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Citing Sources in Chemistry: Citations

Why Cite?

Providing citations to the work of others you use to create your paper shows that you are using information ethically and honestly. Citing sources gives credit where credit is due and provides readers with a trail of breadcrumbs, which they may use to learn more about your topic and to follow your line of reasoning. Also, citing your sources shows that you have done the work and respect the intellectual property of the people you cite. Each academic discipline tends to have its own separate citation style, often modeled after the core journals in its field.

ACS Citation Style

The ACS Style Guide gives clear examples of how to prepare citations for your paper. Examples of parenthetical and reference list citations are given.

The Libraries, Writing Resource Center, and Chemistry Department have the 3rd edition of the ACS Style Guide. We encourage students to refer to the ACS Publishing Guidelines for updates. Should you have questions regarding ACS citations, please consult with your faculty member. The staff at the Libraries and Writing Resource Center are happy to help as well.

Citations Explained

Citations are made in the body of the text (parenthetical citation) and grouped together at the end of a work (reference list).

Parenthetical Citations, or in-line/in-text citations, are made in the text at the point where the material is used. Journal articles in analytical chemistry use a superscript number at the point cited.


The reaction was carried out using a standard Lever apparatus 5 with modifcations as described by Grunkemeyer et al. 6-7


Numerical reference citations are numbered consecutively from the beginning of a paper. When, occasionally, a reference is repeated in the text, the original number is used, a new number is not given. Use last names to identify authors in parenthetical citations. If a work has two authors, use both last names linked together with the word "and". If a referenced work has more than two authors, use only the first author followed by the phrase "et al."


Hervert and Lance 12 determined that....

Vogt et al. 24 found ....


Sometimes the same first author publishes different papers on similar topics with different co-authors. To reference multiple works by the same principle author, use a phrase such as "and colleagues" or "and co-workers".


Brugh and co-workers 17, 23-25 established ....

Reference List is given at the conclusion of a work. This list contains only the sources actually referenced or cited in the work. If a source is consulted but not used or cited in a work, it is not listed in the References Cited section.

Journal Article

Author 1; Author 2; Author 3. Title of Article. Journal Abbreviation Year, Volume, Inclusive Pagination.

Ehara, Y.; Sakamot, K.; Marumo, Y. A method for forensic identification of  
          vegetable oil stains: Rapid analysis of carboxylic acids with methyl  
          esterfication using purge-and trap gas chromotography/mass spectrometry.  
          J. Foren. Sci. 2001, 46, 1462-1469.



Author 1; Author 2; etc. Book Title; Publisher: Place of Publication, Year; Inclusive Pagination.

Dodd, J.S. The ACS Style Guide, 2nd. ed.; ACS: Washington, D.C., 1997,  173-229.


Edited Volume

Author 1; Author 2; etc. Chapter Title. In Book Title; Editor 1,  
          Editor 2, etc., Eds.; Series Information (if any);Publisher: Place  
          of Publication, Year; Inclusive Pagination.

Adams, M.R; Garton, A., Eds;  Far-Ultraviolet Degredation of Selected  
          Polymers. In Polymer Durability: Degredation, Stabilizatioon,  
          and Lifetime Prediction; Clough, R.L., Billingham, N.C.,  
          Gillen, K.T., Rds.;  Advances in Chemistry Series 249;  
          ACS: Washington, DC. 1996, 139-158.



Author (if any). Title of Site. URL (accessed date). 

Peoples, D.C. Resources for Chemistry 360 Instrumental Analysis. (September 2, 2002). 

Citation Tips

  • Journal titles are usually capitalized sentence-style.
  • Book titles are usually capitalized book-title style.
  • Journal names are always abbreviated.
  • Authors are generally identified by last name and first initials.
  • Pay attention to punctuation placement - periods, commas, and semi-colons.
  • Pay attention to italics and bolding.
  • Reference lists usually have the second line of entry indented, though this can vary with publication.
  • URLs can be cumbersome, and it is not necessary to indent the second line of these entries.
  • Article titles are often omitted from reference list entries - this varies by publication.
  • The ACS Style Guide is an excellent resource, so please use it!