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Citing Your Sources

This guide is intended to help you cite sources, avoid plagiarism, learn about citation styles and available citation tools, and more.

What Style Should I Use?


There are many different citation styles that continue to evolve as technology and varieties of resources increase. Generally, a citation style is established by a ruling body, typically one of a specific profession or subject area, and provides rules and conventions that best fit the types of sources used by that profession/ subject area.

While in school, you should use the style required by your assignment or professor.

APA Style

APA Style, currently in its 6th edition, is a citation protocol established by the American Psychological Association. This style was developed to ensure consistency and to provide style rules for scientific writing. Click here for more information.

APA is most often used in the disciplines of:

  • Social Sciences (including Psychology, Education, Sociology, Economics, Criminal Justice, etc.)
  • Business
  • Nursing

What does APA Style include?

  • the format & structure of your paper
  • how you cite other authors within the body of your paper
  • how you compile a references page at the end of your paper

MLA Style

MLA Style, currently in its 7th edition, is a citation protocol established by the Modern Language Association. This style was developed for students to support the writing process. Click here for more information.

MLA is most often used in the Humanities disciplines including, but not limited to:

  • English Language & Literature
  • Comparative Literature
  • Cultural Studies
  • Foreign Languages
  • Other areas in the humanities

What does MLA Style include?

  • the format & page layout of your paper
  • stylistic technicalities (e.g. abbreviations, footnotes, quotations)
  • how you cite other authors within the body of your paper
  • how you compile a references page at the end of your paper

Chicago Style

Chicago Style, currently in its 16th edition, is a citation protocol established by the University of Chicago. 

Chicago Style is most often used in the disciplines of:

  • History
  • Religion

What does Chicago Style include?

  • instruction for manuscript preparation and publication
  • guidelines for style, grammar and usage
  • rules for documenting your sources in-text including the Notes-Bibliography System (NB) and the Author-Date System
  • guidelines for a Bibliography at the end of your paper

Other Styles

First, it's important that you use the citation style required by your assignment or professor (your syllabus or assignment guidelines/description should list the required citation style but if not, ask your professor).

If you are permitted to choose a citation style to use, it may be easiest to choose one of the most common citation styles (APA, MLA, Chicago).

You may also want to choose a citation style based on the field of study you are working in. Here is a brief list of some major disciplines and the citation styles most commonly associated with them:

CITATION STYLE FIELD OF STUDY OR PROFESSION
AAA (American Anthropological Association)
Full access pdf - free
Anthropology
ACS (American Chemical Society)
Information about guide - no free access
Chemistry
AIP ( American Institute of Physics)
Full access pdf - free
Physics
ALWD (Association of Legal Writing Directors) and Blue Book
Information about guide - no free access

Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (online ed. 2013) by Peter W. Martin
Free access to basic legal citation information website from Cornell University Law School
Legal Studies
AMA (American Medical Association)
Full access with mySNHU login credentials - free
Medical Sciences
AMS (American Mathematical Society)
Full access pdf - free
Mathematics
AP (Associated Press)
Information about guide - no free access
Journalism
Public Relations
APA (American Psychological Association)
Information about guide - no free access APA Guide Purdue OWL
Full access website - free
Business
Criminology
Economics
Education
Psychology
Social Sciences
Sociology
APSA (American Political Science Association)
Full access pdf - free
International Studies
Political Science
ASA (American Sociological Association)
Information about guide - no free access

ASA Guide Purdue OWL
Full access website - free
Sociology
Chicago Manual of Style
Quick guide access - free (not full manual)

Chicago Manual of Style Purdue OWL
Full access website - free
Humanities
History
Religion
Social Sciences
CSE (Council of Science Editors)
Information about guide - no free access

CSE Guide Research and Documentation Online 5th Edition by Diana Hacker
Full access website - free
Biology
Harvard Business School
Full access pdf - free
Business
LSA Style Sheet
Full access pdf - free
Linguistics
Maroonbook (The University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation)
Full access pdf - free
Legal Studies
MLA (Modern Language Association)
Information about guide - no free access

MLA Guide Purdue Owl
Full access website - free
Humanities
Literature
NLM (National Library of Medicine)
Full access website and pdf - free
Medical Publications
Turabian
Quick guide access - free (not full manual)
Humanities
Natural Sciences
Social Sciences

A larger listing of disciplines and citation styles can be accessed on OWL at Purdue website.