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Citation Styles

At various points in your academic career, you will be asked to cite your sources or references, most likely according to the conventions or house style used by your educational institution.  The three most common citation styles are Chicago, APA (The American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association).  At 24HourAnswers, we recognize the importance of presenting essays well and using the correct citation style in assignments.  We have a team of experienced writing tutors ready to help with the writing of your assignment or to assist you with the correct citation style.  Let's take a closer look at the three main styles mentioned above.


Chicago style is one of the most well-known citation and documentation styles used at colleges and universities. It is used particularly in the history field, and is sometimes used in other fields, such as library and information science, depending on the class and the preferences of the professor or instructor. Anyone who is a history student, history professor, or a historian will have used Chicago at some point to cite sources in his or her work. It is important to learn it if you want to succeed in the fields that use it.

Chicago style comes in two forms, one that uses footnotes and one that does not. The first form is known as the notes and bibliography system, and is the most familiar form of Chicago style to the general public. The second form is the author-date system, and is less familiar to the average person. You may use either or both systems depending on which one of them your professor, or instructor wants you to use to cite and document your sources. 

The notes and bibliography system of Chicago uses footnotes instead of in-text citations to cite and document sources quoted within the text of your essays. Footnotes help readers track down the sources you used in your work for further reference or for use in their own research, and may also include additional commentary if needed within your essay to further explain a concept, idea, theory, or to add to the discussion of a subject if additional views are needed, but are not part of the main discussion. For example, if you are using Chicago style in a paper on the most important battles of the Civil War, and need to further explain how they influenced its outcome, footnotes will help you do so. They can also be used to point to further sources, such as if you used a source within a source to back up your views on your subject. Readers can then track down and read those sources for themselves to see what they have to say on it. These are some of the ways that footnotes are helpful in your work, and why they are used in Chicago style.

When creating a footnote, the basic format looks like this:

  1. Author, Your, 100 Books You Must Read In Your Lifetime (Your City, Your State: Your Books Publishing, 2010), 67-68.

It can also look like this:

  1. Author, 100 Books, 67.

The format of footnotes will vary by the types of media they are citing, and by how much information you gathered on your sources before you started citing and documenting them; but the footnote shown above is the basic format for one in Chicago style.

The author-date system does not use footnotes, but uses in-text citations instead, as MLA and APA do. Unlike footnotes, in-text citations just cite and document a source as it is quoted in your essay. If you need to add additional commentary using the author-date system, you do not use footnotes for it; instead, you include it within the text of your paper. The same is true for MLA and APA style. This helps make your commentary more a part of the essay, and less easily forgotten, a risk of using footnotes. That way, readers will remember what you said easily, and will be more inclined to look it up for themselves to see what your sources said on your subject. This helps to contribute to the body of research on it.

The basic format for an in-text citation in the author-date system looks like this:

(Author 2010, 67-68)

As with footnotes, the format for in-text citations will vary by the kinds of media they are citing, and by the amount of information you gathered on your sources before you cited and documented them.

For bibliographic citations, the notes and bibliography and author-date systems use slightly different formats to arrange the information within them.

The basic format for a bibliographic citation under the notes and bibliography system is arranged this way:

Author, Your. 100 Books You Must Read In Your Lifetime. Your City, Your State: Your Books            

     Publishing, 2010.

For the author-date system, the bibliographic citation's basic format is slightly different:

Author, Your. 2010. 100 Books You Must Read In Your Lifetime. Your City, Your State: Your

     Books Publishing.

The formats for bibliographic citations will vary by the types of media they cite, how much information about your sources you collected during your research, and by the system under which they are formatted.

When you get ready to create your bibliography at the end of your essay, use the last page for this purpose. After you have put the title of your bibliography on the page, place the bibliographic citations under it in a list to show the sources you have used in your paper. List them in alphabetical order. Make sure you include all of the sources you have used to avoid plagiarism and to properly credit the authors for creating the ideas you used in your assignments.

There are many resources that can help you to learn to cite and document in Chicago style. The first is The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. It is a very comprehensive guide to Chicago style, and is the first resource you should turn to when learning to use it. It can be found at your college or university bookstore, any physical or online bookstore, your college or university library, and at the local public library.  

We care deeply about helping students gain the best marks in their assignments, and we have worked hard to earn our hundreds of ratings on Trust Pilot and Google, a testament to our commitment toward helping students. If your course or project requires you to use a specific citation style, we at 24HourAnswers are here to help meet your needs.

There are also online resources that will teach you to use Chicago style. The Purdue OWL's Chicago style section  will show you the basics of Chicago, and features different types of citations created in it to help you learn to use it properly. The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Writing Center's Chicago/Turabian Documentation Style page  features a guide to using the notes and bibliography system of Chicago style. If you are using it in your assignments, you will find this resource helpful. Finally, Williams College Libraries' Chicago Manual of Style Author-Date system page features a guide to the author-date system of Chicago style. If you are using the author-date system of Chicago, you will enjoy this resource. 

Chicago style is a very important citation and documentation style to master if you want to excel in the disciplines that use it. Using it helps build good scholarship in those fields, and once you learn it, you will know another way to cite and document your sources, and thus add to research using it. Learning good citation and documentation skills early in your education will prevent problems later on, both in college and in your professional life.


The American Psychological Association (APA) style is widely used in colleges and universities throughout the United States and around the world. If you are a psychology or library and information science student, or your major is in any of the social sciences, you will come across APA at some point, such as if you are writing an assignment for which you are using outside sources. If you are a graduate student in any of the disciplines listed above, you will use APA style when you are writing essays, theses or dissertations. Regardless of the reasons, it is essential to learn to use APA style to succeed in the fields that use it.

APA style is used to cite and document outside sources you use in your work. It covers many different types of media, but the basic types of in-text citation look like this:

Author (2000) says "What is your name?" (200)


"What is your name?" (Author, 2000, 200)

You will be using in-text citations within your essays to quote the outside sources you are using. You use them to cite each quote from your outside sources as you use them in your papers.

Your bibliography of sources used goes on your last page. The basic type of bibliographic citation in APA style is formatted like this:

Author, Y. (2000). How to write a book. Your City, Your State: Your Own Publishing.

This is not the only type of bibliographic citation in APA; bibliographic citations in APA vary by media, format, and the amount of information gathered on your sources as you collected them.

In your list of references, you will list your bibliographic citations by alphabetical order, and you will list all of the sources that you used in your essay. This is to ensure that you credit all of the authors of your sources, and that you do not commit plagiarism. It is very important to credit all of your sources because plagiarism is a very serious offense, and violates academic integrity. The penalties for it are severe, and range from getting an F for the assignment you plagiarized to being expelled from school. Therefore, always credit the sources you use in your assignments through citing and documenting them using the citation and documentation style used by your discipline.

As you learn to cite and document in APA style, there are many resources you can use that will help you learn it. One of the most important resources that will teach you to use APA style is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition. It is the ultimate guide to APA style, and also to using APA format to format your papers. You can buy it at your college or university's bookstore, any bookstore offline and online, and it may also be available at your college or university's library or even at the public library in your area. 

You can also find resources online that will teach you APA style. The Purdue OWL APA Style section  features a comprehensive guide to APA style and format that you will find very helpful. It offers examples of different citation formats by media that you can consult when creating your own citations in APA. It also describes how to format your paper in APA format, including how to format the title page of your paper. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's The Center for Writing Studies' APA page features a guide to formatting citations, including in-text citations, in APA style. Northern Michigan University's Lydia M. Olson Library's APA Reference Style Guide will show you how to create APA citations in many different formats, including course materials and other personal communications such as emails.

Finally, you can visit your college or university's Writing Center or our tutors at to get help with learning to use APA style in your work.


Modern Language Association, or MLA, style, is one of the most well-known citation and documentation styles in higher education. Any college student in English or most of the humanities will have or will come across MLA at least once in their college careers. He or she will also use it at some point in graduate work, whether it is for an essay, a thesis or a dissertation. All of these facts make it imperative to learn to use it to cite and document outside sources in one's essays.

To use MLA style, a person must know what he or she needs to cite and what he or she doesn't need to. Sources that need to be cited and documented are:

  1. Any type of outside source (book, journal, newspaper, or magazine article, thesis, dissertation, etc.). This includes online sources, such as podcasts and emails
  2. Knowledge that is not common knowledge (i.e. not known by everyone)

Sources that do not need credited in your work are:

  1. Your original ideas
  2. Common knowledge (i.e. known by everyone)

The next step is to keep track of your sources as you gather them so that you will have the information needed to cite and document them as you use them in your work. One way to do this is to write the information for each source down on index cards. Another way is to use programs such as EndNote or Zotero to collect information about your sources. They can be installed on your browser and computer, and will help you collect and store information on them so that you will have it when you are working on your essays. These practices will help you cite and document your sources, and are one of the first steps in avoiding plagiarism in your work.

As you collect information on your sources, record for each source the author(s), title, publication information (date and place of publication, and publisher), journal title (if you are using journal articles as outside sources), article databases you used as a source (if it is a journal article, ebook, newspaper or magazine article, or anything else you got from an article or other type of database), book chapter title (if you are using a book chapter written by the author or someone else as a source), editor(s), anyone else involved in the creation of a source (this will vary by the type of source it is), the number(s) of the pages or paragraphs you are quoting from, and whether a source is in print or from the Web. This last part is especially important in MLA, because it helps determine from where a source came for citation and documentation purposes.

Once you have gathered your sources and information on them, you will need to cite and document them in your essay. The format of a citation will vary depending on what type of source you use, but the basic format for an MLA citation looks like this:

Author, Your. How To Write A College Essay. Your City, Your State: My Own Books Publishing, 2016. Print.

This example is of a bibliographic citation. An in-text citation in MLA looks like this:

Your Author says, "How are you?" (100)

or like this:

(Author 100)

In in-text citations, use the author's last name and the page or paragraph number from which you are quoting. Unlike Chicago, MLA does not require footnotes.

When you are done with writing your essay, you will be ready to work on your Works Cited page. The Works Cited page lists all of the outside sources you used as you wrote your paper. Because it is a bibliography, you will be creating bibliographic citations for it, whereas in-text citations are used throughout your essay as you quote from each outside source you use. This prevents plagiarism, and properly credits the author(s) of your outside sources for originating the ideas you used in your work. The Works Cited page also helps readers track down your sources for further reference if they read your paper, see the references in it, and want to read them for themselves or use them in their own research. This helps contribute to the body of research on a subject, and, along with citing and documenting your sources, are marks of good scholarship.

Your bibliography or works cited page is always the last page of your essay. Remember to include your name and the page number and centralise your title "Works Cited".  Your bibliographic citations follow (left justified) as a numbered list. Be sure to include all of the sources you used in your paper.

There are many resources available to help you.The first is the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. It is the ultimate guide to MLA style, and will help you cite and document in it for many different types of media. You can find it at your local college or university bookstore, any bookstore brick-and-mortar or online, and your college or university library or even your local public library may have a copy. It is highly recommended. You can also find guides to MLA style online; the Purdue OWL features a section on MLA style that you will find helpful. The University of Maryland University Libraries MLA Style Guide features a guide on how to use it that features the most common citations created for college assignments. Finally, visit your college or university's Writing Center or our tutors at for help with citing and documenting in MLA style. We are available 24/7 to help you get your MLA citations right.

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