I've come across several documents that say something like "please use the following reference to the whole report:," or "reference to this report may be made in the following form:"

Maybe this is a dumb question, but is it necessary to abide by these suggested references, or are they simply examples that lay out the components of an accurate reference? Incorporating them into my bibliography as-is without context seems like it will raise eyebrows.

2 Answers 2


It doesn't mean the format or referencing style. As you say, it is just laying out the components of an accurate reference, or the components they want you to use.

For example if there are several possible URLs for a paper, you should use the one they give. If a conference name can be abbreviated or written in full, you should write it the way they suggest.

  • 11
    I agree with using their URL, but abbreviating or not abbreviating the conference name should be consistent across your reference section at least, and possibly conform to an external style guide. These are not possible to combined with following each reference's suggested style.
    – Clumsy cat
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 10:49
  • 2
    Its possible that there are several possible ways to abbreviate a name so they may have some preferred form, when the abbreviation is the suggested style.
    – Rob
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 12:30
  • Conversely, I would presume that there are at least a few conferences (across all disciplines) that share abbreviations. So if that's a known issue for a specific conference, spelling it out may be preferred to avoid confusion.
    – Bobson
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:15
  • I agree with the comments and deleted the part about conference names. I can't think of another good example, but the answer is clear enough .
    – gib
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:53

They are suggestions and requests, not requirements, provided that they refer to the form and not the content. Some content requests should probably be honored, such as the order and spelling of author names.

Some such names might be related to cultural norms, such as the relative placement of family and personal names. Other things, such as author order, might be deemed important in some fields.

It is probably best to honor these things unless there is a reason to deviate, just out of respect for the authors.

One reason that you might need to deviate is to conform with the requirements of a journal for specific formatting style if you include such a citation.

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