Learn about citation styles and their formats. Find out how different citation styles should appear within an academic paper, then take a quiz to test your new knowledge.

Definition

When you write a research paper and borrow material from outside sources to support your ideas, an in-text citation is required so the source will get credit and to avoid plagiarism. Depending on whether your paper is written in APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association) or CMS (Chicago Manual of Style) style, the format of your citations will vary.

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The term ‘style’ refers to documentation rules that students need to follow when they put their papers together. A paper in APA style looks different than one in MLA or CMS style. The terms ‘format’ and ‘style’ are used interchangeably.

Citations in APA Style

The general format for APA is ‘author-date.’ For example:

  • At the end of a quote or a paraphrase (Jones, 20XX)
  • In a signal phrase: According to Jones (20XX), ‘The results are conclusive’ (p.22).
  • Web sources should be cited just like print sources, with author and year (Jones, 20XX). If the author’s name isn’t available, provide the title or website title in-text: (Suburban Life, 2003).

Things to Remember About APA:

  • The year should appear with the author’s name. If no author name is available, then the year should appear with a title of the work or website title: XYZ Laboratories (20XX) announced today, ‘We’ve completed the project.’
  • Page numbers are required only if you’ve quoted directly. The period appears after the parenthesis.
  • Never use URLs as a citation. Use the title or website title if no author name is available.
  • Each citation must have a corresponding entry in the References page.

Citations in MLA Style

The general format for MLA is ‘author-page number.’ For example:

  • At the end of a quote or paraphrase: (Smith 29)
  • In a signal phrase: According to Smith (129), ‘We are nearly finished with the project.’
  • For works without authors or page numbers, provide the title or website title with quotation marks inside the parenthesis: (‘Today’s News’).
  • Web sources should be cited just like print sources, but since Web pages usually don’t include page numbers, include a paragraph number if one is available. For example: (Olson, par. 6)

Things to Remember About MLA:

  • Always include the page number, if one is available.
  • Never use full URLs as a citation.
  • Each citation must have a corresponding entry in the Works Cited page.

Citations in Chicago Manual of Style

CMS format uses a ‘notes and bibliography’ (NB) method of citation. Whenever you quote or paraphrase, add a super-scripted number at the end of the quote or paraphrase. Each number corresponds to a source name and page number in a footnote at the bottom of the page or in a list of end-notes at the end of the document.

When a source is used several times in a row it receives a new super-scripted number each time, but in place of repeating the author and title, the foot note or end-note uses the term ‘Ibid’ and the page number like this: Ibid., 305. ‘Ibid.’ is an abbreviation of the Latin Ibidem, which means the ‘the same place’ and refers to the text that appears just before it.

Things to Remember About CMS

  • Never put URLs, names or page numbers in-text; put them in the footnote or end-note.
  • A bibliography has to appear at the end of the document with all sources listed in alphabetical order.

Learning Outcome

When you are done, you should be able to describe and implement the citation styles for APA, MLA, and CMS.