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Citing Sources: ACS Style

A guide to citing sources designed and created by Clark Librarians

ACS Style (Chemistry)


With ACS, you need to abbreviate the names of scientific journals.

For example, the Journal of the American Chemical Society would be J. Am. Chem. Soc. 

To turn a scientific journal title into an abbreviation, visit CASSI.

ACS Style Guide

ACS has provided the section ACS Style Quick Guide (from the ACS Guide to Scholarly Communication) on their website for free:

ACS Style Quick Guide

Frequent Errors

Check your ACS citations for these details:

  • Include all author names in a reference citation. With multiple authors, separate the names from one another by semicolons. Always end the author field with a period. List the names in inverted form: surname first,then first initial, middle initial, and qualifiers (Jr., II).
  • Put spaces between the elements and after punctuation, just as you would in a regular sentence.
  • Remove hyperlinks. The URL should not be blue or underlined (in Word: right-click on the hyperlink --> remove hyperlink).
  • For journals, the year should be in bold.
  • For journals, volume numbers are in italics.
  • For journals, if there is an issue number, include it in parentheses.
  • For scientific journals, use the CASSI abbreviation for the journal name. If the journal is not in CASSI, use the full journal name and do NOT follow with punctuation.
  • End the citation with a period.


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Q & A About ACS

Question: There's no date on an article from the U.S. Department of Energy website. How do I cite it?

Answer: In place of the date, use (n.d.)

Question: Do I use a permalink or the URL from the address bar?

Answer: For the Chemistry 142 annotated bibliography, when using an article from one of the library's databases, use the permalink for the article rather than the URL from the browser's address bar.

In EBSCOhost databases, look for the permalink on the right bar:


Question: The URL or permalink is very long, and it causes a big gap of white space at the end of the line. Should I break it up?

Answer: No. For the Chemistry 142 annotated bibliography assignment, don't worry about the white space; let the URL or permalink wrap naturally.

Question: Do I include the article title?

Answer: Yes. Although the ACS Style Guide says journal titles are optional information, it also says they can be "desirable to highlight the contents." For CHEM 142, including the article title will make it easier to share annotated bibliographies with classmates.

Question: Do I use title case or sentence case for the article title?

Answer: For CHEM 142, use title case, where all the main words of a title are capitalized. (The ACS Style Guide has a slight variation for ACS publications -- you can ignore that.)

Question: Should I use a URL or a DOI?

Answer: If there is no permalink, use the DOI if one is available. If there is no DOI, use the URL from the browser.

Question: What format do I use for the letters DOI? Is it DOI: or doi:? 

Answer: According to the ACS style guide page 319, use upper case, followed by a colon and a space, like this: 
DOI: 10.1021/ja047915o 

Question: How do I abbreviate a hyphenated first name, like Jane-Francis Smith?

Answer: Keep the hyphen. Jane-Francis Smith becomes: Smith, J.-F.

Question: What if a journal title is abbreviated, but it's not a CASSI abbreviation?

Answer: If it's not a CASSI abbreviation, track down the full journal name and use that.

Question: How do I treat names with participles, like Michael van der Putten?

Answer: We cannot find a rule in ACS, so we are following this format: Michael van der Putten would be: van der Putten, Michael, alphabetized under "V".

Question: If the journal title is not abbreviated, should I put a period or a comma at the end of the journal title? 

Answer: No. For both scientific and non-scientific journals, do not put either a period or a comma at the end of a non-abbreviated journal title. 

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