Citing ChatGPT and AI Generative Content

Introduction to ChatGPT and AI Citations

In our increasingly digitized world, the boundary between human intellect and artificial intelligence is growing thinner daily. A striking testament to this is the advent of sophisticated AI models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. This conversational agent, designed to simulate human-like text responses, has profoundly reshaped our approach to various tasks – from drafting emails to penning creative content and developing code to generating insightful analytical reports.

However, with this incredible advancement comes a novel responsibility, especially in academic and professional work – the necessity to correctly cite AI tools and outputs. Maintaining the integrity of our work, upholding ethical practices, and giving due credit to these powerful tools that aid us in our endeavors are paramount.

One might wonder why citation is necessary for machine-generated content. The answer lies in acknowledging the intellectual and computational prowess behind these AI models. Just as we cite human authors for their creative or intellectual output, it is only fair that we cite AI models like ChatGPT that create human-like content. By doing so, we give credit to the developers and data scientists who’ve invested their skills and time in creating these advanced models, and we also highlight the role these models play in shaping our research and work.

But how do we cite an AI model? The landscape of citation guidelines has traditionally been built around human-authored sources, so how can they be adapted to accommodate AI-authored content? This guide is here to demystify that process for you. So let’s look at how we can understand and adapt to the fascinating overlap of artificial intelligence and citation practices.

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How to cite ChatGPT in APA Style

In the APA (American Psychological Association) style, commonly used in the social sciences, the correct citation of sources is crucial for maintaining the integrity of any academic writing. When citing advanced AI models such as ChatGPT, it’s important to understand that these are typically treated as software, and the citation should reflect that.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to create an APA citation for ChatGPT:

  • Author: In the case of software, the author is usually the organization or company that developed it. For ChatGPT, this is OpenAI.
  • Year: The year of publication or release should be included. For instance, if you’re citing the third version of ChatGPT, which was released in 2020, you would include “(2020)” after OpenAI.
  • Title and version: Next, state the software’s name and the version number if applicable. In this case, it would be “ChatGPT (Version 3)”.
  • Format: Following the title and version, you need to clarify the format in which the software is presented. For ChatGPT and similar AI models, this would be “[Computer software].”

Now, let’s put it all together:

OpenAI. (2020). ChatGPT (Version 3) [Computer software].

This citation allows readers to identify the AI model you’re referencing, understand who developed it, know when it was released, and locate it online if they need to check or use it themselves. Remember, maintaining accurate and consistent citations is key to producing quality academic work.

Quoting or Reproducing the Text Created by ChatGPT in Your Paper

In academia, it’s common to encounter situations where you might want to quote or reproduce the text generated by an AI model such as ChatGPT. With the growing ubiquity of AI in various fields, citing AI-generated content is becoming more frequent. So how does one go about this in an appropriate and ethical manner?

Consider AI-generated text as equivalent to any other source. If you were to quote a book, a journal article, or a website, you would follow specific protocols, right for works cited? The same holds true when quoting AI-generated text. It’s crucial to treat the text as a direct quote, place it in quotation marks, and provide an in-text citation.

Let’s consider you’re using APA style. Start with the AI-generated text you want to quote and ensure it is enclosed within quotation marks. This signifies that the words are not your own but borrowed from another source. Following the quoted text, provide an in-text citation. An in-text citation allows the reader to locate the full citation in the reference list at the end of your document.

For instance, if you are quoting text generated by ChatGPT, your citation might look something like this:

“As AI technologies continue to evolve, they are becoming increasingly integrated into our daily lives (OpenAI, 2020).”

Here “OpenAI” is the organization responsible for creating ChatGPT, and “2020” signifies the year of the AI model’s release. The in-text citation should be included immediately after the quote to ensure that it’s clear where the quoted material originates from.

Reproducing the text created by AI models such as ChatGPT can provide unique insights and perspectives in your paper. However, it’s equally important to cite these sources correctly, respect intellectual property, and uphold academic integrity.

Creating a Reference to ChatGPT or Other AI Models and Software

When referencing AI models like ChatGPT or other software tools, there are a few critical components to ensure your citation is complete and effective. Here are the core elements that should be included in your citation, regardless of the specific citation style you’re using:

  • Author: This refers to the developer or organization that created the software. In the case of ChatGPT, the author would be OpenAI. Remember, even though a machine generates the text, the team of developers and data scientists behind the machine deserve the credit.
  • Date: Include the year of the software’s release or publication. If the software has multiple versions, you should provide the release year of the version you used. For instance, if you used ChatGPT-3 for your work, the year would be 2020.
  • Title: The title refers to the name of the software or AI model. It should be written in italics to differentiate it from other text, for example, ChatGPT.
  • Source: Lastly, provide the URL or location where the software can be found or accessed. This will usually be the URL of the software’s official website.

Now, let’s combine all these components to create a reference to ChatGPT. In APA style, it would look something like this:

OpenAI. (2020). ChatGPT (Version 3) [Computer software].

This reference indicates where the information came from, allowing others to trace the source if needed.

Creating proper references for AI models and software helps maintain transparency in your work, giving credit where it’s due and providing a resource for readers to explore the tool for themselves.

Citing generative AI content for specific referencing styles

In the digital age, generative AI models like ChatGPT have revolutionized how we create and disseminate information. Many traditional referencing styles don’t have explicit guidelines when citing such AI content. This is primarily because AI-generated content is nonrecoverable, meaning it cannot be retrieved or linked like a standard online source.

However, it’s still necessary to give credit to these advanced tools. As such, it’s generally recommended to base the reference for generative AI content on the referencing style used for personal communication or correspondence.

Let’s explore how this can be done in the APA 7th referencing style:

The APA 7th style is commonly used in the social sciences. The following examples demonstrate how to cite generative AI in in-text citations and the reference list:


  • Author of a generative AI model, Year of the version used


  • (OpenAI, 2023)
  • OpenAI (2023)

Reference list:

Author of AI model used. (Year of AI model used). Name of AI model used (Version of AI model used) [Type or description of AI model used]. The web address of the AI model used


OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Dec 20 version) [Large language model].

Including the full transcript of a response in an appendix or other supplementary materials can further elucidate the context of the AI-generated content.

When using AI content, remember to check the referencing style used in your academic or professional environment for how to cite generative AI. If no specific guidelines are provided, following the format of the examples above can ensure that you’re giving appropriate credit to the AI models used in your work.

For more information, visit How to Cite ChatGPT.

How to cite ChatGPT in MLA style

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is widely used in the humanities, particularly in writing on language and literature. When citing a piece of software like ChatGPT in MLA style, you’ll generally include the name of the software, the name of the organization or individual who developed it, and the date of its creation or release. The URL is usually not required unless the source is hard to locate without it or your instructor or publisher specifically asks for it. Here is a guide on how to cite generative AI in MLA style from the MLA website.

Here’s how you can cite ChatGPT in MLA style:

OpenAI. “ChatGPT.” 2020.

This citation indicates that the software, ChatGPT, was developed or released by OpenAI in 2020. Note that the software title is enclosed in quotation marks rather than italicized, which is one of the unique formatting rules in MLA style.

Should the URL be necessary, it can be included at the end of the citation, preceded by the word “Available” to indicate where the software can be accessed:

OpenAI. “ChatGPT.” 2020. Available at

These examples demonstrate how to credit ChatGPT in your work when using MLA style appropriately. Remember, citation aims to provide enough information to allow readers to find the original source, acknowledging the origins of the information and ideas you present.

How to Cite ChatGPT in Chicago Style

The Chicago Manual of Style provides guidelines for citation of various source types, including software. As AI models like ChatGPT become more prevalent, it’s necessary to understand how to cite them within the framework of the Chicago style properly.

In Chicago style, you will generally use a full note for the first citation of a source in your work and then a shortened note for subsequent citations of the same source. The full note includes most of the same elements as in APA or MLA style — the author, title, date, and URL.

Here’s an example of a full note citation for ChatGPT in Chicago style:

1. OpenAI, ChatGPT, 2020,

The number before the citation corresponds to the note number in the body of your text. Subsequent citations can be shortened to just the author’s name, the title, and the page number (if applicable):

2. OpenAI, ChatGPT.

Additional information would be required if ChatGPT were published in a more traditional format, like a book or journal article. However, the citation is fairly straightforward because its software is available online.

Remember that citation styles can vary based on the guidelines provided by your university, publication, or organization, so always double-check for any specific requirements.

How to Cite ChatGPT in Harvard Style

Harvard style is another commonly used citation method, especially in the United Kingdom and Australia. It’s an author-date style, similar to APA, and you’ll find that the method for citing ChatGPT in Harvard style isn’t too different.

In Harvard referencing, a typical citation for software would include the author (which in this case is the company, OpenAI), the year of publication, the title of the software (ChatGPT), the type of medium [Computer software], and where it was accessed.

Here’s an example of how you might cite ChatGPT in Harvard style:

OpenAI (2020) ChatGPT [Computer software] Available at: (Accessed: Date).

In the text, you would provide an in-text citation after any information or quotations derived from ChatGPT. The in-text citation would simply be the author and year, such as (OpenAI, 2020).

Harvard referencing styles may slightly differ depending on the specific rules of the university or publisher, so it’s always best to double-check these details before finalizing your citations.

In all instances, the key is to provide enough detail so that readers can locate the source of information. For AI models like ChatGPT, this means including the tool’s name, the developer, a link to the tool’s website, and the date you accessed the tool.

How to Cite ChatGPT in Vancouver Style

The Vancouver style, the author-number system, is commonly used in the medical and scientific fields. In this style, references are numbered in the text, and the reference list and numbers are assigned to each source in the order they are cited.

Here’s how you might cite ChatGPT in Vancouver style:

The reference is given as a number in square brackets for an in-text citation like this [1].

The full reference in the list at the end of the document would look something like this:

OpenAI. ChatGPT [Internet]. 2020 [cited Year Month Day]. Available from:

Note that ‘Internet’ in the citation denotes that the software is accessed online. ‘Cited Year Month Day’ should be when you last accessed the software. The URL points to the software’s homepage, not the content generated.

Vancouver style will list references at the end of the paper in the order they appear in the text. Therefore, the number assigned to the ChatGPT reference may vary. It’s crucial to remain consistent with the numbering throughout your document.

Final Thoughts on How to Cite ChatGPT

Navigating the world of AI tools like ChatGPT is a thrilling endeavor. As we venture deeper into the digital age, our interaction with AI will only increase. Understanding how to cite AI models and generated content in your academic and professional work is paramount in preserving intellectual honesty and integrity. While AI models like ChatGPT can provide valuable information, it’s always crucial to cross-check facts, especially for academic purposes. AI doesn’t replace human intellect, and it doesn’t replace the need for thorough research and analysis.

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FAQs on How to Cite ChatGPT

Do I need to cite ChatGPT?

Yes, citing ChatGPT or any AI tool you use in your research is critical. By citing these tools, you credit the developers and acknowledge the tool’s role in your research process. It’s about maintaining academic honesty and the integrity of your research.

Can ChatGPT cite sources?

ChatGPT can generate text based on the inputs it has been given and the information it was trained on. However, it doesn’t inherently cite sources or track where specific pieces of information came from in its training data. Therefore, it cannot automatically provide citations for the information it produces.

Can I cite ChatGPT?

Absolutely. As an AI language model, ChatGPT can be used to generate text that you might wish to include in your academic or professional writing. Any text you use directly from ChatGPT should be cited appropriately to give credit to the source and allow readers to trace back to the source if necessary.

Can I create citations using ChatGPT?

While ChatGPT is an advanced language model that can generate text, it doesn’t have specific functionality for creating citations. However, it may help provide guidelines or general formats based on common citation styles. You should always cross-check with official citation guidelines to ensure the accuracy of any citations.

Is ChatGPT a credible source?

ChatGPT, like any AI model, is a tool that generates information based on the data it was trained on, which includes a diverse range of sources, including books, websites, and other texts. While the information provided can be useful, it can’t independently verify or provide updated information beyond its last training cut-off. It’s always important to cross-check any important information and use multiple sources for research.

Where does ChatGPT get its information from?

ChatGPT has been trained on a diverse range of internet text. However, it does not know specifics about which documents were in its training set or have access to any proprietary databases, classified information, or confidential information. It generates responses based on patterns and information in the data it was trained on.

How do you cite a chat in AI?

Citing a conversation with an AI model would be similar to citing personal communication or correspondence in many citation styles, considering it’s a non-recoverable source. You would typically include the AI’s name and the conversation’s date and mention that it was personal communication.

Why is There a Need to Cite ChatGPT?

Citing ChatGPT or any other AI model is important for several reasons. It gives credit to the developers of the AI, allows your readers to trace back the source of the information or the tool used to generate it, and maintains the transparency and integrity of your academic or professional work, showing that you’ve used a tool to generate certain information and that the information doesn’t come from a human with expertise in the field.

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