Citing Sources

Citations are a way to acknowledge when you use someone else’s words or ideas. Using someone else’s words or ideas without including a citation is a form of plagiarism, and can be considered academic misconduct.

Citation Styles

There are many different citation styles! Each discipline tends to use one or two citation styles, though it can vary. These are most popular citation styles:

  • American Psychological Association (APA)
    • Used in the social sciences, including Psychology, Business, and Education
  • Modern Language Association (MLA)
    • Used in the humanities, including English Literature, Film, and Linguistics
  • Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago)
    • Used in a variety of disciplines, including Art, Economics, and History

There are also citation styles that are designed for specific disciplines, such as:

  • Council of Science Editors (CSE)
    • Used in Biology
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
    • Used in Engineering
  • Associated Press Stylebook (AP)
    • Used in Journalism

These are just general guidelines, and some disciplines and courses will choose different styles from those listed above. If you’re not sure which citation style to choose, ask your instructor.

Citation Information

While each citation style is a little bit different—from how the author’s name is represented, to where the date of publication appears—most citations will include the following information:

  • Author(s)
  • Title
  • Journal name (if an article) or book title (if a chapter in an edited book)
  • Date of publication
  • URL, permalink, or DOI (Digital Object Identifier)

Some citation styles will require additional information, such as the date you accessed the material, or the name of the publisher, so it’s a good idea to gather as much information as you can, just in case.

Formatting Sources

With so many citation styles, it can be challenging to remember what goes where (including all those commas and periods). To help you, the Libraries provide support for several citation managers that can make creating citations and reference lists, and switching from one style to another, much easier. Check out these resources to get started:

Want to learn more about citing sources? Check out the Introduction to Plagiarism tutorial.