ACS: American Chemical Society Citation Style: Home

This guide will show you how to cite your sources using the ACS (American Chemical Society) citation style.
  • URL:
  • Print Page
  • About ACS Style

    Developed by the American Chemical Society, this style may be used for research papers and citing resources in the field of chemistry.

    ACS style provides rules for formatting:

    • reporting original research: titles, bylines, affiliations, desciptions of chemical compounds.
    • references included in the body of your essay (in-text)
    • the reference list at the end of your essay (References)

    It may seem like citing your sources is tedious, but it's important and there are many reasons to do it.

    Each citation consists of two parts: the in-text citation, which provides brief identifying information within the text, and the reference list, a list of sources that provides full bibliographic information.

    The purpose of citing your references is to:

    • identify (cite) other people’s ideas and the information you use within your work
    • avoid plagiarism 
    • allow the reader to find your research sources
    • add credibility to your work

    This online guide is based on the ACS  Style Guide, 3rd Edition published in 2006.

    Avoiding Plagiarism

     Here are three different ways you can present information you have found in your research to consciously avoid plagiarizing.

    1. Direct quote

    When you use or copy the exact words or section of words from an author, you can surround that direct quote by quotation marks. Include the correct citation acknowledging the original author in your sentence.

    2. Summary

    Write a summary using your own words of the ideas or the text you want to use. Be original without using the words of the original work and be sure you cite that statement.

    3. Paraphrase

    Paraphrasing is similar to a summary. It just means taking what you have read and rewriting it in your own words. You must cite that paraphrase.

    ACS 3rd Edition

    ACS published a new manual of style in 2006. Many changes were made to reflect the increase in use of electronic materials and publishing formats, such as:

    • the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) in references to print and electronic sources (when available)
    • discussions of markup languages
    • writing style and word usage
    • references to many resources on the internet
    • preparation of figures, tables, and structures
    • conventions in chemistry
    • chemical structures

    Why Cite Sources

    Learn more about why citation matters and how you can avoid plagiarism. Watch this video produced by Acadia University.


    Writing Centre

    Writing Centre

    Do you need help writing your paper?  Having some concerns about citation?  Contact the Writing Centre or read their blog and make an appointment with one of their staff to help you.  


    Are you having some difficulty finding appropriate sources?  Are you unsure if an Internet source is authoritative and reliable?  Do you get overwhelmed when trying to learn about all the different databases available for you to use?  Your Librarians are available to help you.  Make and appointment for some in-person, one-on-one time with your Librarian.  Click here, fill out the form, and a librarian will contact you to set up a time.

    Need More Help?

    Instructor and Subject Citation Requirements

    Some instructors may have additional or specialized requirements for your citations.

    For example, while the current MLA format does not require you to include the full URL in your citation, some instructors prefer that you do.

    Always be aware of class requirements- check with your instructor if you're not sure!

    Learn More


    American Chemical Society Style Guide

    QD 8.5 .A25 2006




    Manage your research and citations easily with RefWorks.