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Citing sources: Citation Style Guides: Home

Introduction to Citation Styles

The intent of this guide is to help you understand and apply different citation styles when writing research papers. Here at CIA there are primarily two styles that are most frequently used by our faculty--MLA and Chicago. This guide will provide you with examples of citations using each of these styles. Always check with your professor if you are unsure of how to cite something!

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What is a citation, or a citation style, and why do I need this?

A citation is a reference to a source of information. The citation should include all the information needed to locate the source; title, author, publication date, etc. A citation is also a way of giving credit to the individual whose work you are referencing. Including citations for borrowed thoughts and ideas is imperative to avoid plagiarism.

A citation style refers to the formatting of the citation. The style dictates what information is included in the citation, how the information is ordered, and how punctuation is used.

Always check with your professor to see which citation style is required for the class. Always, always, be consistent!!!

Research papers

"The purpose of a research paper is to synthesize previous research and scholarship with your ideas on the subject. Therefore, you should feel free to use other persons' words, facts, and thoughts in your research paper, but the material you borrow must not be presented as if it were your own creation. When you write your research paper, remember that you must document everything that you borrow--not only direct quotations and paraphrases but also information and ideas."

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Seventh edition. MLA, 2009, p.55.


"Academic writing is at its root a conversation among scholars about a topic or question. Scholars write for their peers, communicating the results of their research through books, journal articles, and other forms of published work. In the course of a project, they seek out relevant publications, to learn from and build on earlier research. Through their own published work, they incorporate, modify, respond to, and refute previous publications."

MLA Handbook. Eighth edition. MLA, 2016, p.5.

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Stop by the library during our open hours to get help with your research questions, to schedule an individual appointment with a librarian, or to schedule a librarian visit for your class. Click here for our current hours.

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