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ACS: American Chemical Society Citation Style

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Where to Begin

Whenever you consult a source while conducting research you must gather specific infomration about that source to create accurate and full citations.

Follow these steps to help you avoid plagiariasm and practice academic integrity.

1. Record Your Research

2. Organize

3. Cite

4. List


 Record Your Research

 When you are reading a book, journal article, or other document, record all of the information (bibliographical elements) necessary to create a citation.  That means that you should record such information as:

  • names of author
  • titles of book
  • titles of database
  • the page numbers for direct quotations
  • titles of journal articles
  • date of retrieval
  • page ranges

 The descriptive elements for a variety of document types are listed below. Keeping a record of all the information necessary to create your references is very important to ensure accuracy of your work and to avoid plagiariam.

Be careful when you have photocopied articles from journals or chapters from books. You must keep a record of the journal where the article was published or the book where you found the chapter. Note: you may not need to use all of these elements for every citation.

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 Whole Book

  • author’s surname and initials or given name
  • title of publication
  • title of series, if applicable
  • volume number or number of volumes, if applicable
  • edition, if not the first
  • editor, reviser, compiler or translator, if other than the author
  • publisher
  • place of publication (first named)
  • year of publication
  • page number/s, if applicable

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  Parts of books (Chapters, sections, conference papers, etc.)

In addition to the details for the Whole Book (see above) record the following information specific to the part you are using.

  • Author's surname and initials or given name (of the part)
  • Title of the part
  • Inclusive page numbers of the part

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  Journal articles

  • Author’s surname and initials or given name
  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal
  • Volume and issue number
  • Year of publication
  • Inclusive page numbers 

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Electronic documents

Some examples of electronic format documents are

  • web site pages
  • journal articles published on the internet
  • online newspaper articles
  • journal articles retrieved from a fulltext database

For electronic journal articles record the bibliographic elements as you would for journal articles. In addition, record relevant data from the following list.

It can be difficult to find some of the information you will need.  Not all electronic documents have an obvious author or title so you will have to thoroughly examine the article. Sometimes electronic publication do not use pagination.  In that case you must keep track of the paragraph number of the section you are using in your assignment. Some documents are published in both paper and electronic formats, for example, government reports and journal articles. Cite according to the format you have accessed, not both formats.

The following is a list of common bibliographic elements you may need to record for citation of an electronic document. This list is comprehensive. The elements you record will depend upon the type of electronic document you are describing.

  • Authors surname and initials or given name if present
  • Title of the document
  • Title of the webpage
  • Database name
  • Page or section numbers if given
  • Format (online or cdrom or electronic if you are not sure)
  • Year of publication or latest update date
  • Internet address
  • DOI

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Be sure you save this information, and the original documents if you have them, in a format you can easily access at a later date. You may wish to write all details on the print copy of an article you are using; or you may wish to keep a system of filing cards for each reference item you use. Alternatively, you may decide to maintain a master reference list on your computer, which you add details to as required. There are a number of software packages now available, for example, RefWorks, which you can use to create databases of your references. These programs can be used to produce reference or works cited lists in a specified style. Please enquire at the Reference Desk in the Library for more information about training sessions and software for RefWorks.

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Construct your citations within the text of your essay, using the appropriate guidelines for the style of citation you are using.

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Create either a reference or works cited list at the end of your paper or assignment. The use of capitals and punctuation should be consistent and will vary according to the citation style being used.

  • The usual arrangement for a reference or works cited list for author-date is a single sequence in alphabetical order by author, with the author's surname preceding the initials or given name. Where an item has no author, it is usual to list it alphabetically by title in the reference list or bibliography in sequence by the first significant word of the title (APA or MLA)
  • The usual arrangement for a reference or works cited list for notational styles is a single sequence in numerical order (Chicago)

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Writing Style

  • avoid slang and jargon
  • write concisely
  • use active voice
  • ensure verb agreement
  • be brief

Standard Format

  • Title
  • Byline and affiliation
  • Abstract
  • Intoduction
  • Experimental
  • Details
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conculsion
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Special Sections

Learn More


American Chemical Society Style Guide

QD 8.5 .A25 2006