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Citation Help: Beginner's Guide

What's a Citation?

A citation is something you add to the body of your paper that shows that an idea, fact, or quotation you are including comes from someone else, and it points your reader toward the reference which identifies the source.

All citations include enough information for your reader to find the source on your reference page.

What's a Reference?

A reference comes at the end of your paper, and gives your reader enough information to find a source for themselves.

All references include

  • The author
  • The title of the work
  • The year of publication

Each style puts these in a different order, but they are always there. 

Most citation styles will incorporate additional information about certain sources. For example:

  • Journal article - Name of the journal, the volume and issue number
  • Book - the place of publication and the company that published it
  • Chapter of a book - include both the title and author of the chapter as well as the title and editor of the book
  • Online sources - include a url, doi, or other way for your reader to locate the resource

You Want Me to Use What?

  • APA Style is used by many social sciences, such as Sociology or Psychology
  • MLA Style is used by the humanities, such as English or Art
  • Chicago Style is used in History, Business, and certain other fields

If you don't know what style to use, ask your instructor. 

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