There are literally hundreds of different referencing styles from which to choose when you are citing the sources of your research material. Different academic disciplines have differing priorities of what is important to the subsequent reader of an academic paper, and different publishing houses have differing rules about the citation of sources.
“A conventional word or phrase used in a work to refer the reader to another part of the text or a similar word or phrase used in an index, catalog, or reference work to direct the user from one heading or entry to another. Also refer to any Latin phrase used in footnotes, endnotes, and bibliographies to refer the reader to works previously quoted or cited, for example, IBID and op.cit.”
APA stands for "American Psychological Association" and comes from the association of the same name. Although originally drawn up for use in psychological journals, the APA style is now widely used in the social sciences, in education, in business, and numerous other disciplines.
MLA comes from the "Modern Language Association of America" and is used mainly in English and the Humanities.
Chicago is sometimes referred to as Turabian or Chicago/Turabian. It comes from the "Chicago Manual of Style" and the simplified version of it, "A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations", that Kate Turabian wrote. Chicago is used mainly in the social sciences, including history, political studies, and theology.
Vancouver originally came from The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors which produced the "Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals" following a meeting that was held in Vancouver in 1978. The Vancouver style is used mainly in the medical sciences.
Harvard came originally from "The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation" published by the Harvard Law Review Association. The Harvard style and its many variations are used in law, natural sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and medicine.
What Is MLA Style
The MLA style has been widely adopted by schools, academic departments, and instructors for over half a century. The association's guidelines are also used by over 1,100 scholarly and literary journals, newsletters, and magazines and by many university and commercial presses. The MLA's guidelines are followed throughout North America and in Brazil, China, India, Japan, Taiwan, and other countries around the world.
The MLA publishes two authoritative explanations of MLA style: The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.
The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
The MLA Handbook is the association's guide for high school and undergraduate students on the preparation of research papers. It gives step-by-step advice on every aspect of writing papers, from selecting a topic to submitting the completed paper. It provides an authoritative presentation of MLA documentation style for use in student writing.
The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing
The MLA Style Manual is the association's guide for graduate students, scholars, and professional writers. It offers complete guidance on writing and documenting scholarly texts, submitting them for peer review, and preparing them for publication. The volume provides a chapter on copyright, fair use, contracts, and other legal issues. Another chapter addresses the special requirements for submitting theses and dissertations. This edition of the MLA Style Manual presents a significant revision of MLA documentation style, which the MLA began to use in its own publications in January 2009. Authors of articles, books, theses, dissertations, and other scholarly works in MLA style should use the guidelines in this volume.
WORKS CITED – GENERAL GUIDELINES
The alphabetical list of works cited that appears at the end of your paper contains more information about all of the sources you've cited allowing readers to refer to them, as needed. The main characteristics are:
The list of Works Cited must be on a new page at the end of your text
Entries are arranged alphabetically by the author's last name or by the title if there is no author
Titles are italicized (not underlined) and all important words should be capitalized
Replace the author's name by three hyphens and arrange alphabetically by the book's title:
Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Viking, 1985. Print.
---. The Disappearance of Childhood. New York: Vintage, 1994. Print.
ANTHOLOGY OR COMPILATION:
Abate, Corinne S., ed. Privacy, Domesticity, and Women in Early Modern England. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2003. Print.
A WORK IN AN ANTHOLOGY OR AN ESSAY IN A BOOK:
Naremore, James. "Hitchcock at the Margins of Noir." Alfred Hitchcock: Centenary Essays. Ed. Richard Allen and S. Ishii-Gonzalès. London: BFI, 1999. 263-77. Print.
BOOK BY A CORPORATE AUTHOR:
Associations, corporations, agencies and organizations are considered authors when there is no single author.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Action against Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol and Beyond. Paris: OECD, 1999. Print.
ARTICLE IN A REFERENCE BOOK OR AN ENTRY IN AN ENCYCLOPEDIA:
If the article/entry is signed, include the author's name; if unsigned, begin with the title of the entry
Guignon, Charles B. "Existentialism." Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Ed. Edward Craig. 10 vols. London: Routledge, 1998. Print.
ARTICLE REPRINTED IN A REFERENCE BOOK ONLINE:
Carlson, Eric W. “The Range of Symbolism in Poetry.” The South Atlantic Quarterly 48.3 (1949): 442-52. Rpt. in Poetry Criticism. Ed. Jane Kelly Kosek and Christine Slovey. Vol. 13. Detroit: Gale, 1995. 83-84. Literature Criticism Online. Web. 18 Oct. 2009.
Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis. Trans. and Ed. Stanley Corngold. New York: Bantam, 1972. Print.
A GOVERNMENT PUBLICATION:
United Nations. Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs. Population Division. Charting the Progress of Populations. New York: UN, 2000. Print.
BOOK IN A SERIES:
Bloom, Harold, ed. André Malraux. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. Print. Modern Critical Views.
ARTICLE IN A JOURNAL:
Article retrieved in print/paper format
Ferrer, Ada. "Cuba 1898: Rethinking Race, Nation, and Empire." Radical
History Review 73 (1999): 22-49. Print.
Article retrieved on the Web
Sehmby, Dalbir S. "Wrestling and Popular Culture." CCLWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 4.1 (2002): n. pag. Web. 29 Mar. 2009.
Article retrieved in a library database
Brennan, Katherine Stern. "Culture in the Cities: Provincial Academies during the Early Years of Louis XIV's Reign." Canadian Journal of
History 38.1 (2003): 19-42. CBCA Complete. Web. 29 Mar. 2004.
ARTICLE IN A NEWSPAPER OR MAGAZINE:
Semenak, Susan. "Feeling Right at Home: Government Residence
Eschews Traditional Rules." Montreal Gazette 28 Dec. 1995, Final Ed.: A4.
AN ENTIRE WEB SITE:
Linder, Douglas O. Famous Trials. Univ. of Missouri Kansas-City Law
School, 2009. Web. 29 Apr. 2009.
A PAGE ON A WEB SITE:
An entry for a non-periodical item found on the Web contains the following:
Last name, First name. "Document title if available." Title of the overall Web site. Version or edition if available. Publisher or N.p. to designate no publisher, publication date or n.d. to mean no date. Web. Date of access.
"Joyce Wieland." Celebrating Women's Achievements: Women Artists in Canada. National Library of Canada, 2000. Web. 29 Mar. 2004.
Kirn, Walter. "The Wages of Righteousness." Rev. of Cloudsplitter, by Russell Banks. New York Times Book Review 22 Feb. 1998: 9. Print.
TELEVISION OR RADIO PROGRAM:
"Scandal of the Century." Narr. Linden MacIntyre. The Fifth Estate. CBC Television. 23 Jan. 2002. Television.
Ellington, Duke. "Black and Tan Fantasy." Music is My Mistress. Musicmasters, 1989. CD.
FILM, VIDEORECORDING OR DVD:
The Shining. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Perf. Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall. Warner Bros., 1980. Videocassette.
MUSICAL COMPOSITION, PUBLISHED SCORE:
Beethoven, Ludwig van. Symphony no. 4 in B-flat major, op. 60. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2001. Print.