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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

According to this post, MLA (Modern Language Association) recommends that you "cite a generative AI tool whenever you paraphrase, quote, or incorporate into your own work any content (whether text, image, data, or other) that was created by it" (MLA Style Center). Moreover, if you use an AI tool for practical purposes such as editing your writing or translating text, you should acknowledge its use in your work.  

NOTE: This 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.

In-Text Citations

Examples:
In-text citation, direct quotation:

The book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has been described as "a poignant exploration of racial prejudice and moral integrity in a Southern town, told through the perspective of a young girl and her family" ("Mockingbird Synopsis").


In-text citation, paraphrased:

The theme that permeates all three Lord of the Rings movies is the relationship between good and evil ("Identify the main themes in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy").

NOTE: If prompts are detailed and lengthy, a more general and succinct prompt description could be used for citations ( e.g., "Themes in LOTR").

Image in text:

If incorporating an AI-generated image in the body of your text, you can include a label (e.g., Fig. for Figure) and caption for the image (see MLA Handbook 1.7). For example,   

AI-generated image using Bing Image Creator, Photorealistic image of a cat with glasses reading a book prompt
Fig. 10. "Photorealistic image of a cat with glasses reading a book" prompt, Bing Image Creator, DALL-E 2, 9 June 2023.


Basic citation for a caption (as shown above): "Description of the prompt," Name of AI tool, Version, Date generated.
NOTE: If a basic or brief citation is used in the caption, a full citation should be included in the Works Cited list.

Full citation for a caption: "Description of the prompt," Name of AI tool, Version, Organization/Developer of AI tool, Date generated, URL.
NOTE: This same information could be included in an entry for the Work Cited list.

Works Cited

Use the MLA template of core elements and its formatting / style guidelines to construct citations for the Works Cited list.

Examples:

AI-generated Text

“Identify the main themes in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy” prompt. ChatGPT, 24 May version, OpenAI, 12 June 2023, https://chat.openai.com/share/a80e77ac-25d4-4465-be8e-ed2143027f78.

  • Author.  MLA does not recommend treating AI tools as authors
  • Title of Source. Description of content created with AI tool within quotes, followed by the word prompt - “Identify the main themes in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy” prompt.
  • Title of Container, Name of AI tool in italics - ChatGPT,
  • Contributor,
  • Version, Specific version of AI tool, if version includes a date, use Day Month Year format - 24 May version,
  • Number,
  • Publisher, Organization/Developer of AI tool - OpenAI,
  • Publication Date, Date content was generated, Day Month Year - 12 June 2023,
  • Location. Use unique URL if content shareable or general URL of AI tool if content inaccessible (i.e., requires personal login or subscription), https:// protocol can be omitted or included - https://chat.openai.com/share/a80e77ac-25d4-4465-be8e-ed2143027f78.

AI-generated Images

"Photorealistic image of a cat with glasses reading a book" prompt. Bing Image Creator, DALL-E 2, Microsoft, 9 June 2023, https://th.bing.com/th/id/OIG.3WY6Wj15g9FxyVfHxtCP?pid=ImgGn.

  • Author. MLA does not recommend treating AI tools as authors
  • Title of Source. Description of content created with AI tool within quotes, followed by the word prompt - "Photorealistic image of a cat with glasses reading a book" prompt.
  • Title of Container, Name of AI tool in italics - Bing Image Creator,
  • Contributor,
  • Version, Specific version of AI tool. Bing Image Creator does not specify a version, but indicates that it is powered by DALL-E, specifically DALL-E 2 at the time of image creation. Although DALL-E is also the name of a separate AI tool that could be the Title of Container in a different citation, it is being treated as a version designation in this citation - DALL-E 2,
  • Number,
  • Publisher, Organization/Developer of AI tool - Microsoft,
  • Publication Date, Date content was generated, Day Month Year - 9 June 2023,
  • Location. Use unique URL if content shareable or general URL of AI tool if content inaccessible (i.e., requires personal login or subscription), https:// protocol can be omitted or included - https://th.bing.com/th/id/OIG.3WY6Wj15g9FxyVfHxtCP?pid=ImgGn.

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

Knowledge Check

Generative AI - MLA Citation Activity 1: True or False?

Generative AI - MLA Citation Activity 2:  Identify Citation Elements

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