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Research Foundations: Citation Styles

Citation Styles

Many fields require a large amount of reading in order to keep current, so it saves time if the material is all in the same "language" or format. Over time, most academic disciplines have settled upon a preferred citation style for writings.

The three most common citation styles at Seminole State include APA, Chicago, and MLA styles. The sections below will introduce you to those styles and provide resources to help you master them. If you are unsure of which citation style to use, consult your professor.

APA Style

APA style is often used for writing in the fields of psychology, business, communications, nursing, history and social sciences. APA stands for the American Psychological Association.

APA Style Online Guides

APA Style Guide Book

Chicago Style

Chicago style citations are unique in that it includes two documentation systems. The first is known as the humanities (notes and bibliography) style and is more often used in the fields of arts and humanities. The second is the author-date system, used more often in the natural sciences.

Chicago Style Online Guides

Chicago Style Guide Book

MLA Style

MLA style is a commonly used style found in the humanities including language and literature. MLA is an acronym for Modern Language Association.

MLA Style Online Guides

MLA Style Guide Book

Why Cite?

Good research projects combine data from a variety of sources and carefully document the sources of information and ideas. Research documentation usually appears in two parts: short in-text citations occurring within the actual paper and a longer, complete list of works at the end of the paper called a bibliography, reference list, or works cited page. 

Besides giving credit to the source of information or ideas, there are other great reasons to cite in your research project:

  • Persuasiveness - Your writing will be more persuasive if you cite the research on which you based your own conclusions and arguments.
  • Sharing - Citations make it possible for your professor and other readers to examine interesting sources that you found.
  • Communication - Correct citations helps you communicate effectively with potential peers within a discipline.
  • Skills - Correct citation demonstrates your research and documentation abilities to your professor.
  • Avoid Plagiarism - Correct citation use helps protect you from plagiarizing.

Note: a hyperlink or URL included in the text is not the same as a citation. Ex: "Higher gas prices are on the way (cnn.com/specialreport)." URLs in the text, while common on the internet, are not considered a correct form of scholarly citation.