There are a few reference citing formats around but I'd like to know what's the relevant information to put in a reference in general. If I want to cite a book, what should go in the reference other than the title which is obvious, same for other media? By formatting I mean content, punctuation, font, size, typography, etc...

My second question is: do references undergo any modifications when the medium in which they are referenced changes (paper, article, tutorial, etc...).

  • 1
    For book citations, you may want to put the relevant chapter(s) if there are not too many and if the formatting convention allows it.
    – Khaur
    Jan 14, 2013 at 10:14
  • @Khaur What's the dissertation format mostly used in Computer Science?
    – mrk
    Jan 15, 2013 at 12:09
  • Please clarify what you mean by dissertation format, I don't see what kind of answer you expect.
    – Khaur
    Jan 15, 2013 at 12:39

3 Answers 3


Every publication type has some specific metadata that should be given in any citation.

For a book, these would be:

  • Authors or editors for an edited book
  • Title
  • Year of publication
  • Information on the publisher (mostly name and address)

For a journal article, you should include:

  • Authors
  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal
  • Volume of the journal
  • Page numbers or article identification number for journals without page numbers.

Generally, looking at the required fields for a bibtex entry may give you an idea of what are the required pieces of information for any publication type.

Note that some journals don't generally include the title for journal citations, but I find that inconvenient for the reader. There may by additional information depending on the citation style, for example the issue number for citing journal articles, URLs, ISBN/ISSN. But these additional pieces of information, the formatting and even the ordering of the information in the reference generally depend on publication venue, as Suresh wrote in his answer. The key information however should be the same for each citations style.


Formatting and desired content depend mostly on the publication venue. Most journals have a citation style, and will often provide a style file for the bibliography manager that you use. So it depends on what venue you have in mind.

If you don't have a venue in mind, then you can use any standard format that's used in your area of study.

  • 2
    Equivalently: How do the works that you're planning to cite do it? Do that.
    – JeffE
    Jan 13, 2013 at 21:21
  • @Suresh Have you read the question? It says 'in general'. I don't consider this to be an answer.
    – mrk
    Jan 14, 2013 at 18:13
  • 2
    @saadtaame my point is that there is no such thing as "general". There is only the venue that you are considering. As JeffE also says, different communities have their own customs, and so you should look at the papers you're citing. For example, it's common in biology not to list the title of a paper, but merely the authors and the venue. In my area of CS, this would be a weird thing to do. Now one might think that the title is unquestionably part of the reference "in general", but this examples shows that it's not.
    – Suresh
    Jan 14, 2013 at 18:54
  • @Suresh Okay, do you have time to give some CS examples?
    – mrk
    Jan 14, 2013 at 19:13
  • For a typical CS venue, title/authors/conference/pages/year is sufficient.
    – Suresh
    Jan 14, 2013 at 20:43

Check out the IEEE citation reference [PDF] for an example of how the IEEE (Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) does its citations for different media.

They definitely change what information appears, depending on the medium.

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