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Regardless of what type of writing assignments your professor gives you in university, you must have knowledge of which citation styles to use. Why? Because if you use material from a particular source, you need to credit that source and provide the citation in the appropriate style. If you don’t give proper credit where it is due, you will be plagiarizing a source, and that can come with serious consequences.

How many citation styles are there? There are many citation styles. These include APA citation style, MLA citation style, IEEE citation style, Turabian citation style, Vancouver citation style, ACS citation style, Harvard citation style, Chicago citation, and Oxford citation style. You must be aware of each of these.

But first:

It is critical that you understand some general information on citation styles and how to avoid plagiarism when writing.

general tips

General tips

When conducting online research for your writing assignment, you need to know what citation style you need to use. It is also critical that you understand how to avoid plagiarism. The following tips will help:

  1. Narrow down your topic: You must have a very clear idea of what you will be writing. This will guide your research and help you come up with original ideas and thoughts on the subject.

keep track of sources

  1. Keep track of sources: It is crucial that you keep track of everything you read. You should record the full URL of every page you use and document everything you read. Record any details required by the citation style you will be using.
  1. Take notes: You need to summarize the relevant information you find from all sources you use. You can also record your thoughts on the subject matter (take care to always express them in your own words and never to use words from the original text).

Mark fragments of the text

  1. Mark fragments of the text: Any fragments of text you are considering citing in your paper should be clearly marked with citation marks, even if it is a single word. If you find fragments from the original source that you think you might use, you should also mark in a unique way (such as by using a different color or italics) and summarize so you will know it requires a citation should you decide to use it.
  1. Group URLs: Group the URLs and notes you are making use of in a manner that is meaningful, based on the type of information they contain. To aid you with this task, you can use special software, such as a citation manager, or you can use separate files and folders on your computer.

  1. Analyze: The key to avoiding plagiarism is to come up with original thoughts when it comes to the topic of your assignment, and you can do this only if you first analyze the materials found via research. Extract ideas from the text you read, think about them and identify their components and implications.
  1. Synthesize: This consists of connecting the various ideas you identified during your analysis and finding new relationships among them. It helps to add to your notes any new thoughts and to regroup your notes according to the new relationships.

  1. Credit every source: You need to credit your source, even if you are sourcing from the following:
  • Twitter/ Facebook etc.
  • Email
  • An interview
  • Personal communication
  1. Paraphrase: Paraphrasing is writing something in your own words. Feel free to use direct quotes if you think it’s necessary. For all the other cases, remember that the easiest ways to paraphrase are to:
  • Use synonyms
  • Switch between passive and active voice
  • Change sentence structure
  1. Introducing a quote:
    Here are  a few ways you can introduce a quote into your text:
  • According to Doe’s findings…
  • In Doe’s view…
  • Doe reported…
  • Doe noted…
  • Doe stated…
  • Doe argued…
  • Doe described… as …

With knowledge of these general tips firmly entrenched in your mind, you now need to understand the different citation styles, what they are used for, and how to use them.

types of citation style

Types of citation styles

There are a lot of different citation methods. Why so many citation styles you ask? What you should use will hinge on the type of paper your professor has assigned. Three major citation styles are MLA, APA, and Chicago, but there are so many more citation styles in writing. Here are some examples of citation styles you might need to be aware of when learning how to put citations in a paper:

citations styles academic disciplines graph3

  • ACS citation style (American Chemical Society) is used when conducting and creating scientific works in the field of chemistry.
  • MLA style (Modern Language Association) is the accepted citation style for many magazines and journals within the U.S. and other countries across the globe. Plus, it is one of the preferred styles used in universities and colleges.
  • APA citation style (American Psychological Association) is used mostly in social sciences. The description of sources, especially from the Internet, is more detailed than that of the MLA style.
  • Chicago style and Turabian style are quite widespread and are used in social sciences and humanities.
  • Harvard Style is peculiar because its reference is put underneath the citation.
  • IEEE style is used in computer science.
  • Vancouver citation style is the most frequently used style in the field of medicine.

Now that you have a clear concept of what is out there regarding citation styles let’s take a look at each of the most-used styles in detail. Each style will include basic tips, in-text citation rules, and how to reference the source.

acs-citation-style

ACS citation style

The ACS (American Chemical Society) citation style is the one chemistry students are required to use.

General Tips

  1. If there are multiple authors, their names are separated by a semi-colon.
  1. When referencing journal articles, record the title as it appears in the journal. For any other titles, capitalize only the main words.
  1. Use Chapter titles from books and article titles from journals whenever possible.

In-Text Citation

ACS citation style guidelines state that references may be cited in three ways: with a superscript number, an italicized number, or author name and year.

Superscript number:

Paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology.1

Italicized number (either at the end or within the citation):

Paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology (1)

MacFarlane (1) argues that paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology.

Author and year:

Paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology (MacFarlane, 2013).

Referencing

An example of ACS referencing is as follows:

MacFarlane, R. The Old Ways; Penguin Books: London, 2013; p. 14.

For more detailed information on the ACS citation style, Williams College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are fabulous resources.

apa-citation-style

APA citation style

APA (American Psychological Association) format is the most commonly used citation style in the social sciences. When writing an APA style research paper, there are very particular guidelines for format, citations, and referencing.

General Tips

  1. Use 8.5” x 11” paper with a margin of 1-inch (2.54 cm) on each side.
  1. Make use of a font that is clear and easy to read, such as 12 pt. Times New Roman.
  1. Double-space the text and do not insert extra lines between paragraphs.
  1. Include a header that contains a left-aligned short-form title of your essay in all caps (must not be more than 50 characters in length, including spaces). There should also be a page number on the same line as the title that is right-aligned; your first page does not require a page number unless otherwise instructed.
  1. Approximately halfway down the first page, type your full title, capitalizing the first letters of important words, using no more than 12 words (you are permitted to type it on two lines).
  1. On the two lines below your title, include your name (excluding any titles, like Dr.) and your university’s name.
  1. APA style citation for a single page requires “p.” Use “pp.” when citing multiple pages.
  1. In the reference list, the first line of a reference is not indented, but the second and subsequent lines are.

In-Text Citation

When using the APA style citation in text, it is required that you provide the author’s last name, the year in which publication occurred, and the page number referenced, all separated by commas and placed in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Alternatively, you can include the author’s name in the sentence and include the publication year in parentheses directly following the name.

Examples:

Paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology (MacFarlane, 2013, p. 14).

MacFarlane (2013) argues that paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology (p. 14).

Referencing

APA style references sample:

MacFarlane, R. (2013). The Old Ways. London: Penguin Books.

Find out more about how to cite APA style from Concordia University or via these APA guidelines.

chicago citation style

 Chicago citation style

The Chicago Citation Style is used widely in the humanities, especially in history, art history, literature, and the arts. This style recommends documenting sources in footnotes or, preferably, endnotes. Footnotes and endnotes are similar. The difference between footnotes and endnotes is that footnotes list the references for each page at the end of the respective page and endnotes list all references at the end of the paper.

General Tips

  1. In the list of endnotes, begin with the number that corresponds to the in-text citation (not as a superscript), followed by a period and a single space.
  1. Make sure the first line of each entry is indented three spaces.
  1. Use the author’s complete name, and then a comma and the title of the reference.
  1. Underline book titles (or use an italic font) and use quotation marks around article titles.
  1. Ensure all main words in the titles of books and articles are capitalized.
  1. Include the publishing information in parentheses after the title and follow this with a comma and the appropriate page number(s), without using “p.” or “pp.”
  1. If you are referencing an article, the article title should precede the journal or newspaper name and any relevant publication information (such as date, volume, issue, page numbers).
  1. Do not abbreviate months.
  1. Separate distinct parts of the citation with the use of commas, rather than periods.
  1. When referencing in footnotes or endnotes list all notes.
  1. Single-space each reference entry and double-space between entries.

In-Text Citation

When citing sources in-text, use a superscript numeral, which should be located at the end of the quotation or the sentence in which you communicate the source material.

Example:

Paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology.1

Referencing

MLA citation generator:

  1. Robert MacFarlane, The Old Ways (London: Penguin Books, 2013), 14.

As a bibliography entry:

MacFarlane, Robert. The Old Ways. London: Penguin Books, 2013.

Note, you can use a Chicago style citation generator, but beware they aren’t always accurate. For additional information on Chicago citation style, refer to the Chicago Manual of Style.

harvard-citation-style

Harvard citation style

Harvard Citation Style also referred to as the parenthetical system or the author-date system, is frequently used by essay writers around the world. The author-date system originated at Harvard University.

General Tips

  1. For two authors, use (Smith & Jones 2003). When citing three or more authors, write it as (Smith et al. 2003).
  1. With Harvard style guidelines, newspaper articles may apply the newspaper name the publication date after the sentence (The Guardian, December 22, 2004).
  1. For in-text citation marked by quotation marks, it follows the end-quotation mark, “like this” (Jones 2003).
  1. You are not required to cite the page numbers when a citation refers to a general description of an article or book, but must be presented when citing a quotation or paraphrasing from a book or article passage.

In-Text Citation

The most common format for in-text citations is (Surname Year, page number).

Examples:

Paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology (MacFarlane 2013, p. 14)

MacFarlane (2013, p. 14) argues that paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology.

Referencing

This is an example of a reference entry:

MacFarlane, R 2013, The Old Ways, Penguin Books, London.

See the University of Sydney for a fabulous guide on Harvard citation style.

iee citation style

IEEE citation style

The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) citation style is primarily used by electrical and computer engineers.

General Tips

  1. Use the author’s first name or first initial and the last name (differs from MLA citation style, which uses only the author’s last name)
  1. Most titles must be placed in quotation marks, but journal or book titles are to be written in italics.
  1. Put periods after author and book title
  1. Shorten all months to the first three letters (e.g. Mar.)
  1. Clearly differentiate between print sources and electronic sources (especially when it comes to journals)

In-Text Citation

In-text citations should be written as a number in square brackets [1]. The author’s name and year are not required. Each number corresponds to the same number used in the reference list that appears at the end of the assignment.

Referencing

The following are examples of the general format for IEEE referencing:

[1] R. MacFarlane, The Old Ways. London: Penguin Books, 2013, p. 14.

Queens University also provides great information on IEEE citation style.

Mla citation style

MLA citation style

MLA (Modern Language Association) citation style is widely used internationally. It is also a format accepted by a number of magazines and journals and at universities and colleges. The association recommends using it when writing any paper in liberal arts and humanities.

General Tips

  1. If you copy-paste sources from other places make, sure they are referenced in MLA style.
  1. Use appropriate materials that are no older than 20 years.
  1. Give preference to specialized journals.
  1. Paraphrase rather than quote whenever possible.

In-Text Citation

When including in text citations MLA style, you are required put the author’s surname and the page number (separated by a comma) in parentheses directly after the referenced material or place the name of the author within the text and position the page number in parentheses before the period at the end of the sentence.

MLA citation examples:

Paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology (MacFarlane, 14).

MacFarlane argues that paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology (14).

Referencing

When referencing sources in MLA style, here is an example:

MacFarlane, Robert. The Old Ways. London: Penguin Books, 2013. Print.

While it is possible to use an MLA citation generator, you cannot guarantee the results. Refer to the University of British Columbia, McMaster University, and these MLA guidelines for more information on the MLA citation style.

oxford-citation-style

Oxford citation style

Oxford referencing, or the documentary-note citation system is used in papers written for some history and philosophy departments.

General Tips

  1. Citations in the paper body are marked with a superscript number.
  1. Footnotes and endnotes are used.
  1. An annotated bibliography is included, which provides details of each source.
  1. If a quote is more than 30 words, leave out the quotation marks, start it on the next line, and ensure the quote is indented by about 10 mm from the left-hand margin.

In-Text Citation

Superscript numbers should be used each time information or ideas from a source are included. The superscript number should be positioned at the end of the sentence.

Example:

Paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology.1

Referencing

See the following example:

  1. R MacFarlane, The Old Ways, Penguin Books, London, 2013, p. 14.

Check out Deakin University for more information on Oxford style citation.

turabian citation style

Turabian citation style

The Turabian style was developed by Kate Turabian for the University of Chicago. It is an abbreviated version of the Chicago Manual Style. It is preferred in most political science and history courses when it comes to formatting written dissertations, bibliographies, and term papers.

General Tips

  1. For sources of investigation, try choosing books that are no older than 2000’s year of edition.
  1. Use specialized journals.
  1. The title page is a way to make your writing look experienced.
  1. When providing internet links in the bibliography, make sure they don’t take actual shapes of links (underlining is forbidden).
  1. Try to use sources available on campus.

In-Text Citation

When citing sources in-text, a superscript numeral should be positioned at the end of the quotation or at the end of the sentence in which you refer to the source material.

Example:

Paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology.1

Referencing

Footnotes and endnotes examples:

          1. MacFarlane, Robert. The Old Ways. London: Penguin Books, 2013.

Check out McMaster University for more details on Turabian citation style.

Vancouver citation style

Vancouver citation style

Vancouver citation style is the referencing system used in most top-level medical journals. While there are specified Vancouver citation style guidelines, remember that different journals have unique formats for their references.

General Tips

  1. Reference numbers go after commas and full stops, before colons and semicolons
  1. List references at the end of the paper in numerical order, which is the identical order in which they are cited in the text.
  1. The reference list should be placed on a separate page and should be called “References.”
  1. Arabic numbers should be used in superscript.
  1. Abbreviation of journal titles should be in accordance with the NLM Catalog
  1. Ensure the reference details match the details of the source.

In-Text Citation

Superscript numbers should be used each time information or ideas from a source are included. The superscript number is located at the end of the sentence.

Example:

Paths have different characteristics, depending on their purpose and the surrounding geology.1

Referencing

References are to be included as endnotes.

Example:

    • MacFarlane, R. The Old Ways. London: Penguin Books; 2013.

When it comes to citation styles, the bottom line is:

There is a wealth of information about how to put citations in a paper, but remember how important it is to ensure they are correct. Citations in a research paper help ensure you don’t end up plagiarizing someone’s work.

If you are still unsure of how to cite sources in your paper, you can get the help of a custom writing company. You can also watch this video.

Getting the right citation style ensures you will hand in original work.

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