I have added a paragraph from wikipedia in my thesis. Now I need to add reference to that wikipedia page. What is the IEEE formatting and citation style for that? Currently I use as below.

In chapter of thesis added copied content from wikipedia as below

The waterfall development model originates in the manufacturing and construction industries; highly structured physical environments in which after-the-fact changes are prohibitively costly, if not impossible. Since no formal software development methodologies existed at the time, this hardware-oriented model was simply adapted for software development [1].

In References page

[1] (2014, April 22). Waterfall Model [Online]. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfall_model

  • 2
    When you copy content verbatim, you must put it in quotation marks or a block quote in addition to adding a citation. What you are doing now is considered plagiarism.
    – ff524
    Jan 1, 2015 at 7:29
  • @ff524 I have updated with quotation marks. Is that correct now ?
    – Bishan
    Jan 1, 2015 at 7:46
  • 1
    My previous comment was about verbatim content in general; for very long quotes like in this example, use a block quote as shown here. (What you have now is an improvement, because it's not plagiarism anymore, but it's bad style.)
    – ff524
    Jan 1, 2015 at 7:52
  • 1
    The citation number is not part of the passage quoted, so should appear outside the quotation marks.
    – Jessica B
    Jan 1, 2015 at 9:48
  • 4
    In citing wikipedia, you make it harder for your examiners to pass you, and easier for them to fail you. Are you sure that's what you want to do?
    – 410 gone
    Jan 1, 2015 at 10:41

5 Answers 5


For correct citation of Wikipedia, see Wikipedia's guide to citing Wikipedia. Since you are using IEEE styles, you should probably be using BibTeX to manage your citation, in which case you can directly use the BibTeX formatting template provided.

  • 1
    +1: Answers the actual question at hand instead of simply advising to not cite Wikipedia.
    – Paul Omans
    Dec 14, 2015 at 20:47

Citing Wikipedia is always risky. Not everybody consides it to be reliable, and high-quality.

May I suggest a very simple approach: find a better reference.

By definition of an encyclopedia, it is supposed to give a brief and aggregated overview only. So there must be a better source somewhere.

Citing Wikipedia is often indicative of “did not bother to look up the real source, but used the first hit on google”. This is probably not what you want your reviewers to write...

  • +1: It is often the case in my experience where I found myself or others wanting to source a specific section of a Wikipedia article, instead of the entire article. In that case, I found the specific source or sources that the article referenced, and cited those instead, modifying quotes as necessary (as sources on Wikipedia are sometimes paraphrased and not the exact source text). I have never had an issue where I wanted to source the entire Wikipedia article, although I must admit I have never written an academic research paper on my own that was longer than 10 pages.
    – Paul Omans
    Dec 14, 2015 at 20:44

IEEE Publications use Webster’s College Dictionary, 4th Edition as formatting and the IEEE Citation Reference is available here. But as @EnergyNumbers commented earlier, primary references to wikipedia are not always well received.


There are very few circumstances (e.g. if you are doing research about Wikipedia) when it is legitimate to cite anything from Wikipedia (or any other encyclopedia, for that matter).

If you think your case is such a legitimate one, please cite the specific version of the article using its permalink.


Usually a Wiki page has its own reference. Read through the reference for the Wiki page, and maybe cite it (the wiki page's reference) instead citing the Wiki page in your writing.

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