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Citation Basics: AI & Citations

How to cite sources with styles of documentation used at CCBC.

Citing AI-Generated Content

Before you start

Students, please first confirm with your professor that using ChatGPT or other content produced by generative artificial intelligence (AI) is acceptable before citing it. Your professor may also have a specific way they would like you to reference ChatGPT.

Why should I reference ChatGPT content?

References tell your reader where your information came from and how you used it in your work. If you use content created by a tool like ChatGPT, including it in your works cited - as you would with any other source - is the responsible thing to do. If you use ChatGPT to help write or structure your paper, even if you do not otherwise quote or paraphrase its content, you will likely wish to acknowledge your use of it in some manner. This provides transparency to your reader.

If you try to use ChatGPT to find sources for you, it might generate false citations. The text generated is based on the most likely information based on the prompt. This could lead to "ghost citations". For examples of "ghost citations" check this guide created by the University of Maryland.

Are there official guidelines for citing ChatGPT?

Generative AI is a relatively new phenomenon. As such, citation styles may lack specific guidelines for referencing AI-generated content. It is likely that guidelines will be updated, so checking for the most recent recommendations is advisable.

Citing AI-Produced Content Responsibly

We are still learning how to ethically use and cite generative AI resources. As such, err on the side of transparency if you use one. Here are some ideas for citing generative AI responsibly:

  • Save a transcript of your chat. Make it available to or retrievable by your reader, possibly by including it as an appendix to your work or as an online supplement.
  • Describe the prompt that generated the specific ChatGPT or Bard response.
  • Include the date when the response was generated or date of access. This is important as these tools will update regularly.
  • Acknowledge how you used the tool. You can do this even if you only use generative AI to plan your paper or generate ideas and don't include any of its generated content.

MLA Citations for AI

In March 2023, MLA provided guidance for citing responses from ChatGPT or output from another generative AI tool.


"Description of chat" prompt. Name of AI tool, version of AI tool, Company, Date of chat, URL.


"Examples of harm reduction initiatives" prompt. ChatGPT, 23 Mar. version, OpenAI, 4 Mar. 2023,

In-Text Citation Example:

("Examples of harm reduction")

If you create a shareable link to the chat transcript, include that instead of the tool's URL.

MLA also recommends acknowledging when you used the tool in a note or your text as well as verifying any sources or citations the tool supplies.

APA Citations for AI

In April 2023, APA provided guidance for citing responses from ChatGPT or output from another generative AI tool.

Include a description of the prompt when quoting output from a generative AI tool in your paper. Use the author of the AI algorithm - or the company who produced the tool - in both the in-text citation and full reference. It may be worthwhile to include the chat's transcript as an appendix to your project.


Author. (Date). Name of tool (Version of tool) [Large language model]. URL


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

In-Text Citation Example:

(OpenAI, 2023)

Creative Commons License

 AI, ChatGPT, and the Library Libguide by Amy Scheelke for Salt Lake Community College, is licensed CC BY-NC 4.0, except where otherwise noted.