Skip to Main Content

Citation Style Guide

This guide was created to provide basic instruction on commonly-used citation styles across the faculties of Dalhousie University.

AI and your course assignments

  • Always confirm with your professor whether AI tools like ChatGPT are allowed for each assignment
  • Always verify information and sources generated by AI tools
    • AI has been known to generate false information and to cite non-existent sources
    • AI-generated text mines people's intellectual property without crediting them, which raises ethical concerns
  • In styles without specific guidance, information generated from AI tools is cited as personal communication; as personal communication is unrecoverable, it is cited in the text only and is not included on the references list
    • Some of this guidance may be updated as recommendations evolve

APA style

APA views quotes from a ChatGPT chat session as akin to sharing an algorithm’s output, and recommend crediting the author of the algorithm with a reference list entry and the corresponding in-text citation.

In-text citations

  • In-text citation rule: (Algorithm author, year)
  • Parenthetical citation: (OpenAI, 2023)
  • Narrative citation: OpenAI (2023)

In-text citation example (from APA style blog): When prompted with “Is the left brain right brain divide real or a metaphor?” the ChatGPT-generated text indicated that although the two brain hemispheres are somewhat specialized, “the notation that people can be characterized as ‘left-brained’ or ‘right-brained’ is considered to be an oversimplification and a popular myth” (OpenAI, 2023).

Reference list

OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model].

Please note (as per APA style blog): "The format for the version number in ChatGPT references includes the date because that is how OpenAI is labeling the versions. Different large language models or software might use different version numbering; use the version number in the format the author or publisher provides, which may be a numbering system (e.g., Version 2.0) or other methods."

MLA style

The Modern Language Association provides detailed guidance on citing generative AI according to their template.

Chicago style

The following two articles from the Chicago Style Q&A may be helpful to review:

University of Chicago Press generally recommends acknowledging the use of an AI tool in your text, but gives the following examples as format citations (examples drawn from "Citation, Documentation of Sources" on Chicago Style Q&A blog) :

Chicago Style with footnotes

1 Text generated by ChatGPT, OpenAI, March 7, 2023, 

If the prompt hasn't been included in the text, it can be included in the note:

1 ChatGPT, response to "Explain how to make pizza dough from common household ingredients," OpenAI, March 7, 2023, 

Chicago Author-Date

Any information not included in the text is placed in the parenthetical reference. Example: 

  • (ChatGPT, March 7, 2023)


Vancouver style

In the absence of formal recommendations from the NLM Style Guide, students and researchers can cite as personal communication. The NLM Style Guide recommends that personal communications are only cited in the text, and are not included in the reference list. Generally, the Vancouver referencing style uses numbered in-text citations, but for personal communications the advice is as follows:

  • provide information about the personal communication within the text
  • Include the nature and source of the cited information
  • indicate clearly that no corresponding citation is in the reference list (e.g. include the term 'unreferenced' or similar)

Example: In response to the question ..., OpenAI's ChatGPT gave the following response ... (2023 Feb 22, unreferenced).

CSE style

The Council of Science Editors recommends treating AI-generated content as personal communication. Personal communication advice is as follows:

  • Cite personal communication in-text only, NOT in the References section
  • Include a description of the content that was created or edited and the name of the language model or tool, version and extension numbers, and manufacturer

Example: I wanted to see how it would respond to a prompt to "create a nonexistent dinosaur" (ChatGPT [OpenAI], response to question from author, 6 April 2023).