Throughout this guide and in most statements, videos, tutorials, etc., you are told to "cite" your sources or to provide "citations." You may even be told to use a specific "style," such as MLA, APA, or Chicago. What exactly is meant by these terms?
To cite a source means to document it in sufficient detail that a reader will be able to find that source and specific quotation or idea within that source in order to find more information.
A citation is the specific information or documentation that should be provided to make it possible to find the information cited. Typical minimum citations for different types of materials include:
A citation style is the specific order in which you organize the portions of the citations shown above. There are three styles that are most common, but there may be other, discipline-specific styles you will be asked to use. Always check with your instructors to see if they require a specific style. If they do not, you may use the style you prefer, but it is important to use one style consistently throughout your paper.
The most common citation styles are:
You will find additional information about citation styles and style guides on the Citation/Style Guides research guide.