Citation Styles Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Citation Styles Guide

Citation Styles Guide: You’re sitting at your desk, surrounded by stacks of books and journal articles. Your research paper is due soon and you need to cite all these sources in the proper citation style. But with so many different styles like APA, MLA, Chicago, and more, it can get confusing fast. Don’t stress – help is here! This guide will give you everything you need to know about the major citation styles so you can properly cite sources with ease.

We’ll cover the nitty-gritty details of APA, MLA, Chicago, and more styles – when to use them, how they format in-text and bibliographic citations, and examples so you can see them in action. With this ultimate citation styles guide by your side, you’ll breeze through your citations and references. So grab a cup of coffee and let’s get citing!

What Is a Citation Style Guide?

Citation Styles Guide

A citation style guide provides a set of standards for referencing sources in your writing. Different fields of study use different citation styles to cite sources in a consistent and recognizable format. The most common citation styles are APA Style, MLA Style, Chicago Style, and CSE Style.

APA Style

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is used in the social sciences. It emphasizes the date of publication and uses the author-date format for in-text citations. APA style uses a reference list at the end of the paper for full citations.

MLA Style

The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is typically used in the humanities. It emphasizes the author and page number in in-text citations and uses a works cited list at the end of the paper. MLA style is commonly used to cite sources in languages, literature, linguistics, and other related fields.

Chicago Style

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is published by the University of Chicago Press. Chicago Style, also known as Turabian style, is commonly used in history and the humanities. It uses footnotes or endnotes for in-text citations and a bibliography at the end of the paper. There are two types of Chicago Style: Notes and Bibliography or Author-Date.

CSE Style

The Council of Science Editors (CSE) style is used in the sciences, technology, engineering, and medical fields. It uses a name and year format for in-text citations and a references list. Like APA style, CSE style emphasizes the date of publication. CSE style is also known as Scientific Style.

Using a style guide helps ensure your citations are clear, consistent, and prevents plagiarism. The specific style used depends on your field of study and instructor preferences. Check with your instructor or university writing center for the recommended citation style for your papers.

Common Citation Styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, Etc.

There are several major citation styles used in academic writing. The most common are APA style, MLA style, and Chicago style. Choosing a citation style depends on your field of study and the requirements set by your instructor or publisher.

APA Style

The APA style is used in the social sciences. It follows the guidelines set out in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. In APA style, you cite sources in the text using the author’s last name and date of publication, e.g. (Smith, 2019). The full citation is included in an alphabetical reference list at the end of the paper. APA style uses title case for journal titles and sentence case for book titles.

MLA Style

MLA style is commonly used in the humanities. It follows the guidelines in the MLA Handbook published by the Modern Language Association. In MLA style, you cite sources in the text using the author’s last name and page number, e.g. (Smith, 219). The full citation is included in an alphabetical Works Cited list at the end of the paper. MLA style uses title case for all titles.

Chicago Style

The Chicago Manual of Style is used in some humanities and social sciences. It provides two citation styles: notes and bibliography style, and author-date style. The notes and bibliography style uses footnotes or endnotes to cite sources, with a bibliography at the end of the paper. The author-date style cites sources in the text using the author’s name, date of publication, and page numbers, with a reference list at the end of the paper.

There are many citation tools and generators available to help you cite sources in the appropriate style. However, you should always double check that the citations are formatted properly according to the style guidelines. Choosing and applying a citation style consistently and accurately is key to avoiding plagiarism in academic writing.

Key Differences Between Citation Styles

Each citation style has unique formatting to fit the needs of different disciplines. Knowing the key differences between the major styles will help you cite your sources accurately in any paper or project.

APA Style

Used in the social and behavioral sciences, APA style utilizes an author-date citation system. References are cited in the text with the author’s last name and publication year enclosed in parentheses. A reference list at the end of the paper provides full details on each source. APA style is set by the American Psychological Association and updated periodically. The current edition is the 7th edition, published in 2020.

MLA Style

Commonly used in the humanities and liberal arts, MLA style uses brief parenthetical citations in the text that correspond to full details in the works cited list. References include the author’s last name and page number, allowing readers to locate the specific part of the source being cited. The MLA Handbook by the Modern Language Association provides guidelines for this citation style. The current edition is the 8th edition, published in 2016.

Chicago Style

The Chicago Manual of Style offers both an author-date system and a notes and bibliography system. The notes and bibliography style is commonly used in history and the humanities. It uses numbered footnotes or endnotes that provide full details on sources, with a bibliography at the end of the paper. The author-date style is similar to APA and uses parenthetical citations in the text. Updated regularly, the current edition of the manual is the 17th edition, published in 2017.

CSE Style

Established by the Council of Science Editors, CSE style is used in the sciences and medicine. It uses a name-year citation system, with references numbered in the text and full details provided in a reference list. The CSE Manual is in its 8th edition, published in 2014. CSE style aims for brevity and clarity in scientific writing.

To summarize, the major differences between citation styles include the formatting of in-text citations, the formatting and order of elements in reference list entries, and the overall aim or focus of the style. Choosing a style ultimately depends on your discipline and the requirements of your professor or publisher.

Citation Generators and Management Tools

With so many different citation styles to keep track of, citation generators and management tools can be a lifesaver. These digital tools help you organize your research sources and automatically generate citations in the correct format.

Citation Generators

Free online citation generators like BibMe, Citation Machine, and Cite This For Me allow you to enter information about your source, such as the author, title, and publication date, and the generator will provide the properly formatted citation for you to copy and paste into your work. These tools cover all major citation styles including APA, MLA, Chicago, and Turabian.

Citation Managers

For longer, more in-depth research projects, consider using a citation manager like Zotero, Mendeley, or EndNote. These tools allow you to save and organize all your sources in one place. You can upload PDFs, save webpages, add notes and tags, and the citation manager will automatically generate a bibliography for your paper in the style of your choice.

Many citation managers also have plugins that allow you to cite sources directly from your word processor. For example, the Zotero plugin works with Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Just click the “Add citation” button, select the source you want to cite, and Zotero will automatically insert the in-text citation and add the bibliographic information to your bibliography.

Using citation tools is a huge time-saver and helps ensure all your citations are accurate and properly formatted. With just a few clicks, these digital assistants can generate citations, bibliographies, and in-text citations in the style you need. Focus on your writing and let the machines handle the formatting!

In-Text vs Reference List Citations

Citation Styles Guide

The two main parts of a citation style are in-text citations and the reference list. In-text citations refer readers to the full citation in the reference list. They usually contain the author’s last name and publication year. The reference list contains the full details of each source used.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations briefly identify the source of information within the actual text of your paper. They correspond to full citations listed in your reference list. The most common styles for in-text citations are APA style and MLA style.

In APA style, in-text citations include the author’s last name and the year of publication. For example, (Smith, 2020). If you cite the source again later in your paper, include only the year. For example, (2020). If there are two authors, include both last names. For example, (Smith & Jones, 2020).

In MLA style, in-text citations include the author’s last name and the page number. For example, (Smith, 2020, p. 15). If you cite the source again later, include the author’s last name and the new page number. For example, (Smith, p. 20).

Reference List

The reference list appears at the end of your paper and provides the full details for each source you cited in the text. The most common styles for reference lists are APA style and MLA style.

In APA style, sources are listed alphabetically by the author’s last name. Each entry follows the author-date format. For example:

Smith, J. (2020). Title of the book. Publisher.

In MLA style, sources are also listed alphabetically by the author’s last name. Each entry includes additional details like the publisher and page numbers. For example:

Smith, John. Title of the Book. Publisher, 2020.

Using a consistent citation style provides a standard way to give proper credit to sources you use in your work. Be sure to check with your instructor for the preferred style before writing your paper.

Citing Different Source Types

Depending on what you’re citing, there are specific

styles for different source types. The key is to provide enough information so

your readers can locate the original source.

Books

For books, provide the author’s name, book title, publication information, and page numbers. For example:

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scholastic, 1998, pp. 45-46.

If there are multiple authors, list them in the order they appear on the source. For editors, use (Ed.) or (Eds.) after their names.

Articles

Cite articles by providing the author name(s), article title, publication title, volume and issue number, date, and page numbers. For example:

Smith, John. “Magic and Wizardry.” Journal of Speculative Fiction, vol. 42, no. 3, 2018, pp. 22-29.

For newspapers and magazines, also include the publication date and section number or name.

Websites

Cite websites by providing the author name(s) (if known), article or page title (if applicable), website name, publication date (if available), and URL. For example:

“A Brief History of Magic.” Magical Creatures Wiki, https://magicalcreatures.wiki/magic_history, accessed 10 Feb. 2021.

Since website content can frequently change, also include the date you accessed the information.

Interviews

For interviews, provide the name of the person interviewed, the date of the interview, and the interview format (such as personal interview or telephone interview). For example:

Dumbledore, Albus. Personal interview. 3 Mar. 2021.

Citing sources properly is key to avoiding plagiarism and allowing your readers to locate the original source material. Following a standard style guide helps ensure your citations are clear and consistent. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Citation Styles by Discipline (MLA for Humanities, APA for Social Sciences, Etc.)

As an academic or researcher, you’ll need to cite sources in your work to give proper credit to other researchers and avoid plagiarism. The citation style you use depends on your field of study. The three most common styles are:

MLA Style

The Modern Language Association style is typically used in the humanities, especially for literature and languages. It utilizes parenthetical citations within the text that correspond to an entry in the works cited list at the end of the document. For example, (Smith 123).

APA Style

Developed by the American Psychological Association, APA style is most commonly used in the social sciences. It also uses parenthetical citations within the text but has a references list at the end of the document. The APA style emphasizes the date of publication, e.g. (Smith, 2019).

Chicago/Turabian Style

The Chicago Manual of Style is used in some humanities and social sciences. It highlights the use of footnotes or endnotes in the text that provide bibliographic information, e.g. [1]. A bibliography at the end of the document provides full details on each source. The Turabian style is a version of Chicago style focused on student research papers.

There are also discipline-specific styles, e.g.

•ACS for chemistry

•AMA for medicine

•ASA for sociology

•IEEE for engineering

•CSE for biology

•Bluebook for law

The key is to choose a style appropriate for your field of study and use it consistently throughout your paper. Citation tools and generators can help format each source in the correct style. Following a style guide ensures you properly cite all sources used in your work.

Check with your instructor or publisher for the preferred citation style for your specific paper or publication. The most important thing is giving proper credit to the sources and information that informed and enhanced your work. Consistently following a style guide helps establish your credibility as an author and researcher.

Style Guide Updates (APA 7th Edition, MLA 8th Edition, Etc.)

Citation Styles Guide

With new editions of the major style guides releasing in recent years, it’s important to make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest rules. The style guides themselves, as well as many university writing centers and libraries, have useful resources on their websites to help you understand what’s changed.

The American Psychological Association released the 7th edition of their style guide in October 2019. Some of the major changes include:

  • The option to use singular “they” pronouns.
  • Dropping the requirement to include the publication city for books in citations.
  • Revisions to the rules around inclusive and bias-free language.
  • New guidelines for citing online sources, including social media posts.

The Modern Language Association updated to the 8th edition of their popular MLA style in April 2016. Key changes involve:

  • The use of core elements for each source in the Works Cited list, with flexibility in the order of certain elements.
  • The inclusion of container elements for sources within larger works (e.g. essays in books, episodes in TV shows).
  • The option to include URLs in entries for online works.
  • Guidance on citing new source types like websites, e-books, and digital archives.

Other style guides like the Chicago Manual of Style and the American Medical Association’s AMA style also released recent updates, in 2017 and 2020 respectively. It’s a good idea to review resources from the specific organization to learn about changes relevant to your needs.

Keeping up with the evolution of citation styles and language conventions allows you to properly credit sources in your work and maintain high academic standards. While the core principles remain the same across styles, paying attention to the details of the latest editions will ensure your citations are correct.

Citation Styles Guide FAQs

Wondering which citation style to use for your paper or how to format citations correctly? We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about citation styles.

What are the major citation styles? The three most commonly used styles are APA, MLA, and Chicago. APA style is used in the social sciences, MLA is used in the humanities, and Chicago style is used in history and some humanities. There are also many discipline-specific styles like IEEE for engineering or AMA for medicine.

How do I choose a citation style? The citation style you use depends on the requirements of your instructor, academic department, or publisher. If you have flexibility in choosing a style, consider which style is most commonly used in your field of study. The most important thing is to be consistent in using the same citation style throughout your paper.

What information do I need to cite a source? The information needed to cite a source depends on the source type and the citation style. In general, you will need author name(s), source title, publication information (publisher, journal title, volume, issue, pages, etc.), and publication date. For online sources, include the URL or DOI. Check the guidelines of your selected citation style for details on citing different source types.

How do I cite a source with multiple authors? In APA style, cite up to five authors the first time, then use “et al.” for subsequent citations. In MLA style, cite up to three authors, then use “et al.” Chicago style cites up to three authors, then lists only the first author followed by “et al.” Some citation styles require listing all authors for every citation. Check the guidelines for your selected style.

What if I can’t find all the information needed to cite a source? If information is missing, cite the source as completely as possible with the information you have. Use abbreviations like “n.d.” for “no date” or “n.p.” for “no place of publication.” For online sources missing publication information, use the access date. The most important information to have is the author name(s) (if any) and source title. Do your best – you cannot cite sources you cannot identify!

How do I format citations in the text and in a reference list? Formatting citations depends entirely on which citation style you are using. Check the official style guidelines, whether in an official handbook or on the style’s website, for details on how to properly format citations in text and in your reference list or bibliography. If using citation management software like Zotero or EndNote, select your citation style to have citations and references automatically formatted for you.

Conclusion

So there you have it, folks! As you can see, there are a ton of different citation styles out there, each with their own specific guidelines and formats. The key is to find out which one is preferred or required for your particular field or purpose and then take the time to learn how to cite properly using that style. It may seem tedious at first, but getting the hang of citing sources is crucial for any successful research or writing project. And don’t forget, when in doubt, check with your instructor or editor about which citation style they expect you to use.

Once you learn the basics, citing your sources correctly will become second nature. The different style guides can seem overwhelming, but don’t sweat it – you’ve got this! Proper citation shows that you respect other people’s work and ideas and gives your own writing more credibility. So embrace those pesky citations and footnotes – they’re worth the effort to boost your scholarly chops!

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