Guide To Citation Styles

What is Citation?

It is critical to document all sources when performing research for a paper. Citations provide credibility and authority by demonstrating the validity of your study. References explain how you arrived at your conclusions and bolster your arguments.

Citing sources will also help you avoid plagiarism by giving credit to those who contributed to the research you used to write your paper. 

When to Cite a Source?

When possible, include a citation. If you’re unsure whether or not to cite a source, go ahead and do so. You should quote and reference whenever you – Use a verbatim quote from a source. Summarize or paraphrase the ideas, concepts, or opinions of another writer. Anywhere you may discover data, facts, and information for your article, as well as images, visualizations, graphs, and charts.

When Should You Not Cite a Source?

If the information you use is common knowledge, you do not need to cite your source. For example, Barack Obama is the first African American President of the United States; nevertheless, if you’re not sure whether this is general knowledge or not, reference it just to be safe.

The Main Types of Sources -

There are three main types of sources: primary, secondary and peer-reviewed.


Primary sources can be found in their original state, digitized, reprinted, or recreated in some way. They are original papers or first-hand accounts of a historical event or period. Primary sources include:

  • Texts – Novels, letters, diaries, government reports, newspaper articles and autobiographies. Images – Paintings, photographs and advertisements.
  • Artifacts – Sculptures, buildings and clothing.
  • Audio-Visual – Oral history like interviews, songs, films and photos.


Secondary sources are secondary sources that are written about primary sources and are one or more steps removed from the original. Discussions, observations, and interpretations of the primary source or original content are included. Examples of secondary source materials are as follows:

  • Articles from magazines, journals and newspapers.
  • Textbooks, histories and encyclopedias.
  • Book, play, concert and movie reviews, criticisms and commentaries.
  • Articles from scholarly journals assessing or discussing the original research of others.

Peer Reviewed

A peer-reviewed article is a source that has been subjected to several reviews by experts in the field. It is frequently published as an article in a journal or other medical or professional publication. Scholarly disciplines can supply authoritative knowledge of the highest quality through peer-reviewed articles. Peer-reviewed and scholarly articles have these characteristics:

  • List the journal of publication and author credentials.
  • Are an abstract from a larger publication.
  • Include a large number of in-text citations, references, endnotes, footnotes and cited works, as well as a bibliography and appendix.
  • Contain sections like methodology, conclusion and results.
  • Have numerous in-text tables, charts and graphs.
  • Use complex wording specific to the field.

How to Cite

Both in-text and at the end of your paper, cite your sources. The simplest option for in-text citation is to mention the author’s last name and the year of publication in parentheses, as in (Clarke 2001), although the particular manner you cite will depend on the type of style guide you use. When citing data from another author’s work, make sure to explain all relevant features of the work in your own words. Always include a direct reference to the work after the information you’ve supplied.

A variety of citation styles are used by most universities and organizations. The citation style is frequently determined by the professor, so double-check before starting a paper. No matter what the style you use for citing your paper, the process is always the same:

  • On how to create in-text citations, reference lists, and bibliographies, consult the appropriate style guide.
  • Some style guides are available through citation software, which aids in the creation of bibliographies, in-text citations, and reference lists by tracking sources.
  • Use a single standard style throughout the paper and stick to it.

Researchers and writers should understand some of the following styles:


The American Psychological Association (APA) is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of psychology For education, psychology, sociology, and other social sciences, use this style. The APA style of referencing is a variation of the Harvard style. Many of the traditions are the same, such as author-date citations in brackets in the text and full citations in the reference list. In APA style, a reference list rather than a bibliography is usually included. Website citations differ slightly in that they do not require an access or retrieval date unless the page content is expected to change over time. 

Example of APA style for a book with one author:

Doe, J. (1999). Causes of the Civil War. Ohio: Smith Books.

Resources: Reference examples (


The Modern Language Association is a language and literature association. Your professor may require you to cite your sources in MLA style, depending on the topic area of your class or research. Following the Modern Language Association’s requirements, this is a specific citation format. Literature, language, liberal arts, and other humanities courses frequently use the MLA format. This guide goes through the format in great detail; however it is unrelated to the organization.

Modern Language Association – Use this style for arts, literature and the humanities.

  1. Example of MLA style for a book with one author:

Doe, John: “Causes of the Civil War.” Smith.

Resource : MLA Style | Modern Language Association

Chicago or Turabian

For most real-world subjects in periodicals, novels, newspapers, and many other non-scholarly publications, students and researchers employ the Chicago Manual of Style guide, or Turabian.

Example of Chicago style for a book with one author:
Doe, John. 1999. Causes of the Civil War. Columbus, Ohio:
Smith Books.

"Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought"
Albert Szent- Gyorgyi