See below for summaries on the popular citation styles' guidance on citing AI tools and AI-generated content (text, images, data, etc.).
Note that MLA, APA, and Chicago really vary on this topic!
The increased usage of AI tools has raised a lot of questions about copyright and ownership of content generated by these tools. Who is considered the author, and thus able to benefit or profit, from AI-generated work: the AI user, the AI programmer, the AI program, the AI software company? Does AI learning infringe on the copyright of human artists, writers, and creators, or can this activity protected under Fair Use? As of 2023, there are several lawsuits in the United States attempting to answer these questions, and the U.S. Copyright Office launched an initiative to examine issues that AI presents in copyright laws and policies; the outcomes of these activities may or may not sway the U.S. Congress to pursue amendments to the Copyright Law.
MLA's template of core elements provides flexibility in citing new types of sources, including generative AI. MLA does not recommend citing an AI tool as an author; instead, the name of the AI tool can be used as the Title of the Container within a citation. MLA also indicates that writers should cite AI-generated content whenever paraphrased or quoted, note how the tool was used (e.g. translation), and vet sources cited by AI.
For more information about citing AI tools, including in-text citations, visual works, etc., visit:
APA suggests adapting the reference template for software to cite AI tools. See Section 10.10 of the APA Manual (7th ed). Use the name of the company who made the tool as the Author and the name of the AI tool as the Title. For example, OpenAI is the company who created the model ChatGPT; so OpenAI would be listed as the Author in the citation and ChatGPT as the Title.
Students should describe how they used the tool in the body of their paper, for example, in the Introduction or Method section. The full text of the generative-AI output could be included in an appendix or supplementary materials.
For a more in-depth explanation and example, visit:
For Chicago style, acknowledge the use of an AI tool within the text of a research paper or add a formal citation in a numbered footnote or endnote. List the AI tool as the Author, and list the company that created the tool as the Publisher/Sponsor. For example, ChatGPT would be listed as an Author and OpenAI listed as the Publisher. Do not include AI tools in the bibliography or reference list, since AI-generated content cannot be reproduced or accessed by other users.
For a more in-depth explanation, visit: