Citation Styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian
Citation styles are an important part of the academic world. Without them, students could not format and style their papers correctly and consistently. There are a number of different citation styles that guide the students in formatting their papers and references.
While some citation styles may be more common and widespread than others, all of them are used by some specific and specialized audiences.
In this guide, we will help you understand why learning about these citation styles is important as a student and how they help students in styling their papers accordingly and in the right format and design.
Since many of them have the same format and style, students often get confused about how to differentiate between them.
Below, you will read all about it in detail and learn everything easily and effectively.
- What Is a Citation Style?
- How to Find the Right Citation Style for your Paper?
- What are the Differences Between Different Citation Styles?
- American Psychological Association (APA)
- Modern Language Association (MLA)
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- American Sociological Association (ASA)
- Harvard Citation
- Oxford Citation
- AMA Style (American Medical Association)
- ACS Style (American Chemical Society)
- NLM Style (National Library of Medicine)
- AAA Style (American Anthropological Association)
- APSA Style (American Political Science Association)
What Is a Citation Style?
A citation style is a set of rules and guidelines that defines how a student should cite and refer to the sources used in his papers. Using existing research and citing other researchers’ work is a common practice among students and people working in the field of research. When using the quotes, ideas, and phrases from other works, adding a citation and reference is necessary.
In its absence, the work could be counted as plagiarized, which is a serious academic offense. Plagiarism could land you in dire trouble as your teacher or research supervisor could reject your work. Therefore, citing everything is important and besides plagiarism, it also helps in proving your research claims and substantiating your research claims and findings.
How Many Citation Styles are There?
Depending on the kinds of subjects and fields of studies, it would be difficult to assert the different types of citation styles. There are a number of different references but only 3 are the most common citation styles; APA, MLA, and Chicago. However, there are a number of other citation styles by discipline and research paper citation styles that are used by students studying in specific and different fields.(back to top)
How to Find the Right Citation Style for your Paper?
Don’t know which citation style will be the best for your paper? Many students face the same dilemma when trying to choose the right paper and citation style. In many cases, your teacher will tell you about the citation format that you will need to follow in your paper but in some cases, your teacher may expect that you know which style to use and implement in your work.
Don’t worry, finding the right citation format and style is not that difficult either. Below, we have mentioned some forms of academic citation styles and the disciplines in which they are commonly used.
- American Psychological Association (APA): Commonly used in social sciences, engineering, psychology, social work, education, etc.
- Modern Language Association (MLA): This citation style is used in the subjects of humanities including literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion, etc.
- The Chicago Manual of Style: The style is also known as Turabian style and it is more common in the studies and subject of History.
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): The format style is used by the students and researchers of the engineering and electrical field.
- American Sociological Association (ASA): The style is commonly used by the students and professionals of Sociology.
- Harvard Citation: Though it is not an official formatting style, Harvard is commonly used by the students of economics and use it to format their works.
- Oxford Citation: Mainly, the citation style is used by the students of law but other students can also use it. It follows the documentary-note style references.
- American Medical Association (AMA): The referencing style is used by the students and researchers of medicine. It is used for medical publications.
- American Chemical Society (ACS): Usually used by the students and researchers of chemistry and chemical society. The citation style is specially designed for chemistry students.
- National Library of Medicine (NLM): The style is quite flexible in the way that it offers three ways of presenting in-text citations. The style is common in the medical field.
- American Anthropological Association (AAA): The style follows the Chicago style manual. The style is used by the students and researchers of the anthropology subject.
- American Political Science Association (APSA): The style is commonly used by the field of political sciences. It follows the Chicago Manual of Style.
All of these referencing styles are developed by different associations and used by several different subjects and learners. Many of them have minimal changes and this makes it difficult to remember and spot the differences. However, some formatting and citation styles are distinctly different from others and are developed for specialized subjects only.
When choosing a citation style for your paper, you must also consider the purpose of writing or producing the work. For example, if you are writing a submission for a journal then the kind of citation style depends on the journal’s guidelines and requirements. Similarly, if you are a student and working on your paper then APA, MLA, and Chicago will be the most common citation styles.
What are the Differences Between Different Citation Styles?
All the referencing and citation styles could be different in some or many ways. What makes these styles differ from one another? These styles have different rules and guidelines about how to format the paper, references, in-citations, appendices, and list entries. As we have mentioned before, the changes are subtle and when implementing a citation style, you need to be careful about it.
Besides different kinds of citation styles, there are different in-text citation styles also. Below, we have explained them in an easy to understand way:
- Parenthetical In-Text Citation: In this kind of in-text citation, the in-text citation is added to the content and is placed in the brackets. The in-text citations include the last name of the author, the year of publication, along with the page number, if the in-text is used from a book or journal.
- Note In-Text Citation: In note in-text citation, the in-text source is added and placed in the footnote or endnote, especially in the endnote citation styles. To study the source, the reader refers to the type of source in those endnotes and footnotes.
- Numeric In-Text Citation: To apply this kind of in-text, all the sources are numbered in the reference list and these numbers are used when citing within the content.
The in-text citation and list of references are different for every citation style and when working with them, we suggest that you study the respective citation style in depth.
There are many things that make these citations from each other. In the below sections, we have discussed these differences in detail.
American Psychological Association (APA)
APA style is one of the most commonly used citation styles. It is used by both the researchers and the students. The style is easy to follow and this is why students prefer it over Chicago and other types of referencing styles. Commonly, this citation format is used in the fields of engineering and business as it is more precise and to the point.
Some key guidelines for APA citation are given below:
- The title page will have the name of the student, the title of the essay or assignment, and the deadline of the paper
- Each page will have a header having a short essay title
- The in-text will contain the last name of the author followed by the date of publication, (Williams, 2014)
- The complete reference will include the last name of the author, the initials of the first name, the date of publication, the title of the work, and the source, an example of APA citation style is;
Stewart, D. & Simmons, M. (2010). The Business Playground: Where Creativity and Commerce Collide. Berkeley, USA: New Riders Press.
All of these guidelines will help you format your paper accordingly.
Modern Language Association (MLA)
MLA referencing style is different from APA and is commonly used by the people associated with the fields of humanities like art, literature, linguistics, religion, and others. This citation style allows the students and writers to add detailed and well-researched references into the essay or paper’s body. After APA, the MLA citation style is the most widely used.
Main MLA citation style guidelines are given below:
- The MLA style paper does not have a separate title page and the name of the student, the name of the teacher, and the deadline of the paper
- A running head with the name of the student and page number is added on each page
- The in-text citation contains the last name of the author and the page number or paragraph number from where the quote has been used, (Arthur 22)
- The references are regarded as ‘Works Cited’ and it is arranged alphabetically
- The reference, or the citation, is structured with the last name first structure, followed by the page number and the publisher
Stewart, Dave, and Mark Simmons. The Business Playground: Where Creativity and Commerce Collide. New Rider Press, 2010.
MLA style is considered easier than other citation styles as the students do not have to prepare and add a title page separately. However, before formatting your paper in MLA style, it is important that you learn and understand the basics of this referencing style.
The Chicago Manual of Style
The Chicago style is mostly used in the field of History. The Chicago Manual of style manages both Chicago and Turabian citation styles. The Chicago style is used by the researchers and academic journal contributors while the Turabian style is used by the students.
Some key components of Chicago and Turabian citation style are given below:
- Both styles offer two kinds of adding in-text references in the paper’s body
- The student can either add the in-text as a footnote or in the parenthesis, in front of the quoted idea, phrase, or direct quote
- When adding a footnote, a superscripted number is added before the line where the quote is added
- Following the superscripted number, the footnote is added in the footer of the same page
- If adding the in-text in the parenthesis, the student will add the last name of the author, year of publication, and the page number from where the quote or idea has been taken.
The Chicago citation style is different from other referencing formats and styles and this is why learning and understanding it before implementation is important and necessary.
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
The IEEE citation is a specialized type of citation that is developed to be used by the fields of engineering and other technical fields. Since it is used by the students and researchers of technical fields, it has minimum content and it is based more on numbers and numerical values and explanations.
When citing in the IEEE style, take care of the following things:
- The list of references is arranged in numerical format
- There is no need to add the name of the author and the date of publication, instead, add the number of the reference in the bracket in front of the phrase or the quote
- When preparing the reference, add the initials of the first name and the last name followed by the year of publication, the main title of the paper, and the weblink from where you got it
The citation style is closely related to the Chicago style and in case you do not find anything clarified in the IEEE style, you can refer to the Chicago style guide.
American Sociological Association (ASA)
The ASA citation style is more commonly used in the field of Sociology. The style is somewhat like working with APA as its title page and other details are quite similar to the APA style. Still, there are some differences that make it different from other referencing styles.
Some of the things that you must take care of when working with the ASA style are given below:
- The title page will include the full name of the student, the name of the institute, and the complete address of the student
- When creating the in-text citation, add the last name of the author and the year of publication
- When creating the reference, add the last name of the author first and the first name last, followed by the year of publication
- The list of works cited and used in the paper are listed in the ‘References’
Citing in ASA style could be simpler than other styles as it is somewhat like the APA citation style but you need to keep the differences in view when working with it.
Harvard citation style is an unofficial citation style that is commonly used by the students of economics and humanities. The style is like APA style and this may confuse students when working on it. However, there are some minor things and elements that make them different from each other.
Below are some easy to follow guidelines for Harvard citation:
- The title page will include the full name of the student, the full name of the teacher, the subject name, and the paper deadline
- The in-text citation includes the last name of the author, the year of publication, and the page number
- The reference entry will include the last name of the author, the initials of the first name, the year of publication, the title of the work cites, the publisher, and the page numbers
- The guidelines include in-text and citation formats for different kinds of works that you should follow these guidelines
The changes and differences could be minor between Harvard and APA style, therefore, when working with it, you must be careful with these changes.
Oxford Style Citation
The Oxford referencing style is specifically developed to be used by the students of law but students from other disciplines can also use it. It is also known as the OSCOLO style and is often regarded as the documentary-style citation. It is somewhat like the Chicago-style manual as it also has footnotes.
Below, we have given some important factors of the Oxford style citation:
- It has two parts; the footnotes that are added at the bottom of the page and the references page that has the list of the works that are used in the paper
- To add the footnote, add a superscript number with the phrase or word that you want to explain
- Make sure that you have added all the works that you have used in the paper, into the references list
- The details like the name of the author and the page number from where the citation or quote has been taken
- The format for the footnotes for different kinds of sources may be different from each other so study them carefully
- Both the footnotes and bibliography have different formats and design
Oxford style is different from others and you will have to follow set guidelines when working with it.
AMA Style (American Medical Association)
AMA style is the short form for the American Medical Association. The citation style is specifically used by the students of the medical field and is also used to style and format the publications and articles of medical journals. The style guide is published by the Oxford University Press and follows the numerical referencing method.
To work with the AMA style, follow the below key elements:
- The font style and size are Times New Roman and 12 pt.
- The addition of the title page is a choice and you can, instead, add the student and paper details as the header of the paper
- Instead of the author’s name and year of publication, a superscript number is added with the fact or phrase that is cited
- The superscript number takes the reader to the full citation added in the references list
The style is somewhat like the IEEE style as it also uses a numerical system for citation and referencing purposes.
ACS Style (American Chemical Society)
ACS stands for the American Chemical Society and the ACS style is commonly used by the society of chemicals studies. It is different from other citation styles as it is specifically developed by the editors and researchers of the chemical field.
It has the following important elements that you need to take for:
- Since the style is specifically used in the field of Chemistry, it is developed for the students and researchers of this field only
- The style has three distinct modes of citation: the superscript number, the italicized number added in the parenthesis, and the author’s surname and year of publication
- The structure and format of the style is well-defined and when working with it, you will have to follow them carefully
It may look similar to other citation styles but it is flexible and you can choose any citation pattern that is allowed in it.
NLM Style (National Library of Medicine)
The abbreviated form of the National Library of Medicine, the NLM style is developed to be used to cite the sources used and added in the writings and publications of the medical journals. Medical sources have different citation formats and the NLM style will help you understand and use them easily.
Below are the significant elements of the NLM style:
- The citation style is flexible in a way that it offers three formats for citation: the citation and sequence, the citation and name, and the last name and year of publication
- The citation format is different for different citation sources like books, journals, articles, and web pages
- The citation will include the name of the author, the date of publication, the title of the article of the book, and the URL of the web page, in case of an online source
The citation style is commonly used to cite sources in medical journals and publications.
AAA Style (American Anthropological Association)
The American Anthropological Association is specifically developed to be used in the field of anthropology. The AAA style is a variation of the Chicago Manual of Style and, therefore, is closely related to it. However, it is a bit different from it.
Below, we have mentioned and explained some key elements of the AAA style below:
- The names of the books, journals, and articles are neither italicized or underlined, they are added in a simple format
- Instead of the initials of the first name, add the last name followed by the full first name
- The page having the references is titled the ‘References Cited’ page
- The entries in the References Cited age are double spaced for the students’ work and single-spaced for the works that are to be published in the journals
The AAA style is different from the Chicago style in the way that the main titles are not italicized.
APSA Style (American Political Science Association)
The APSA style is specifically designed to be used by the students and researchers of the political science field. It is different from other styles and is not as common as other styles. When working with the APSA style, follow the below guidelines:
- The last name of the author and the year of publication is added in the parenthesis, at the end of the quote
- The page number is also added at the end of the quote
- Instead of initials, full names are used; the last name followed by a comma and first name of the author
- The names of the books and journals will be italicized
- The titles of the chapters and articles are added with quotation marks
The APSA style is closely related to the Chicago manual. The list of references is arranged alphabetically and it will be titled ‘References’.
All the citation styles are different from each other. Since many of them are developed for specific fields of study, they could be entirely different from each other. The complete and comprehensive guides given here will help you understand these different citation styles and make your papers according to them.
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Frequently asked questions
What are the two types of citations used in APA Style?
There are two types of in-text citations used within the body of an APA paper to help your reader locate the corresponding reference list. Parenthetical citation is a brief note at the end or beginning of a sentence that cites source information, whereas narrative cite provides more detail about what was referenced.
What type of citation uses numbers?
IEEE citation style includes in-text citations, which refer to the full citation listed at the end of a paper. The reference list is organized numerically and not alphabetically.