A citation style is a set of rules that specifies the format and content of a citation. Each style outlines a set of rules for authors to follow. Adherence to the rules is required to make a correct citation. Most academic disciplines have a preferred style, but the style you should use is usually specified by the instructor or noted in the assignment guidelines.
All major citation styles are comprised of a brief in-text citation, as well as a detailed list of cited sources at the end of the document, however the method varies by citation style.
Brief In-Text Citation Styles
Parenthetical Citations require you to place the necessary citation components into parentheses. For example, (Freud, 1930).
Footnotes require the use of numeric footnotes, which direct readers to the footer of the document. The footer contains the necessary citation components. For example, Schama3.
Detailed Source List Styles
Reference Lists, Works Cited pages, and Bibliographies are all alphabetical lists of the sources used within a paper.
The chart below outlines the terminology used by each citation style. Remember to consult the citation style guide to check for any exceptions.
|Citation Style||In-Text Citation||List of Citations|
|APA||Parenthetical Citation||Reference List|
|MLA||Parenthetical Citation||Works Cited|
Sample papers - Opens in a new window formatted in APA, MLA, and Chicago are available thanks to the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).
Almost every academic discipline has its own preferred style. English instructors tend to prefer MLA style, and Business Schools often ask for APA style. Find the style for your discipline by browsing the following research guide from Sheridan College:
APA is often used in the following disciplines:
MLA is often used in the following disciplines:
Chicago is often used in the following disciplines:
Canadian Uniform Legal Citation is often used in the following discipline: