The Ultimate Guide to Citation Style

Style guides assist the writer in making referential citations in written works for the sciences and humanities.

  • MLA style: Humanities

  • APA/ASA styles: Social Sciences

  • ACS/CBE styles: Sciences

There are many general style guides such as the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook, the Manual of Style for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, as well as localized style guides for businesses and universities.

AP Citation Style

The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual is not specifically a citation style manual, but more a usage guide for the print communications industry. It was first published in 1977 to provide a consistent standard of grammar, spelling, and usage rules for newspapers. Having such a standard reduces bias and enhances product quality. Today, nearly all U.S. newspapers, magazines, and most public relations firms use the style guide to maintain concise readability.

AP Stylebook Online: Great site to customize those guidelines you use most often in the "My Stylebook" section. An iPhone application is available as well as an "Ask the Editor" section.

Media Writing Tips: Excerpted from the AP stylebook.

APA Citation Style

The American Psychological Association citation style manual was developed for use in the sciences to assist reading comprehension. It provides a specific overall format for research papers, reference pages, and in-text source citations. There are four main sections for APA style: the title page, an abstract, the body of the research, and the citations or reference page.

APA Basics Tutorial: There are 26 slides in both outline and thumbnail form to take you through the basics.

APA Style Resources on the Web: From general guides to specific citation styles, including shortcuts.

ASA Citation Style

Very similar to the APA style, the ASA style is specifically geared to sociological papers to be submitted for publication in the American Sociological Association journals.

ASA Checklist: Checklist is in .pdf format.

ASA Style: Purdue University's Online Writing Lab covers the basics of the ASA guide.

AMA Citation Style

Published by Oxford University Press in conjunction with the JAMA and Archives Journals, the AMA Manual of Style Online and print edition aids medical and scientific writers.

AMA Online Style Guide: Searchable by section, with SI conversion tables.

Color-Coded AMA Quick Guide: Lists basic references by color for ease of crafting the citation.

MLA Citation Style

The Modern Language Association developed their style to incorporate parenthetical notations. These notations were found within the body of the document and noted in an alphabetized directory at the end of the book. MLA rules do not generally call for footnote or endnote citations.

MLA Style Guide: Resources and publications, including the style guide. For members only.

Citing Sources MLA Style: General overview from Indiana University.

APSA Citation Style

This lesser-known style, developed by the American Political Science Association, covers citing of resources, grammatical standards and requirements for political science manuscript presentation.

APSA Style Manual: Lamar University's abridged version of the APSA style guide. Good overview.

Reference Sheet: The APSA reference and citation format fact sheet from the University of West Florida.

Chicago Citation Style

When employing the Chicago Manual of Style, or Chicago Style of citing resources footnote and endnote citations are encouraged over the in-text style of citing. Bibliographies aren't prohibited in Chicago style, but they aren't preferred either.

Quick Guide: To the basic two systems of the Chicago Manual of Style: humanities and author-date systems.

Tutorial: Easy-to-use, color-coded tutorial.

English Guide: For those who are not native speakers and need a little extra help with citation guides.

Turabian Citation Style

Turabian style was based on the Chicago style, the difference being a focus on educational environments. Like Chicago style, Turabian style encourages the use of footnote and endnote citations over in-text citations.

Turabian Style Guide Basics: From Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers.

Quick Guide: For the two Turabian documentation systems: bibliography and parenthetical.

Bluebook Citation Style

The Bluebook Style handles the citing of general legal materials and the legal materials for court systems. It's one of the most widely used styles even though many have never heard of it. 

The Bluebook: Order the unique, systematic print or online style guide here.

Basic Legal Citation: Index to the introduction of Basic Legal Citation by Cornell's Peter W. Martin.