Citing Sources Extended Essay Guidelines

IB extended essay writing help: citing sources

For a lot of people out there, any kind of academic writing assignment can be distressing. If you add this to the fact that your IB extended essay will be extremely important for your future, then you may feel stressed out and you may also feel confused as to what it is that is actually expected of you to do.

The best thing to do is to clear your mind and try to focus on the guidelines that are specific to your subject of choice. Read them carefully because they will be clear and concise and they will give you a very good idea of what a good IB extended essay should look like.

If you are particularly worried about citations and the style you should use, do read on and try to follow the next tips. They will help you understand more what it is that you should actually do.

  1. Always start by reading the subject-specific guidelines, since they will actually help a lot. Pay attention to all the details, since they can all be very important for the final grade.
  2. Acknowledge the importance citations have. For many of you, citing sources can be just another source of headaches, but the truth is that they actually have a purpose. First and foremost, every citation style out there will create a common ground between researchers in the same field, making it easier for everyone to read and understand your paper. Furthermore, it is important to use citations because they will show that you do not have the intention of stealing anyone's ideas. Plagiarism is a serious thing in the academic world and it is often associated with stealing - and you definitely do not want to be accused of having done that!
  3. The IB extended essay will allow you to choose one academic writing style (and thus, once citation style). Choose the one with which you are most familiar with, since this way it will be much less likely that you make mistakes about it.
  4. Be consistent in your use of that academic writing style and do not change it throughout the course of your extended essay.
  5. When you do your research, make sure you organize your sources properly, since this will definitely help you find the sources to cite much easier and it will prevent you from having to re-do half of the work just because you forgot where you found one piece of information you want to use in your essay.


A reference is a way of indicating to the reader, in an orderly form, where information has been obtained. References must be cited because they acknowledge the sources used, and enable the reader to consult the work and verify the data that has been presented.

A reference should provide the information needed to find the original source material.

Students need to understand why and how to cite their sources and make this a habit from the start. This will save time and energy when its time to upload the work.

IB students must always acknowledge all the sources used in any work submitted for assessment. Give the source details of all the images, text extracts and quotes you refer to in your work, including work or ideas of another artist, person or source that you have paraphrased or summarized. 

Sources include (but are not limited to) images, books and websites. Here are some other sources that should be referenced:

  • participation in practical workshops
  • exhibitions and exhibition catalogues
  • filmed interviews with visual arts professionals
  • lectures and lecture notes
  • audio recordings and soundtracks
  • newspaper articles and magazines
  • online groups and forums
  • feedback and advice from others
  • films, television and other media

When citing images the recommended format is:  Artist / Title / Date / Media / Source

When citing texts, present in the following order: Author / Title / Publisher / Date / Page or Website

When citing work you have seen in an exhibition, state this as a primary source. 

When citing work found on the internet, you must include the artist and the details of the work, not simply the URL where you found it. Include the date you accessed the page, along with the URL in your sources page, not necessarily in text, to keep it clean.


Artist  Leonardo da Vinci

Title   Mona Lisa ( La Gioconda)

Date  1503-17

Medium Oil on poplar panel

Size 77 x 53 cm

Source Musee du Louvre, Paris

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mona_Lisa


Every image used must be appropriately referenced to acknowledge the title, artist, medium, date (where this information is known) and the source from which the image was retrieved, following the protocol of the referencing style chosen by the school.

Students own original work is identified and acknowledged in the same way, use a phrase such as “my own work” rather than their name. Include citation details alongside images of their own work, includes media/medium. Declare when an image in the final version of the work is also used in part 3: exhibition assessment task.

 Use in text citation in Process Portfolio screens whenever someone else’s work is quoted or summarized. References can come from many different sources, including books, magazines, journals, newspapers, emails, internet sites and interviews.

When deliberately appropriating another artist’s work make explicit reference to the appropriation. Another person’s work, ideas or images have influenced then the source must be cited at point of use and must also be included in a list of sources.

Any found object or image (including those taken from the Internet  must be appropriately referenced.

A list of sources is required for the process portfolio, and citations are required in text, at point-of-use. this screen will not be included in the screen-count when assessing the process portfolio component.

In text citations for images should include an image label with title, artist, date and medium, and a number that corresponds to the sources page where the full citation ( including source) is included.

  • Cite sources, text and images, at the point of use in CS, and include full reference on Sources page document
  • Teachers should offer guidance about effective referencing
  • HL students cite own work in the same way: "own work", title, medium, size

 All students are required to submit a list of sources for the Comparative Study as a separate document.

As soon as you know you would like to refer to an image or text, collect the reference information in a Word document. Doing this will save you a lot of time later when you compile your bibliography.

When directly referring to another artists work or ideas that have significantly influenced your work, you can cite this briefly in the Exhibition Texts


Referencing is critical is in the Extended Essay. All EEs should include in text citation, fully referenced images and a final bibliography.

A citation is a shorthand method of making a reference in the body of an essay, which is then linked to the full reference at the end of the essay. A citation provides the reader with accurate references so that he or she can locate the source easily. How sources are cited varies with the particular documentation style that has been chosen. Page numbers should normally be given when referencing printed material: in some styles this will be in the citation, in others in the full reference. Once again, it is important to emphasize that there must be consistency of method when citing sources.

A bibliography is an alphabetical list of every source used to research and write the essay. Sources that are not cited in the body of the essay, but were important in informing the approach taken, should be cited in the introduction or in an acknowledgment.

Find out more about writing a Bibliography, academic referencing styles in Bibliographies, Citation, Referencing

You may choose the referencing style you prefer or the one used by the school, but it is important to be consistent throughout, see Bibliographies for acceptable documentation styles

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