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Citing Sources: Citing AI as a Source

If your professor allows you to use generative AI (artificial intelligence) tools as a source for your assignments, you will need to cite them. This page includes guidance, as of January 2024, for citing AI as a source in MLA, APA, and CMOS (Chicago).

Across these 3 citation styles, the general recommendations for using AI are that you should:

  • use AI to create text and to facilitate research, not to write a full text paper or manuscript
  • 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

Note that ChatGPT is used in the guidance and examples here, but they can be applied to other AI models too.

NCC Library Citing AI as a Source Handout

MLA Style

In-Text Citations

The in-text citation should be a shortened version of the prompt given to ChatGPT. 

Example if Paraphrasing:
Emotional abuse can lead to problems like anxiety and poor mental health (“Does emotional abuse”). 

Example if Quoting:
ChatGPT produced information stating that “emotional abuse does cause anxiety and other mental health issues when prompted for facts on emotional abuse” (“Does emotional abuse”). 

Works Cited Entries
Template of Core Elements for AI:
- It is not recommended to treat the AI tool as an author.

Title of Source
- Describe what was generated by the AI tool. You may include information about the prompt in this element if you have not done so in the text. 

Title of Container
- Use the name of the AI tool (e.g., ChatGPT).

- Name the version of the AI tool as specifically as possible, including a date if the version shows it.

- Name the company that made the tool.

- Give the date the content was generated.

- Give the general URL for the tool.

General Format: 
“Full text of the prompt” prompt. Name of the AI tool, version, Creator of the tool, date content was generated, URL. 

“Does emotional abuse cause anxiety?” prompt. ChatGPT, 14 Mar. version, OpenAI, 6 Dec. 2023, 

MLA also gives guidance for citing AI-generated Creative Visual Works, quoting Creative Textual Works, and citing Secondary Sources Used by an AI Tool. For these guidelines and more, view Ask the MLA FAQ: How do I cite generative AI in MLA style?

APA Style

In-Text Citations

The general format for citing AI in-text is (Creator of the language model, date of content generation). If you would like to give the reader access to the full-text response from ChatGPT (for longer responses), include it in an appendix at the end of your paper.

When answering the prompt “Does emotional abuse cause anxiety?” The ChatGPT generated answer indicated that “the impact of emotional abuse on mental health can be significant, leading to symptoms like anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)” (OpenAI, 2023). 

Example with appendix: 
(OpenAI, 2023; see Appendix A for the full transcript). 

Reference List Entries: 

Source Elements for AI:
Author - The author or creator of the model.

Date - Year of the version you used. Following the template in Section 10.10, you need to include only the year, not the exact date. The version number provides the specific date information a reader might need in the Month Day format. 

Title - Name of the model, with the version number included after in parentheses. Include a date if the version shows it. Briefly describe the kind of model in square brackets, typically “Large language model” but not always.

Source - In the case of ChatGPT, the publisher and the author are the same, so the publisher name is omitted. Include the URL that links as directly as possible to the page where you can access the model.

General Format: 
Creator of the language model. (Date). Name of the language model (version number) [Additional description]. URL 

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

For more, view APA Style Blog: How to cite ChatGPT.

CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style)

In most cases, you simply need to acknowledge that you used an AI tool in the text. If you’ve edited the AI-generated text, you should say so in the text or at the end of the note (e.g., “edited for style and content”). For papers, a more formal citation as a footnote or endnote is needed.

In-Text Citations

Example with prompt included: 
ChatGPT generated easy to follow steps when prompted to change a tire. 

Example without prompt:
One of the tools used in fixing a flat tire is lug wrench according to ChatGPT.

Source Elements for AI:
The author of the content is the AI tool (ChatGPT) and the publisher is the company that created the tool (OpenAI). The date is when the content was generated. Because readers can’t necessarily get to the cited content, a specific URL isn’t an essential element of the citation.

Footnotes & Endnotes:

Example if the prompt was included in-text:
1. Text generated by ChatGPT, OpenAI, December 7, 2023. 

Example if the prompt was not included in-text: 
1.  ChatGPT, response to “How do I change a tire?” OpenAI, December 7, 2023. 


Chicago indicates to omit referencing ChatGPT in the bibliography unless a publicly available, direct link to the prompt response can be provided. 

For more, view Chicago Manual of Style FAQ How to Cite AI.

NLM (National Library of Medicine)

As of January 2024, NLM has not provided citation guidance for using AI as a source, however, it is recommended that it should not be used as a source for writing assignments in NCC courses using NLM, because it is unpublished and not peer-reviewed.

Bluebook (Legal Citation)
As of January 2024, the Bluebook has not issued rules or recommendations for citing AI as a source.