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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

Vancouver Style, also referred to as ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) or Uniform Requirements Style, is a citation style that is commonly used in the health and biomedical sciences. 

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) offers guidance to authors in its publication Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (ICMJE Recommendations), which was formerly the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts. 

Vancouver Style editors have not yet published official recommendations on citing AI-generated content. Based on pre-existing guidelines for other content types, the recommendations that most closely align with AI-generated content relate to personal communications and software, depending on the context.

For the most up-to-date official guidance, visit:

Citing an AI Model

To cite an AI model itself, as opposed to citing any specific content that it generated, use the standard format for software citation.

From the National Library of Medicine:

Software on the Internet

Publisher is optional and place of publication is not needed. Strive to include an Available from: note with a URL or a doi: xxxxxxx note. Other helpful notes can be added at the end such as a System Requirements note.

Hayes B, Tesar B, Zurow K. OTSoft: Optimality Theory Software. Version 2.3.2 [software]. 2013 Jan 14 [cited 2015 Feb 14]. Available from:

Golda TG, Hough PD, Gay G. APPSPACK (Asynchronous Parallel Pattern Search). Version 5.0.1 [software]. Sandia National Laboratories. 2007 Feb 16 [cited 2016 Apr 4; downloaded 2010 Jan 5]. Available from:

In-text citations: Vancouver style uses a number to mark in-text citations, and the reference list is in numerical order according to the order in which the reference appears in the paper. The numbers used in-text can appear in brackets (2) or as superscript².

In-text example:

Our group members used ChatGPT¹ to experiment with the use of a Large Language Model (LLM) for personalized mental health coaching, and found that...

Generic software citation format for references list:

#. Rightsholder. Application title. Version number, if one exists [software]. [cited YYY Mon DD]. Available from: URL.


1. OpenAI. ChatGPT. Version 3.5 [software]. [cited 2024 Feb 06]. Available from:

Citing AI-Generated Output

Citing AI-generated output when you can include a link to the source material (prompt and output details):

  • If the option is available, you should provide a stable, publicly available link for viewing the source material; this will allow the reader to find and review the full-text as they would any other type of source (e.g., a book chapter or journal article)
  • Include both an in-text citation and an entry in your references list at the end of your paper. 

General format (reference list):

Name of author engaging with AI Tool (Your name; or if not you, author's department/team name, organization, province/state). Output requested from: Name of AI tool (Name of developer). Date YYYY Mon DD. Available from: URL

NOTE: URL where the reader can access the source material, .e.g., Google Gemini public page and link; links generated by third-party software like A.I. Archives; link to a website where the prompt and output details have been shared in full, i.e., blog post, article, etc.

Example (citing yourself as author engaging with tool):

Student, A. Output requested from: ChatGPT (OpenAI). 2023 Feb 06. Available from:

Example (citing someone else's engagement with tool):

Mills, J (Clinical Standards, Provincial Health, ON). Output requested from: ChatGPT (OpenAI). 2024 Jan 15. Available from:

Citing AI-generated output when you cannot include a link to the source material:

  • If you are citing AI-generated content and cannot provide a shareable link for viewing the source material, you may opt to follow the guidelines for personal communication and/or non-recoverable data.
  • Include an in-text citation, but not an entry in your references list at the end of your paper. 

In-Text Citation Elements:

Type of Communication, Communicator, Date (DD MMM YYYY)

  • NOTE: In 'type of communication', consider including any and all relevant details, including the prompt you communicated to the AI model.


1. In a textual exchange with Open AI's ChatGPT-4 (06 Feb 2024) ...

2. GPT-4 outlined 16 categories of 'fake news', describing the characteristics and purpose of each (ChatGPT-4 response, prompt for "types of fake news", 06 Feb 2024).

3. ...(Microsoft Copilot paraphrase, personal communication, 06 Feb 2024).

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

Citing Your AI-generated Images

Vancouver style uses the terminology 'figures' for drawings, paintings, photographs, and other types of images. 

  • When including an AI-generated image in-text, add a credit line in the figure caption
  • Figures should be labelled "Figure 1", "Figure 2", etc.
  • Refer to each figure in the body of the text in the same format as above
  • Include its reference number in parentheses; e.g., if it is the 4th source cited in your document, the reference number will be (4)

  • NOTE: If you are writing for publication (journal article, conference paper, etc.), Vancouver Style specifies that you must obtain written permission from the copyright owner to include the figure in your work, and state the permission in the source citation as 'Reprinted with permission from...'. As issues pertaining to intellectual property and copyright of AI-generated content are the subject of court proceedings currently in-progress, official guidance in this regard remains undetermined.


Figure 1. Image generated using Google Gemini from the prompt 'AI-generated image of an intergalactic health sciences library' 

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