, which saves time,
  • are required for all assignments
  • are required under copyright law, which Box Hill Institute expects you to comply with,
  • show that you respect the ideas of other designers, artists and writers, and
  • give your assignment a more professional look.

When do you need to Reference?

You are required to acknowledge the work of others any time that you use it in your work. This applies no matter what the source of the material is; you must provide references for material from books, journals, websites, emails, conversations, DVDs and any other sources you have used. This applies whether the information used is factual in basis (statistics, figures, graphs, tables etc) or based on someone’s opinion. 

 Providing references to your source material allows your teacher to see that you have genuinely researched your assignment, and based the content on quality information sources.  If you do not provide references when you use other’s materials, this is called plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious offence, and can get you into trouble with your teacher, course or even the law.

You must supply references both when you use an exact quotation, and when you put the information into your own words.

The only exception to this is when you refer to ‘common knowledge’. Information is common knowledge if it is both generally known and not open to interpretation. For example, you would not need to provide a reference if you say that Bill Gates and Paul Allen were the founders of Microsoft, as this is widely known. However, you would need to provide a reference if you say that ‘Gates has become the most powerful — and feared — player in the computer industry’ [1] as this is an opinion, rather than a fact.If you are in doubt as to whether information is common knowledge or not, it is best to cite it and add it to your reference list.


[1] J. Wallace and J. Erickson, Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire. New York: Harper Business, 1993.


IEEE publication template

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