Skip to main content

Citation Styles: Introduction

This guide provides examples to help you document your sources of information.
Emily Deinert's picture
Emily Deinert

What is a citation style?

A citation or documentation style "is a standard approach to the citation of sources that the author of a paper has consulted, abstracted, or quoted from. It prescribes methods for citing references within the text, providing a list of works cited at the end of the paper, and even formatting headings and margins.

Different academic disciplines use different documentation styles; your instructor may require you to use a particular style, or may allow you use one of your choosing." -- The Writing Center, The University of Wisconsin @ Madison

What are the different styles and which one should you use?

There are a variety of citation styles, but this Guide provides direction and documentation for MLA Style (Modern Language Association), APA Style (American Psychological Association) and Chicago Style. Librarians are available to assist with other citation styles.

You should use whichever citation style your instructor requires, but here are a few examples of disciplines that often use one of the three citation styles in this guide:

MLA: Literature, Rhetoric

APA: Psychology, Social Work, Sociology, Education, Political Science, Biology

Chicago:  History, Anthology, Business