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Citation Style Help

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers detailed information about the most common citation formats: APAMLA, and Chicago Manual of Style. These links will take you to general format information. Use the left sidebar on the Purdue OWL page to find more specific information about citation styles for different types of sources.

Which Style Should I Use?

Always refer to your course syllabus for citation style questions; when in doubt ask your professor what they are expecting in the class.

Certain styles are associated with certain academic fields, however, and highlight different aspects of a citation. 

If the citation style for an assignment is your choice, it makes sense to pick the style that is most often used in the field you are studying.

APA Style

Used primarily in Education, Behavioral Sciences, and Social Sciences.

  • APA Style is designed to produce clear, precise and inclusive writing.
  • This style supports disciplines that emphasizes the date in publication. In APA Style, the date directly follows the author's name.
  • Uses parenthetical in-text citations. Sources are compiled on a "References" page.
Chicago Style

There are two versions, or systems, of Chicago Style. Check with your professor if a system is not specified in the syllabus. If you are asked to use Chicago Style with endnotes or footnotes, you should use the Notes & Bibliography System.

Notes and Bibliography System

  • Used in some Humanities disciplines (including History, Literature, and the Arts).
  • This system can accommodate a variety of source types that are more difficult to format in the author-date system.
  • Uses footnotes for in-text citations. Sources are compiled on a "Bibliography" page.

Author-date systems

  • Used in the Sciences and some Social Sciences disciplines.
  • This systems looks and functions very similarly to APA Style.
  • Utilizes parenthetical in-text citations. Sources are compiled on a "References" or "Literature Cited" page.
MLA Style

Used in Humanities disciplines (including English, Languages, Linguistics, Music, and Philosophy)

  • Humanities research emphasizes authorship. In MLA style citations, the author is most important data point.
  • Uses parenthetical in-text citations. Sources are compiled on a "Works Cited" page.