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How Do I Cite Generative AI?

A guide to citing AI-generated content in APA, MLA, Chicago, IEEE, and Vancouver styles.

Latest Recommendations

NOTEThis guidance is subject to change as each style develops its standards. Please check with the publisher of each style for the most current guidance, or consult with your instructor or a librarian. 

UPDATE (February 23, 2024): APA Journals has published policies on the use of generative AI in scholarly materials. These guidelines are for authors submitting their work to APA scholarly publications. The new guidance is as follows:

For this policy, AI refers to generative LLM AI tools and does not include grammar-checking software, citation software, or plagiarism detectors.

  • When a generative artificial intelligence (AI) model is used in the drafting of a manuscript for an APA publication, the use of AI must be disclosed in the methods section and cited.
  • AI cannot be named as an author on an APA scholarly publication.
  • When AI is cited in an APA scholarly publication, the author must employ the software citation template, which includes specifying in the methods section how, when, and to what extent AI was used. Authors in APA publications are required to upload the full output of the AI as supplemental material.

When citing AI-generated output, the APA Style team notes in their blog post that it's essential to credit:

  • The creators of the AI model
  • The specific version of the model you used

The APA Style team is currently seeking recommendations from APA Journal editors related to manuscript byline credit, plagiarism, and related ChatGPT and AI topics. APA Style guidelines based on those recommendations will be posted on the APA Style site.

If using an AI model in your research and/or writing, include a description of how you used the model in an appropriate section of your paper, e.g., in your methods section, or, for a literature review or response paper, in your introduction. 

Citing an AI Model in APA

To cite the AI model itself, treat the model as a software as outlined in Section 10.10 of the Publication Manual (American Psychological Association, 2020, Chapter 10). This will involve crediting the author of the algorithm (i.e., the creator/developer of the LLM) with a reference list entry and the corresponding in-text citation.

Basic format:

Author/Creator/Developer. (Year). Model name (Version) [Large language model]. URL


OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (May 24 version) [Large language model].

  • Author. APA recommends citing the creator (i.e., author/developer) of the model as the author (note: this is not the case for all citation styles, e.g., MLA).
  • (Publication Date). Date of content creation - only need to include year. 2023.
  • Name of the ModelThe name of the model serves as the title and is italicized in your reference. ChatGPT.
  • (Version specification). Identify the version you used in the format the author or publisher provides, which may be a numbering system (e.g., Version 2.0) or other methods. (May 24 version).
  • [Additional description to provide context for the reader]. Bracketed text providing additional context is often included in APA citations for less common sources. For text-based generative AI, APA recommends providing the descriptor “Large language model” or "Large multimodal model" in square brackets. Pending further recommendations, use your best discretion based on how the creators/publishers describe the model you're citing. [Large language model].
  • URL. When the publisher name and the author name are the same, do not repeat the publisher name in the source element of the reference, and move directly to the most direct URL available to access the model.

NOTE: Colour added to citation elements is for illustrative purposes - should not be included in actual references

In-text Citations & References

The APA Style team has likened citing the output from an AI model to sharing an algorithm's output. It must be noted that the output was generated by a Large Language Model (LLM) and the model identified.

In-text citation example, direct quotation:

When prompted with the question "is the beaver a destructive animal?", the ChatGPT-generated text indicated that "the influence of beavers on their environment can be both constructive and destructive, contingent on the particular context" (OpenAI, 2023).

Note: In their updated blog post, the APA Style Team suggests that "you may also put the full text of long responses from ChatGPT in an appendix of your paper or in online supplemental materials, so readers have access to the exact text that was generated." In this case, your in-text citation would be adjusted; e.g., (OpenAI, 2023; see Appendix A for the full transcript).

In-text citation example, paraphrased:

ChatGPT-generated text indicated that the categorization of beavers as 'destructive' or 'constructive' is multifaceted and not simply binary (OpenAI, 2023; see Appendix A for the full transcript).

Note: ChatGPT may not cite any sources unless 'web access' is turned on, or you've specifically requested them in your prompt. Even if references are requested, it is known to make up, or "hallucinate" sources that do not exist. Other AI models such as Bing AI Chat do cite sources, but it is important to assess the quality and reliability of each one individually. For example, when prompted with "Is the beaver a destructive animal?", Bing AI chat generated a response that cites a source promoting pest control practices and exterminators, which should be recognized as potentially representing a biased or unbalanced perspective (prompt output example, highlighted in blue):

Beavers are known to be one of the most destructive animals in the world1They build dams on waterways which prevents water from flowing downstream and causes problems for the ecosystem because it affects other living things too1Beavers can also be very destructive to property1. However, beavers are also paradoxical creatures; they create and destroy at the same time. Beaver dams flood valuable timber and beavers cut down thousands of trees around their dams. However, the flooding leads to increased fertility in the land, which is favorable to new plant and animal life2.

Learn more:


2. courses.hamilton.edu3.


General format, references list:

Author/Developer. (Year). Model name (version) [Large language model].URL

References list example:
OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (May 24 version) [Large language model].

AI-generated Images

The APA Style team has not yet published any official guidance on citing AI-generated images.

These are the existing recommendations for citing images and AI-generated content in APA format:

General format for citing an image:

Last Name, Initials. (Year). Image title or description [Image format]. Website name. URL

General format for citing generative AI:

Author/Developer. (Year). Model name (Version) [Large language model]. URL


Based on these existing recommendations, here is an example of how you might include and cite an AI-generated image in your coursework:

In-text citation:

(Microsoft Bing & OpenAI, 2023)

Body of paper:

Figure 1

Example of an AI-generated image

Example of an AI generated image; prompt: Impressionist style painting of a farm on the moon

Note. Image generated using the prompt "Impressionist style painting of a farm on the moon," by Microsoft Bing and OpenAI, Image Creator, 2023 (


Reference list:

Microsoft Bing & OpenAI. (2023). Image Creator (DALL-E 2) [AI image generator].


Knowledge Check


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