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Citation Styles

Typically, the discipline in which you are working (history, sociology, English, biology, etc.) will determine which citation style to use in your papers. However, when writing a paper for class, make sure to check which style your instructor prefers. The following represent the most frequently used citation styles in the academic world (the accompanying links have been selected for their accuracy and ease of use), as well as some frequently asked questions:

AP For the journalism discipline
Purdue's OWL (Online Writing Lab)

APA For disciplines in the social sciences
Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation Online
Purdue's OWL (Online Writing Lab)

Bluebook For citing legal documents
Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (online ed. 2010) by Peter W. Martin (Cornell Law School)
Boston University's School of Law Bluebook Checklist

Chicago For the history and art history disciplines
The Chicago Manual of Style Online (DePaul users only)
Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation Online

*Turabian Using Chicago style as its basis, Turabian was designed especially for students.
University of Chicago's Citation Guide
Ohio State's Citation Guide

CSE (Formerly CBE) For disciplines in the sciences
Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation Online

MLA For disciplines in the humanities
Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation Online
Purdue's OWL (Online Writing Lab)

 

For additional citation style references, see Duke University's list of citation styles by academic discipline.

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DePaul University Writing Guidelines For DePaul University communications
"The purpose of these editorial guidelines is to help ensure consistent use of style, organization and terminology in all university communications. It is not intended as a complete guide of grammar, punctuation, capitalization or writing style."

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Frequently Asked Questions

When should I cite?
Which citation style should I use?
How do I cite a source within a paper?
Should I use a citation generator like Easybib, Citation Machine, or Stylease?
Do I have to keep citing the same author/page over and over?
What's the difference between Chicago and Turabian?
How do I create footnote/endnote references?
Do I use in-text citations or footnotes/endnotes?
What's the difference between a bibliography, references list, works cited page, works consulted page, and annotated bibliography?
How do I avoid plagiarism?
Where can I find more information?

When should I cite?

Anytime you quote, paraphrase, or summarize an author's words, you should credit the source with either an in-text citation or a footnote (depending on the citation style you're using). If you use an idea from an author, you must cite the author even if you have presented the idea in your own words.

Which citation style should I use?

Citation style will depend on two things: what a professor requires and what the discipline (e.g. history, biology, English, etc.) requires. Typically, you will use MLA for disciplines in the humanities, APA for disciplines in the social sciences, Chicago or Turabian for history, and CSE for the sciences.

How do I cite a source within a paper?

This is known as an "in-text citation" and differs from the entries in a Works Cited, References, or Bibliography page. The format for in-text citations is unique for each style and the type of entry. In MLA, for instance, the basic format will list the author followed by the page number, both in parentheses: (Smith 5). Remember, the goal of citation is to tell the reader what he or she needs to know in order to locate your source. Say enough about the source in-text so the reader can refer to specific Works Cited/References/Bibliography entries. Likewise, say enough in your Works Cited/References/Bibliography page so the reader can locate the same source in a database, library, etc.

Should I use a citation generator website or program?

Because of overall inaccuracy and inconsistency, we do not recommend using automatic citation websites or software. Citation styles depend on many subtleties and are often intuitive, a skill that citation technology cannot match. If you use a generator, always make sure to check the citation against a handbook like St. Martin's or reputable websites like Purdue's OWL and Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation Online.

Do I have to keep citing the same author/page over and over?

The short answer is no, so long as it is clear to the reader where you get your information. When the page number or the author and page number changes, you should cite those changes. In addition, make sure to place the citation immediately following the information, rather than waiting until the end of the paragraph. For example: Smith argues, "writing makes you think" (5). He continues, "if a writer writes often, he or she will improve" (6). Johnson adds, "writers should never stop writing" (37).

What's the difference between Chicago and Turabian?

Using Chicago style as a basis, Turabian was designed for non-professional writers (i.e. students). For more information on these differences, check out the entry for Turabian on Wikipedia.

How do I create footnote/endnote references?

Footnotes have a different format than entries in a Works Cited/References/Bibliography page. However, outside of a professional publication, you generally will not see footnotes in MLA in place of an in-text citation. Footnotes in MLA are usually informational or for clarification. See Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation page for more information. In contrast, Chicago Manual of Style stresses using footnotes or endnotes rather than in-text citations. For more information on how to format Chicago notes, visit Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation page.

Do I use in-text citations or footnotes/endnotes?

Generally, this is the writer's (your) preference. However, know your audience: does your professor prefer one over the other? Does the citation style expect you to use footnotes over in-text citations or endnotes rather than footnotes? For instance, professors who ask for Chicago style often expect footnotes. See Diana Hacker's Research and Documentation page for more information about references in Chicago style.

What's the difference between a bibliography, references list, works cited page, works consulted page, and annotated bibliography?

1) A bibliography, references list, and works cited page refer to the same thing: they each list the citations for pieces referenced within your paper. The name of the page and the format depend on the citation style and setting (i.e. professional publication or class assignment).

2) An annotated bibliography has a paragraph following each source that summarizes the author's main points. In addition, the paragraphs ought to explain the source's relevance to both the paper and the other entries in the bibliography.

3) A works consulted page (usually only necessary if your professor requests one) refers to works that you have read or reviewed but did not cite directly.

How do I avoid plagiarism?

You can avoid plagiarism by citing your sources appropriately whenever you quote, paraphrase, or use another's ideas. Use a style guide (MLA, APA, etc.) to make sure you are citing correctly. If you are not sure what constitutes plagiarism, check the Student Handbook, ask your professor, or schedule an appointment at the Writing Center.

Where can I find more information?

We have compiled a list of resources that includes links to guides, manuals, and associations.

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