Citation styles differ mostly in the location, order, and syntax of information about references. The number and diversity of citation styles reflect different priorities with respect to concision, readability, dates, authors, publications, and, of course, style.
There are also two major divisions within most citation styles: documentary-note style and parenthetical style. Documentary-note style is the standard form of documenting sources. It involves using either footnotes or endnotes so that information about your sources is readily available to your readers but does not interfere with their reading of your work.
In the parenthetical style, sometimes called the “author-date” style or “in-text” style, references to sources are made in the body of the work itself, through parentheses. An example of this would be the following sentence, taken from page 23 of a book written by Professor Scott in 1999:
Professor Scott asserts that “environmental reform in Alaska in the 1970s accelerated rapidly as the result of pipeline expansion.” (Scott 1999, 23)
This is generally considered an abbreviated form of citation, and it does not require footnotes or endnotes, although it does require the equivalent of a “Works Cited” page at the end of the paper. It is easier to write, but might interfere with how smoothly your work reads. See your instructor for information on which form, documentary-note style or parenthetical style, is appropriate for your paper.
With so many different citation styles, how do you know which one is right for your paper? First, we strongly recommend asking your instructor. There are several factors which go into determining the appropriate citation style, including discipline (priorities in an English class might differ from those of a Psychology class, for example), academic expectations (papers intended for publication might be subject to different standards than mid-term papers), the research aims of an assignment, and the individual preference of your instructor.
If you want to learn more about using a particular citation style, we have provided links to more specific resources below. Just choose the appropriate discipline from the menu on the left, or scroll down until you find the style that interests you.
Writer’s Handbook: Chicago Style Documentation
Excellent FAQ on Usage in the Chicago Style
Online! Guide to Chicago Style
MLA (Modern Language Association)
Writer’s Handbook: MLA Style Documentation
Online! Guide to MLA Style
Useful Guide to Parenthetical Documentation
Turabian (an academic style that works in other disciplines as well)
Turabian bibliography samples (Ithaca College Library). Based on the 6th edition of Turabian's Manual.
Turabian Style: Sample Footnotes and Bibliographic Entries (6th edition) (Bridgewater State College)
Turabian style guide: (University of Southern Mississippi Libraries)
Turabian Citation Style Examples (Northwest Missouri State University
ACS (American Chemical Society)
ACS Books Reference Style Guidelines
AMA (American Medical Society)
CBE (Council of Biology Editors)
Writer’s Handbook: CBE Style Documentation
Online! Guide to CBE Style
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
Sample IEEE Documentation Style for References
Electrical Engineering Citation Style
NLM (National Library of Medicine)
National Library of Medicine Recommended Formats for Bibliographic Citation (PDF format)
Vancouver (Biological Sciences)
Introduction to the Vancouver Style
Vancouver Style References
Detailed Explanation of the Vancouver style
AAA (American Anthropological Association)
Citations and Bibliographic Style for Anthropology Papers
AAA Style Handbook (PDF format)
APA (American Psychological Association)
Writer’s Handbook: APA Style Documentation
Bibliography Style Handbook (APA)
Online! Guide to APA Style
APSA (American Political Science Association)
Writer’s Handbook: APSA Documentation
Cornell University’s Introduction to Basic Legal Citation
Legal Research and Citation Style in the USA
Other: General info on citing web documents
Recommended Multi-Style Links