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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Citation Styles

A library guide on citation styles and managers..

Choosing a citation style

The citation styles you use in your academic work will vary, most often dependent on the discipline of the individual course.

A style guide is a set of standards for the writing and design of documents. There are many different kinds of style guides but three of the most used are the American Psychological Association (APA), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the Chicago Manual of Style.

You should always check the requirements for your assignment or with your instructor before using a style guide.

Why should you cite?

Common Questions about Citation Styles

1. What does it mean to "cite my sources"?

A citation is a reference to a published source; in your paper, you are acknowledging that you found this information published somewhere, by someone.

2. Why do I have to cite my sources?

Not citing your sources could mean you are guilty of plagiariam. When you find information in another source, whether it is a newspaper, magazine, academic journal, or even online, like in a blog, someone else has published it, which means that person "owns" the information and the ideas. Not giving that person credit when you borrow their ideas or words is called plagiarism and is a very serious issue.

3. Why type of citation style should I use?

The type of citation style that is best for your assignment depends on several factors, including which discipline your course is in and also your instructor's preferences.