Rules for citing sources and citation formats can get complicated. A number of style guides have been developed that provide consistency in how information is cited. Some of the most common styles are APA, Chicago, and MLA. Citation styles are often associated with certain professional groups and disciplines. For instance, APA, American Psychological Association, is often used in the social sciences while MLA, Modern Language Association, is popular in the literature and humanities area. Some professors don’t care which citation style you use as long as you are consistent.
There are a variety of resources available to help you cite sources correctly. Internet sites can be a simple place to start. However, to understand all the rules and exceptions, be sure to use the official manual published by the style’s sponsor. Rules for citation styles change over time, particularly in regards to citing information available on the Internet, so it is important to use the latest style guide edition.
Helpful style guide web sites:
- CSUSM Citation Help — Provides help on 8 different style guides and suggestions on citing e-books
- OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab has several helpful style guide sites:
KnightCite can help generate citations for APA, Chicago and MLA styles. It can be a useful tool to get you started but you still need to check the final citation for accuracy.
Examples of style guide manuals in the CSUSM Library
- MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. (LB2369 .G53 2009)
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. (BF76.7 P83 2010)
- The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (Z253 .U69 2010)
Last updated 8/23/2012 by Sue Thompson