Skip to Main Content
site header image

IEEE Referencing

Explanation and examples for IEEE referencing style

Introduction to IEEE Referencing Style

Referencing is the standard practice for acknowledging information sources in academic writing at universities. You must acknowledges any ideas, quotations or images you have used.  

There are two main components to an IEEE reference:

  • In-text reference in the body of your assignment indicating where you have used information from an external source 
    • ​​​​​​​There are many Information Technology experts in Australia [1].
  • Reference list  at the end of your work providing details about each of these external sources
    • [1]  J. M. Black, How to be Australian, Melbourne, Australia: Text Publishing, 2020, p. 2.



  • In texts citations should be numbered sequentially, using square brackets, in the order that they appear in the text. Each subsequent use of the same reference would continue to use that same number.
  • The citation should appear directly following the reference. Do not wait to the end of long sentence with many ideas.  For example, "Peterson’s theory is widely used to justify exclusion [15]." and "Six animals suffered in Australia [2], but seventy in America [3]."
  • There is generally no need to mention authors or dates in in-text citations, simply say, for example: “In [3] it is shown…” or “Recent studies [4,5,8] have indicated...”  It is not necessary to say "In reference [14] ..." rather use "In [14] ..."
  • While not necessary, authors or dates can be shown if it is relevant to your text as per the following example: “As shown by Cookson [4] …” or “In contrast to [4, p. 2], it is evident that…"


Reference List

  • References are ordered as they appear in the in-text references (in order of citation, not in alphabetical order).
  • The reference numbers are shown in square brackets on the left of the page, with the remainder of the reference spaced to the right of this.


IEEE Referencing Style, 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
  • shows the depth of your research
  • are required under copyright law, which Box Hill Institute expects you to comply with
  • shows your teacher what is your work and what is supporting material you have drawn from external sources
  • lets readers locate the source you have used.

When do you need to Reference?

Are you using someone else's words, ideas or information? Insert an in-text reference whenever you:

  • paraphrase someone else's ideas in your own words
  • summarise someone's else's ideas in your own words
  • quote someone else's ideas in their exact words


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