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Citation Styles: Introduction

This guide provides examples to help you document your sources of information.

What are citation styles?

A citation style is a standard format for the citation of sources that you may have consulted, abstracted, or quoted from for a paper or assignment. Citation styles provide formatting standards 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 citation styles.

The point of a citation is to give credit where credit is due! All citations have basic elements in common: author name(s), dates, and titles. The differences between styles is just that -- style, or how the common elements are formatted.

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

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Emily Deinert
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