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Citing Your Sources

This guide will help you cite your sources properly to avoid plagiarism in your writing. It also introduces various tools for creating and managing citations, including library-supported RefWorks.

Why are there different citation styles?

One of the important reasons for citing your sources is to provide readers with enough information so they can track down the sources you used to support your research. 

Considering this reason for citing your sources, all citation styles require the same basic elements, which include: author or author names, title of the article or chapter, title of the book or journal or source of the article, editor, edition number, publisher, publication year, volume, issue, and location.

Different citation styles exist because scholars and researchers of different disciplines prioritize the types of information differently and therefore create citations that reflect those priorities.

Which style guide should you use?

Once you have decided on a topic for your research, here are tips to help you decide which citation style to use.

  1. Follow the format your professor suggests (check your assignment guidelines or course syllabus!).
  2. Ask your professor what to use if no format was assigned.
  3. If you have no advice from your professor, try these:
    Humanities (especially Literature or Languages)
    Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook
    Social Sciences (especially Psychology and Behavioral Science)
    Publication Manual of American Psychological Association
    Physical and Natural Sciences
    CSE (Council of Scientific Editors) Manual
    Chicago Manual of Style (This is a very detailed guide. Chicago is sometimes used by scholarly writers across disciplines and contains two separate styles: one for writers in literature, history, and the arts, and one for writers in the physical, natural and social sciences).
    A general guide
    Turabian is used by students in all disciplines. It is designed to complement the Chicago Manual of Style, but be simpler and easier to use.

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