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ACS citation style

Introduction

This guide provides a basic introduction to the ACS citation style. It is based on the 3rd edition of the ACS Style Guide published by the American Chemical Society in 2006. The ACS Style Guide is generally used for academic writing in chemistry. Below are basic explanations and examples for the most common types of citations used by students. For additional information and examples, refer to Chapter 14 of the ACS Style Guide.

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Citing references in text

ACS suggests citing references in text in three ways:

  • By superscript numbers:
    • Oscillation in the reaction of benzaldehyde with oxygen was reported previously.3
    • The syntheses described by Fraser3 take advantage of carbohydrate topology.
  • By italic numbers in parentheses:
    • Oscillation in the reaction of benzaldehyde with oxygen was reported previously (6).
    • Jensen (6) repported oscillation in the reaction of benzaldehyde with oxygen.
  • By author name and year of publication in parentheses (author-date system):
    • Oscillation in the reaction of benzaldehyde with oxygen was reported previously (Finnegan et al., 2004).
    • The primary structure of this enzyme has also been determined (O'Brien and Alenno, 2005; Axelrod, 2003).

When it comes to in text citations for items with:

  • Two authors: provide the surname of both authors, separated by the word "and" (O'Brien and Alenno, 2005).
  • More than two authors: provide the surname of the first author listed, and then "et al." (Finnegan et al., 2004).

Note: This is different from the list of works cited, where all author names should be provided and separated by semicolons, using the format shown in the examples below.


Books

See pages 300-306 of the ACS Style Guide for more book examples.

Book (without editor)
  • Lehman, J. W. Operational organic chemistry : a problem-solving approach to the laboratory course, 4th ed.; Pearson Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, N.J., 2009; p 57.
Book Chapter (from an edited book)
  • Nishiyama, H.; Shiomi, T. Reductive Aldol, Michael, and Mannich Reactions. In Metal Catalyzed Reductive C-C Bond Formation : A Departure from Preformed Organometallic Reagents; Krische, M. J., Ed.; Springer: Berlin, 2007; pp 105-138.
E-book
  • Dyall, K. G.; Faegri, K. Introduction to relativistic quantum chemistry [Online]; Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK, 2007; p 15. http://0-lib.myilibrary.com.mercury.concordia.ca/browse/open.asp?id=115882&loc= (accessed Jun 14, 2010).


Encyclopedias

See pages 305-306 & 320 of the ACS Style Guide for more encyclopedia examples.

Print
  • Diagnostic Reagents. Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 5th ed.; VCH: Weinheim, Germany, 1985; Vol. A8, pp 455-491.
Online
  • Alkanolamines from Nitro Alcohols. Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology [Online]; Wiley & Sons, Posted March 14, 2003. http://www.mrw.interscience.wiley.com/kirk/articles/alkaboll.a01/frame.html (accessed Nov 7, 2004).


Handbooks

See pages 305-306 & 320 of the ACS Style Guide for more encyclopedia examples.

  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 89th ed.; Lide, D.R., Ed.; CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 2008; Section 3, No. 339.
  • The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals, 12th ed.; Budavari, S.; O'Neal, M.J.; Smith, A.; Heckelman, P. E.; Kinneary, J. F., Eds.; Merck & Co.: Whitehouse Station, NJ, 1996; entry 4857.


Journal Articles

See pages 291-299 of the ACS Style Guide for more journal article examples.

  • Mawhinney, R. C.; Muchall, H. M.; Peslherbe, G.H. A Computational Study of the 1,3-Dipolar Cycloaddition Reaction Mechanism for Nitrilimines. Can. J. Chem. 2005, 35, 1615-1625.

Lab Manuals, Course Notes & Other Oral Presentations

Treat a lab manual or course notes like a book authored by the instructor and published by the University.

Lab Manual
  • Bird, P. Chemistry 206 Laboratory Manual; Concordia University: Montreal, QC, 2010; p 21.
Course Notes & Other Oral Presentations
  • Robidoux, S. CHEM 324 Lecture on Stereochemistry. Presentated at Concordia University, Montreal, QC, September 16, 2009.


Magazines & Newspapers

See page 299 of the ACS Style Guide for more examples.

Print
  • Schwarcz, J. Green chemistry is becoming a red-hot field. The Gazette, Apr 11, 2010, p A15.
Online
  • Johnson, J.; Torrice, M. BP's Ever-Growing Oil Spill. Chemical & Engineering News [Online], Jun 14, 2010, pp 15-24 http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/88/8824cover.html (accessed Jun 14, 2010).


Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

See page 315 of the ACS Style Guide for more examples.

  • Acetic Anhydride; MSDS No. A0338 [Online]; Mallenckrodt Baker: Phillipsburg, NJ, Feb 18, 2003. http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/a0338.htm (accessed Nov 10, 2004).


Patents

See pages 310-11 of the ACS Style Guide for more examples.

  • Sheem, S. K. Low-Cost Fiber Optic Pressure Sensor. U.S. Patent 6,738,537, May 18, 2004.
  • Lenssen, K. C.; Jantscheff, P.; Kiedrowski, G.; Massing U. Cationic Lipids with Serine Backbone for Transfecting Biological Molecules. Eur. Pat. Appl. 1457483, 2004.


SciFinder & Other Databases

See pages 314 & 324 of the ACS Style Guide for more examples.

References to data retrieved from a database should be cited like a web site and include the CAS Registry Number (RN) or chemical name and the date the database was accessed. If the data are calculated data, also cite the software used for the calculation.

SciFinder
  • SciFinder; Chemical Abstracts Service: Columbus, OH; carbon-13 NMR spectrum; spectrum ID CC-03-C_SPC-3734; RN 50-52-2; https://scifinder.cas.org (accessed June 9, 2010).
  • SciFinder; Chemical Abstracts Service: Columbus, OH; Density; RN 50-52-2; https://scifinder.cas.org (accessed June 9, 2010); calculated using ACD/Labs software, version 8.14; ACD/Labs 1994-2007.
Other databases
  • Spectral Database for Organic Compounds (SDBS); mass spectrum; SDBS No.: 4778; RN 87-86-5; http://riodb01.ibase.aist.go.jp/sdbs/ (accessed June 14, 2010).


Spectra & Other Data

References to data retrieved from a database should be cited like a web site and include the CAS Registry Number (RN) or chemical name and the date the database was accessed. If the data is calculated data, also cite the software used for the calculation.

SciFinder

If the spectrum or data was found in SciFinder, cite it in the following way:

  • SciFinder; Chemical Abstracts Service: Columbus, OH; carbon-13 NMR spectrum; spectrum ID CC-03-C_SPC-3734; RN 50-52-2; https://scifinder.cas.org (accessed June 9, 2010).
  • SciFinder; Chemical Abstracts Service: Columbus, OH; Density; RN 50-52-2; https://scifinder.cas.org (accessed June 9, 2010); calculated using ACD/Labs software, version 8.14; ACD/Labs 1994-2007.
Online

If the spectrum or data was found in an online database or web site, cite it in the following way:

  • Spectral Database for Organic Compounds (SDBS); mass spectrum; SDBS No.: 4778; RN 87-86-5; http://riodb01.ibase.aist.go.jp/sdbs/ (accessed June 14, 2010).
Journal Articles

If the spectrum was found in a journal, cite the article:

  • Kartashov, V. S.; Shorshnev, S. V.; Arzamastsev, A. P. Use of carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy to identify 10-alkyl derivatives of phenothiazine. Khimiko-Farmatsevticheskii Zhurnal 1991, 25, 85-8.
Print (data set compilation)

If the spectrum or data was found in a book or handbook, cite it in the following way:

  • The Sadtler Standard Spectra: 300 MHz Proton NMR Standards; Bio-Rad, Sadlter Div.: Philadelphia, PA, 1994; no. 7640 (1-Chloropentane).
  • The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals, 12th ed.; Budavari, S.; O'Neal, M.J.; Smith, A.; Heckelman, P. E.; Kinneary, J. F., Eds.; Merck & Co.: Whitehouse Station, NJ, 1996; entry 4857.


Theses & Dissertations

See pages 309-310 of the ACS Style Guide for more examples.

Print
  • Chandrakanth, J. S. Effects of Ozone on the Colloidal Stability of Particles Coated with Natural Organic Matter. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, 1994.
Online
  • Devanathan, G. The design of substrates for Cathepsin X. Masters Thesis [Online], Concordia University, Montreal, QC, 2003. http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/2239/ (accessed June 14, 2010).


Web Sites

See pages 320-322 of the ACS Style Guide for more examples.

  • Alkaloid, 2009. HowStuffWorks.com. http://science.howstuffworks.com/alkaloid-info.htm (accessed June 14, 2010).
  • Zeng, Y. Pentachlorophenol Family Pathway Map, 2008. University of Minnesota Biocatalysis/Biodegradation Database. http://umbbd.msi.umn.edu/pcp/pcp_map.html (accessed May 3, 2009).


page last updated on: Thursday 19 June 2014

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