I am currently writing my Bachelor's thesis and I have produced a list of terms that I plan on including in the attachments. The description of each term is directly copied from search engine results and different wikis. Is this legal? Is it OK to just write a notice saying the following?

The descriptions below have been directly copied from search engine results.

I am using IEEE as the writing format. Is there a standard way to include a list of terms using IEEE?

  • Welcome to Writing.SE Tøffelen! If you have a moment, you may want to visit our tour and help center. Have fun! Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


If you cite definitions you have to mark them as citations and give a source. Otherwise you are plagiarising.

Guidelines for formatting glossaries:

  • arrange entries alphabetically
  • if the entry is a phrase, give it in its natural order (software development) rather than reversed (development, software)
  • non-letter characters precede "a" in ordering
  • show alternative spellings in parentheses
  • if a term has more than one definition, number the definitions


question (Q). (1) What you ask if you don't know the answer. (2) A post type on Stack Exchange sites.
Contrast with: answer. See also: tour; off topic.

Explanation of example:

In the example, "Q" is an alternative spelling for "question". "(1)" and "(2)" signify different definitions. After a linebreak, "Contrast with:" gives the opposing concept and "see also:" points out related definitions.


I only have access to an old guide from the early 90s, so the formatting may have changed. If you can verify or falsify, please comment or edit.

  • I was afraid of having to mark the entries as citations. Will it not look odd having marked every single entry of the list? I have never seen a list of terms looking like that, but maybe that is because the authors change the wording of the definitions.
    – Slippers
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 20:17
  • @Tøffelen The only way to avoid citations is to rephrase all the definitions. What I do in such situations is find synonymous words, rearrange word order, and rewrite. – But if the definition you use is an official one (e.g. from a norm or standard), it might make sense to cite that and not rephrase it. – Maybe you want to talk to your supervisor about this?
    – user29032
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 20:28
  • Understood. I am meeting my supervisor in a few days, but thank you for clearing this up for me.
    – Slippers
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 20:36

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