The Art of Citations: Understanding Different Citation Styles and How to Use Them Correctly


This citation styles guide will assist you to choose the appropriate citation style and understand the key differences. It is essential to understand what footnotes are because this knowledge will help you master the fundamental rules. Because it is one of the most difficult aspects of academic writing, you must understand the fundamentals and learn how to differentiate between various formats. As a rule, you will come across at least three popular citation styles (APA, MLA, and Chicago) and one example that may be relevant to your studies. After reviewing the various citation samples, you’ll know what to use for a specific assignment writing scenario and how to cite sources properly in research papers.

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❓ What is Citation Style?

You’ve probably come across at least one of the well-known styles while reading academic journals or scientific articles with citations. Remember the author’s surname in brackets or footnotes with the reference? This is exactly what citation styles represent!

When you choose APA (American Psychological Association) or have to work with MLA (Modern Language Association), you will encounter a set of guidelines. They’re intended to help you see:

  • how to cite information as you write an assignment;
  • how to format your paper;
  • what fonts to use;
  • how to use specific quotes;
  • how to use more than one author for one source;
  • how to paraphrase.

The primary goal is to avoid plagiarism by giving proper credit to the authors and specifying the borrowed information!

The difficult part of learning what citation format rules to follow is dealing with so many citation options. They will be depending on your subject, the specifics of the assignment, university policies, and even a publisher’s requirements. The majority of these rules are available in lengthy manuals, which are published on an irregular basis. For instance, the Chicago Manual of Style is currently in its seventeenth edition, whereas the MLA is in its ninth edition of 2021. It is important to follow the latest rules and proper citation methods as specific changes must be applied in writing.

🔅 3 Types of citation: note, parenthetical, and numerical citing

To get started, there are three methods for citing in academic writing: the parenthetical method (APA and MLA), numerical citation (IEEE and Vancouver), and note citation (Chicago). Now, let’s take time to learn the major differences between APA, MLA, and Chicago citations.

When dealing with multiple citation styles, the most difficult aspect is choosing what you see on paper versus a source you come across elsewhere. In most cases, you will find the following three methods:

Parenthetical Citation Technique:

This is where you put relevant information about your citation within parentheses. It could contain the author’s last name, publication date, and page number.

Numerical Citation Method:

This is easily identified using superscript numbers. It will be relevant to the entries you must include in your reference list.

Note Citation Approach:

This is the case where you must include a complete citation in the footnotes or endnotes. It also uses superscript numbers, with an increased focus on notes.

The footnote and endnote usage are usually in social sciences research papers.

It is important to remember that citation styles will always go beyond in-text citation rules because formatting is essential. There are rules for fonts, indents, using italics, capitalization, and so on. Always look at relevant manuals or ask your college professor for templates or in-text citation rules and examples.

Overall, we have the following division of styles and their use:

  • MLA, AAA, APA, APSA, ASA, Chicago (Turabian) for author-date, CSE for name-year, and Harvard are all examples of parenthetical citation styles.
  • ACS, AMA, CSE (if using the citation-name or citation-sequence approach)IEEE, NLM, and Vancouver are all examples of numerical citation styles.
  • Bluebook, Chicago (Turabian) when taking notes, and OSCOLA are all examples of note citation style.

In the next section, you will get an understanding APA, MLA, and Chicago citation styles.

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📖 How many citation styles are there?

According to data provided by the University of Arlington, modern students use over 200 different citation styles for academic referencing, scientists, and publishers. However, the most popular will only provide a list of five to ten styles. Notable sources include MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, Turabian, and Vancouver. The other citation style nuances that might be encountered will relate to specific tasks and studies.

Other examples of citation styles vary depending on the subject. IEEE standards will also be used by engineers studying electronics and engineering. Students studying nursing and healthcare administration will use the National Library of Medicine, or NLM, style. Students majoring in Political Science will use either the Chicago or APSA citation styles.

Now you will explore citation style guidelines for different disciplines, keep reading!

📒 Citation Styles for Sciences

Depending on your college or university discipline, you will encounter at least five citation styles, including the most well-known IEEE or ACS.

🔮 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

It is one of the most widely used citation best practices when dealing with electrical engineering, cybersecurity, electronics, and data science studies. It is famous for its numerical citation styles for the information presented in your assignment. The References page is presented in numerical order. Each source has a single space mark between its entries.

Although the IEEE citation style has specific rules, students who are familiar with the Chicago citation style will find it easy to use. Students should use the Chicago style referencing if something is not mentioned in the IEEE manual.

🎆 American Chemical Society (ACS)

This citation style is commonly used in Chemistry and Biology assignments. The year of publication and the name of the author are added in parentheses.

The superscript numbers have to be at the end of the line, as you quote. If you have any confusion regarding assignment writing or referencing, you can get expert assignment help online.

🏠 National Library of Medicine (NLM)

The NLM style can be used in medicine and pharmacology, although nursing students are those who use it the most. It uses a system of numerical in-text citations and academic referencing conventions. 

👨‍⚕️ American Medical Association (AMA)

It is one of the most popular citation styles among medical students. It uses the standard numerical in-text citation method, with the key distinction of superscript in parenthesis. The Oxford University Press publishes the manual of style for the understanding of the importance of accurate citation in academic writing.

📓 Vancouver Citation Style

Vancouver citation is used in scientific studies and healthcare publications. It is handled by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Students must follow source citation protocols when they write research paper. Use numerical in-text citations to refer to specific entries in your reference list.

Citation Styles for Social Sciences

If you major in Social Sciences, you will encounter at least three major citation styles: APA, AAA, and APSA. Learning about APA is essential because it is one of the most popular citation formats. Plus, using citation generators effectively is a good option for students.

📚 American Psychological Association (APA)

APA citation style is easy to understand, It is widely used in the social sciences disciplines. If you’re studying psychology or education, you’ll come across it at least once. In-text citations are formatted in parenthetical style. Students should follow in-text citation guidelines.

📋 American Anthropological Association (AAA)

The Chicago citation style is the main source of inspiration. It was done with the author-date system.

📗 American Political Science Association (APSA)

Although it is rare, students majoring in Political Science will see this style in their studies. The U.S. government offers it and has particular rules that must be followed.

🙆 Citation Styles for Humanities

Humanities citation styles will include the most well-known styles. These include MLA, Chicago, Turabian (based on Chicago), and Harvard.

🗣 Modern Language Association (MLA)

It is primarily used for introductory courses in literature, arts, language studies, sociology, and general college studies. MLA citations are parenthetical and can be recognized by the MLA header on the first page. It is much simpler than other citation styles, so we recommend using it initially!

🗯 Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS)

As one of the most ancient styles, it is primarily used for publishing, making it a newspaper style and the de facto standard. You can choose between two options:

  1. Chicago Note Citation Style;
  2. Chicago Parenthetical Citation Method.

🔔 Turabian Citation Style

Turabian refers to the simplified Chicago style, as published by the Chicago Manual of Style. It also employs a parenthetical style and notes. It is mostly used in the humanities and social sciences.

Harvard Citation Style

This style is commonly used in economics, business management, and statistical studies. The British Standard Institute or the Australian Government Publishing Services standard (also known as AGPS) may be used, even though there isn’t an official guide for the style.

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❓ When should you cite sources?

You must cite your sources when using information to support your thesis statement or argument. It is recommended that a research paper contain 2-3 sources per page (300 words). Other citation scenarios may include dealing with statistical data or providing a brief reference for a case study or research that either supports or contradicts your opinion.

This way, you can demonstrate that you are impartial and you have effective research strategies. The purpose is to maintain your paper’s content assurance while avoiding plagiarism as you demonstrate the research conducted.

Also, you will be easily crafting compelling arguments in your dissertation and supporting your argument with the help of bibliographic citation rules.

❗ Which citation style should I use?

When your college or university professor has already specified a citation style, you must take the time to determine which subject you are studying and which citation style is best suited. For example, if you are majoring in Data Science or Engineering, IEEE would be an appropriate choice. Similarly, when studying English Literature, MLA or APA would be a safe choice. When in doubt, speak with your professor or enter your subject into a search engine and enter “citation styles” to see recommendations.

In the next section, you will see how to avoiding plagiarism through proper citation practices!

❌ Avoiding plagiarism and get your papers delivered timely!

As you can see, figuring out logic using different citation styles is difficult, especially if you are using them for the first time. While learning APA vs MLA format styles will make things easier, it is essential to concentrate on all of the minor and major differences between other styles. If you are unsure how to cite something for a specific subject, feel free to consult one of the online experts or use a citation generator to be safe. They can help you avoid plagiarism and follow the highest standards of a specific style. Even if you are in a rush, they can help you in as little as 3 hours and will never miss a deadline!

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