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Citation Style Guide

A introductory guide to citation styles and reference management tools.


Citations are a way to credit the author and work you utilized in your research. 

Citation styles are guides and templates for how to display and arrange your citations.

Reference management tools are software that help organize your sources and format citations for you.

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Instruction & Assessment Librarian


This guide is designed to introduce you to the four most commonly used citation styles and three free reference management tools.

Use the tabs on the left to navigate this page and locate specific citation styles. The reference management tab includes drop boxes for the different software. Use CTRL F to quickly search a style page for a specific citation example.

Writing & Multiliteracy Center

The WMC's peer writing consultants and multiliteracy specialists can assist students across all disciplines at any stage of writing/communicating… including expert citation help! For more information, check out the WMC’s Citation Resources and their interactive on-demand workshops.

We know that formatting citations can be stressful and frustrating and CI’s amazing Writing & Multiliteracy Center (WMC) is here to help! The WMC provides students and faculty with a range of free support services and programs that help them address 21st Century challenges of creatively thinking about, reading, and composing in written, oral, visual, and digital forms of communication. Click here to schedule an appointment.

Why Do We Cite?

Creating and formatting citations is time consuming, so why do we do it? Citations: 

  • Credit the researchers and works you consulted
  • Help you avoid plagiarism by correctly crediting quotes and paraphrasing
  • Help readers find the sources you utilized for their own research




Citations will look different depending upon which citation style is used. However, the content for citations is relatively similar and at a minimum you should always note these common elements of a source you'll be using in your research:

  • Author and/or Editor name(s)
  • Title(s) [article and journal, book chapter and book...]
  • Date of Publication
  • Publisher Information [name, location]
  • Page Numbers
  • Volume and Issue Numbers [articles]
  • Location [DOI, Database, URL...]

Video Introduction to Citations

Watch this video for a brief overview of citations and citation styles.

Video Credit: “Citation: A (Very) Brief Introduction” by North Carolina State University Libraries licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US.

Plagiarism Quick Guide

Terms to Know


Using other people’s words and ideas without clearly acknowledging the source of the information

Common Knowledge

Facts that can be found in numerous places and are likely to be widely known.

Example: John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States in 1960. This is generally known information- You do not need to document this fact


You must document facts that are not generally known, or ideas that interpret facts.

Example: Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever to have played the game. This idea is not a fact but an interpretation- You need to cite the source


Using someone’s words directly. When you use a quote, place the passage you are using in quotation marks, and document the source according to a standard documenting style.

Example: According to John Smith in The New York Times, “37% of all children under the age of 10 live below the poverty line”.

Strategies for Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Submit your own work
  • Put quotations around everything that comes directly from the text, especially when taking notes.
  • Paraphrase, but be sure that you are not simply rearranging or replacing a few words
  • Keep a source journal, notepad, note cards- annotated bibliographies can be especially beneficial
  • Use the style manual assigned for the class
  • Get help from the writing center or library