Skip to main content

Research Guides

Citation Styles & Tools: Which citation style should I use?

Quick help on citing sources and tools for storing and organizing sources.

What are the citation styles?

There are (3) major citation styles used in academic writing:

 

  • Modern Language Association (MLA)
  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • Chicago, which supports two styles:
    • Notes and Bibliography
    • Author-Date.

There are many other citation styles used in specific academic journals. To explore additional styles, check out the Other Citation Styles page.

Which citation style should I use?

The citation style you choose will largely be dictated by the discipline in which you're writing, and for most assignments your instructor will assign a style to you. However, as you progress through your academic career, you may find more flexibility in choosing a style that works for you. It's always best to check with your instructor and colleagues as to what style is appropriate. If you have flexibility, use the guide below to help you decide.

Humanities: English, Art History, Philosophy, Music, Religion, Language, Linguistics, Etc. Social Sciences, Education, Engineering, etc. History, or the Humanities Physical, Natural, or Social Sciences

Try: MLA

MLA style uses parenthetical in-text citations and a "Works Cited" list at the end of a paper to link sources

Try: APA

APA style uses parenthetical in-text citations and a "References" list at the end of the paper to link sources

Try: Chicago Notes & Bibliography

Chicago notes utilizes footnotes and endnotes to link text to sources.

Try: Chicago Author-Date

Chicago author-date utilizes parenthetical in-text citations and a references or works cited list at the end, similar to the APA style.

The humanities place emphasis on authorship and interpreting primary sources in a historical context. The author's name is the first piece of information preceding title and publication information on the "Works Cited" list at the end of the work. These disciplines place emphasis on the date of creation or publication, in an effort to track currency and relevancy. The date is listed immediately following the author's name in the "References" list. Typically accompanied by a "Bibliography" page. Typically accompanied by a "References" or "Works Cited" page. 
For more information on the MLA style and how to use it, check out the MLA style page For more information on the APA style and how to use it, check out the APA style page. For more information on this style and how to use it, check out the Chicago Notes and Bibliography style page For more information on this style and how to use it, check out the Chicago Author-Date style page

 

 

 

PRO Tip

Citation styles dictate more than just in-text citation and reference list formatting.  They also have rules for how to structure your paper and, in some cases, the cover sheet for your paper.  Don't worry, each citation style has its own manual to help you figure out exactly how it all works. 

To find more information on specific citation styles and their corresponding style guide, check out the pages linked in the table.