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        Citing References: APA, MLA, and Chicago

        • calenderDec 09, 2020
        • calender 5 min read

        Writing your thesis/dissertation was a pain and even if it’s over, the hard part still remains; citing your references! Before you mull over this with a despondent attitude, know that at PaperTrue, we understand your dread. This is why we’ve written down a small guide to the three most widely used citation styles so that you can navigate them with ease.

        What is a citation and citation style?

        citation is a way of giving credit to individuals for their creative and intellectual works that you referenced or used to support your academic research. It is also used to locate sources and help your guides/reviewers determine whether there is any plagiarism.

        citation style sets the guidelines for how a citation should be ordered, which includes punctuation and formatting.

        APA (American Psychological Association)

        The APA citation style is usually used by the Humanities, Psychology, and the Science disciplines.

        1) Single Author’s work

        When citing a single author’s work, type the author’s last name first, followed by the journal’s/book’s publication year.

         2) Multiple Authors’ work

        When a work has two authors to its credit, use both of their last names each time their work needs a citation. Join the names with an ampersand if in parentheses or with the word “and” if in text:  

         3) A work with more than five authors

        When you cite such a work for the first time, type the name of all authors. In subsequent citations, only mention one of the author’s name, followed by the Latin word et al. to denote rest of the authors mentioned before.

        4) Multiple authors with the same last name.

        When citing different authors with the same last name, type their first name and middle initial so the readers can differentiate between them.

        5) Works by corporations

        Even if the author’s name is mentioned in such publications, you only have to cite the corporation as the author. When citing for the first time, type it in full. For later mentions you can type the abbreviation.

         6) Citing a website

        If you have to cite a source from a website, the basic format is as follows:

        Author surname, initial(s). (Year). Title. Retrieved from URL

        You can check out the examples of different sources cited in the APA format here.

        Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):

        The Chicago Manual of Style is a standard style devised by the University of Chicago Press. It is mostly used in Business, History, and Fine Arts disciplines. It has two systems of documenting sources within texts:

        1. Notes and bibliography: This style is primarily used in the fields of literature, history and the arts. Instead of most other systems that usually have the source listed within the text itself – so that you can see the source credentials while you’re reading the paper, rather than having to refer the bibliography section each time you want to verify a source – this method uses footnotes and endnotes on every page. Whenever you directly quote, paraphrase or reference an external source, it should be marked with a number that will appear in raised font which must correspond with a note at the bottom of the page. The sources of each page are usually quite brief, only containing the name of the text, and page numbers. A more extensive version is found in the bibliography.
        2. Author-date: This method of citing texts is more common in the social sciences and sciences. In text means that sources are cited briefly within the text (author, date within parentheses) must correspond to a source in the reference list. The reader must be able to cross check sources, where source’s full details must be given.

        As mentioned earlier, the reference or bibliography section is where you list out all your sources in order of their appearance in your paper. According to the Chicago Style, your references must ideally have the following information about your sources: its title, the author or authors’ names (also applicable to editors, compilers and translators) and publication details. The author’s name is listed with the surname first (eg: Hawking, Stephen) and the title of the text is italicized. 

        Modern Language Association (MLA):

        The MLA standard citation guide is popular within literature and language studies. The 8th edition of MLA, published in 2016, is the most recent version of this format. 

        It follows the author-date system for its in-text citations – the last name of the author, followed by the page number of the text you are referencing; both  in parentheses. If the name of the author is already there in the body of your text, only page numbers are mentioned in parentheses. 

        As for references, it follows the following general format, subject to modifications as per source: Author, Title of source, Container (once again, in italics), version/number, Publisher, Publication Date, Location. 


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        Rishi Linkedin

        Rishi was a zealous student at IIT Bombay when he realized, firsthand, the power of good language in effective communication. As part of this belief, after a brief stint in a hedge fund, he co-founded PaperTrue in 2014.

        One comment on “Citing References: APA, MLA, and Chicago

        1. zortilonrel says:

          Great blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Appreciate it!

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