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IEEE - Referencing Guide

Electronic Documents


  References for electronic documents begin with the same information that would be provided for a printed source.

Additional information must be provided (depending on the type of electronic publication) to correctly identify that you accessed the document in an electronic format.

An electronic publication could be an internet site, an email, a journal article published on the internet, or a journal article retrieved from a full text database.

Some documents are published in both paper and electronic formats. Please cite according to the format you accessed.

Be aware that pagination may not be specified for many online publications. The number of the starting page can be included in your citation if it is given, and/or the number of pages in the document. For example: p. 7+ or (5 pp.) .

Information Required

Below is a guide to what information you may need to record when citing an electronic document:

name of author(s) if given

year or date of publication (or date site was created or updated)

title of document

title of web site or database

pages, sections or paragraphs (if given)

date you accessed the site

database name (if appropriate)

internet address (if appropriate)

digitial object identifier (DOI) (if appropriate)


A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique alpha-numeric string, used to identify electronic documents, which provides a persistent link to its location on the internet.

A DOI is assigned to a document when it is published.

All DOI numbers begin with and contain a prefix of four or more digits and a suffix separated by a slash:

When a DOI is long or complex, you may use 'shortDOIs'. Use the shortDOI service provided by the International DOI Foundation to create shortDOIs.

A DOI is usually located with the author and title information or on the first page of an electronic article. You may need to open the abstract or full text of an article to find it

When referencing an electronic document, include the DOI if one is assigned - if no DOI is assigned, include the URL if appropriate.


For specific examples, please see:

E-books, E-journals or Internet Documents.

Evaluating Electronic Resources

Criteria for evaluating internet sites and other electronic resources include:

Who is the author? It is important to check the author's credentials to determine whether he/she has the knowledge and authority to supply credible information. Check to see if any contact details are provided.

How current is the information? See when the document was created and when it was last updated.

What is the author's interest in the material? Can you detect any bias in the content and are you able to determine the purpose of the site? Check the web address to identify the type of organisation producing the document. Be aware that commercial interests and some politically motivated sites may not present a balanced view.

What sort of content is there? Can the content be considered comprehensive and of good quality? Does it provide links to other documents? Check which audience the information is aimed at.

See the All Examples page for examples of in-text and reference list entries for specific resources such as articles, books, and web pages.