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

Every student who studies Computer Science should know how to write a paper in the IEEE format to set themselves up for success. Whether you major in Programming, Information Technologies, or Web Communication, the IEEE paper format is widely used for styling academic papers written in these subjects, which is why it is vital to master it.

This article will be your guide to the format. While reading it, you will learn how to cite in IEEE. Additionally, we will tell you what the IEEE style is, share the basic requirements given in this manual of style, provide some overall writing recommendations, and share handy IEEE citation examples.


What Is IEEE?

The IEEE reference format is a commonly accepted style for writing, formatting, and citing research papers. The format was created based on the Chicago Manual of Style and is widely used by students and researchers in Computer Science and relevant technical fields. This comprehensive guide will come in handy for every student or young professional involved in this field. Thus, if that’s your major, we recommend reading this article instead of studying the entire edition of the latest IEEE manual of style, to save lots of time and to grasp the idea of how to create an IEEE paper with ease.

What does IEEE stand for, you may wonder? The letters IEEE stand for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It is a professional association of electric engineering and associated disciplines. It was formed in 1963 on the basis of two American establishments – the Institute of Radio Engineers and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

Being the largest association of technical professionals in the world, the IEEE sets the bar for aspiring technical specialists and researchers. To outline the standards for writing and organizing academic works in relevant fields, the IEEE has established its own writing style manual.

The IEEE style consists of 2 critical elements:

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

In-text citations are short quotations taken from primary or secondary sources. In IEEE in text citation, they are numbered in square brackets. Every number next to their corresponding citation identifies the complete citation listed in the References section in numerical order (commonly referred to as the Works Cited list or bibliography page in other formats). In APA citation format they call it References.

Why Citing is Important for Your Academic Performance?

Collecting sources for an academic paper and then citing them can be rather time-consuming and tedious. Many students find the citation process too complicated and often overlook its importance.

So, why is citing sources vital for your academic performance? First of all, citing external sources helps students show their professors that they have invested time and effort into researching the given topic. Also, this process has a few other purposes:

1. Providing Credibility
The main reasons for using information from external sources are either to compliment the contents of your work with relevant data, or to provide a different look/opinion on the issue stated. In both cases, it means adding credibility to your own paper, making it look more trustworthy and complete, and establishing yourself as an authoritative author.

2. Ensuring Academic Integrity and Uniqueness
By not giving credit to other people’s works when relevant, you lose academic integrity and misrepresent your own academic achievements. At the same time, you risk the uniqueness of your paper; as simply using external resources without citing them is most often considered plagiarism. Both issues can lead to a low grade, failure of the task, or even expulsion.

Besides, IEEE has a special definition of plagiarism. The organization believes it is the usage of another’s ideas, opinions, research findings, or words, without acknowledging the original writer and source. Plagiarism is a severe breach of professional conduct. It involves serious ethical & legal outcomes in most situations. Imagine someone would use your words one day once you’ve become a famous writer or scientist. How would you feel?

3. Acknowledging the Works of Other Specialists
The main purpose of citing sources is to give credit to the works of other people, wherever it is pertinent. When creating each citation, you acknowledge the hard work, time, and effort another person has put into his or her research.

4. Contributing to Further Research
Finally, the last reason that proves the importance of citations is the fact that by giving accurate credit to others’ works, you are contributing to your own further research and also helping other researchers locate the relevant sources you’ve cited with ease.

All in all, it is worth noting that formatting weighs around 10-15% of the final grade you get for a paper. Given this and other reasons, it is fair to say that students can’t count on the highest grade without having their sources properly cited.

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

To write an IEEE style paper, students should follow these basic rules:

  • Paper title – placed on the first page, centered at the top, and 24pt font size.
  • Byline – placed below the paper title after a line break, centered, 10pt font size. The byline has to include the following information (every point needs to be on a separate line):
    • Author’s name(s)
    • Author’s affiliation(s)
    • City & country location(s)
    • E-mail address(es).
  • 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 of the same length, which means the author may need to add a column break.
  • The paper should start 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. Each section and subsection should have a heading formatted according to the rules specified later in this guide.
  • All tables, equations, and figures have to be numbered in consecutive order and centered in the column.
  • IEEE papers should start 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.

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Parts of a Paper

  • Headings
    The IEEE format suggests authors of papers use four levels of hierarchy for the text’s section headings:

Type of Heading

Suggested Format



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



Flush left, enumerated by capital letters, followed by a period, upper and lower case, italic, 10pt. font size

A. 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 10pt. font size, as is the whole text in the main body

1) Sophisticated Local Control: The term sophisticated local control refers to…


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

a) Communication policies: Communication policies are developed to…

Enumeration of section headings is preferable, but not mandatory – the author can use his or her preference. However, the chosen format should be consistently followed throughout the entire paper.

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

Appendix headings — the primary heading(s) in the paper’s Appendix or Appendixes should be formatted according to the standard style. The authors are allowed to use either letters or Roman numerals to enumerate Appendix headings (e.g. Appendix A or Appendix I)—but note that it should not be preceded by a Roman numeral. In case you only have one Appendix in the paper, its heading remains unnamed and unnumbered.

Reference and Acknowledgement headings — should be formatted like primary headings. However, these should never be labeled or enumerated.

  • First Footnote
    The first footnote in the article is not numbered (though all following footnotes should be numbered consecutively) and should consist 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 next paragraph consists of the authors’ affiliations. In case there are two or more authors with varying affiliations, use separate sentences and paragraphs for each 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 of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCS UEFISCDI, under Project PN-II-ID-BXE-4016-3-0566. (Corresponding author: John Smith.)
The authors are with the National Institute for Lasers, Plasma and Radiation Physics, Plasma Physics and Nuclear Fusion Laboratory, 077125 Bucharest-Magurele, Romania (e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]).
Color versions of one or more of the figures are available online at http:// (NOTE: Only Used with Printed Publications).
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/JDT.2013.2278036

If you need to specify any financial support for the work, it should be listed in the first paragraph instead of the Acknowledgement section.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant 90210 and Grant ECS-12345.

Body of the Paper

  • Abstract
    The IEEE format requires authors to include an Abstract in every paper. An abstract should follow the Title Page of the document and appear in the text in boldface type. It has to be concise and should not include any numbered references or mathematical equations.
  • Index Terms
    Authors should also provide Index Terms in their IEEE papers. Index Terms should also appear in boldface type, in alphabetic order, and located within the Abstract as its final paragraphs. You should only define acronyms in this section if they have already been defined in the paper itself.
    The authors can request a list of keywords by sending a blank email to keywords[at]
  • Text Equations
    When placing equations within the main body of the paper, one should number them in inconsequential order from the beginning of the work to its end. In some transactions, it is permitted to use the author’s own numbering system, for example, numbering by section, e.g., (1.1), (1.2.1), (A1).
  • Acknowledgment
    The Acknowledgement section should always follow the final part of the text, after any Appendix(es) and preceding the References section. It should be written in the third person.

If you need to cite names in the Acknowledgement section, do not use full names and honorables like Mr., Mrs., Miss, and Ms. Instead, only list first initials followed by a family name. You can still use titles like Prof. and Dr., but only in the singular form, placing it separately next to each name.

Do NOT include information about any financial support in the Acknowledgement section, place it in the first paragraph of the first footnote instead.

  • References
    In IEEE papers, all references should be numbered and there should be a separate entry for each number. It is not allowed to use the same reference number of a group of IEEE citations.
  • Text Citation of Figures and Tables
    IEEE citation format for figures and tables requires following numerical order. Citations of figures located within the paper should always be labeled by the abbreviation “Fig.” followed by the relevant figure number. Authors of papers should use this abbreviation even if it has to be put at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Biographies
    IEEE Transactions require including author biographies. As a rule, biographies have to be divided into three paragraphs:
  1. First paragraph — should start with the full name of the author and the history of his or her IEEE membership. It may also contain a date and/or place of birth (if the author provides it). After this, it is vital to specify the author’s educational background. Indicate the major area of study in lowercase letters, always put the word “degree” after a specific degree title, and specify the years when the degrees were obtained. For specifying degrees, you may use the following abbreviations: Dipl.Ing., Diplom-Physiker, Dr. ing., 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 contain information about the author’s work and military experience (if any); all job titles should be capitalized. When mentioning their current job, one must specify its location, but 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: you should not repeat the name of the author in this paragraph; use “he” or “she” instead.

  1. Third paragraph — should start with the title and surname of the author (e.g., Dr. Mitchell, Mr. Black, Prof. Smith, etc.). Then 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). The paragraph should end with a list of the author’s awards, publications, and work for IEEE committees. If the author’s biography is unavailable, you need to use a squib for it.

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

Other Text

  • Footnotes
    A footnote is any additional information, explanation, or comment related to the main text that is located at the bottom of the page. All footnotes within the IEEE format paper should be numbered and followed in consecutive order within the body of the paper. The numbers, both within the text and in the actual footnotes, should be marked with superscripts. Within the body of the paper, the superscript footnote numbers should always be placed after the punctuation marks, such as parentheses, commas, and periods. However, if the sentence is a compound one, the numbers should be placed before the punctuation marks, such as semicolons, dashes, colons, and quotation marks. The actual footnotes should be placed at the bottom of the page where the cited information is located.
  • List in Text
    All lists within the IEEE style papers should be formatted according to the following order of labeling: 1), 2), 3) followed by a), b), c), and then i), ii), iii).

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 was already mentioned, every reference has a corresponding IEEE citation within the main body of the essay or research paper. Each time a writer adds a citation, they should insert a number within square brackets. Later, each citation should be assigned a complete reference on the References page. Relevant citations within the text and on the references page should correspond to each other by numbers to make it possible to find the complete reference. The references page should be on its own separate page of the paper.

Each full IEEE reference must include all of the necessary bibliographic information to help the reader find more details 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 full title of the work
  • Place of publication
  • Date of publication
  • Some smaller details like page number, issue, or volume (if available)

Now, as you know the basic rules of citations, let’s look at some IEEE format citation examples to help you understand 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].

[6] 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: date].

[7] “Social Networking Reaches Nearly One in Four Around the World.” Available: http:// website URL, Jan. 25, 2014. [Accessed: June.23, 2014].

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

[8] R. Robertson. “Leadership at the Bottom of the Earth… Where No One Hears You Scream”, Sir Walter Murdoch Lecture, 2010. [Podcast]. Available: http:// website URL. [Accessed: Aug. 5, 2010].

Print References

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

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

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

[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.

[3] 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.

[4] G. Pevere. “Infrared Nation.” The International Journal of Infrared Design, vol. 33, pp. 56-99, Jan. 1979.

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

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

Note: If you can’t find certain information about the source, exclude it.

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In modern IT society, it is critical to master the IEEE format. By following this comprehensive guide, you should be able to write, format, and cite the IEEE style paper with ease. However, if you still need help with writing it, our professional essay writers can create papers in any format upon your request – it’s time to get the best from our paper writing service online!

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