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Why are citations important?

Academic papers are conversations between multiple authors; we agree with, refute, and challenge the ideas of other scholars. Responsible scholarship dictates that we properly credit scholars with their work when it is mentioned - enter citations.

Citations are for transparency and access. In addition to proving that you've done your due diligence as an academic, citations let readers know what you've read and where they can access a source you've used.

How do I cite my sources?

What your citation looks like depends on the style manual that your academic discipline follows. If you don't know where to start (and if your instructor hasn't specified a style guide to follow), the table below gives a basic overview of common citation styles. For more information and specific resources for each style guide, please consult the tabs at the top of this page.



Notes and Bibliography system

Author-Date system

generally used in Humanities disciplines (including English, Languages, Linguistics, Music, and Philosophy) generally used in Education, Behavioral Sciences, and Social Sciences used in some Humanities disciplines (including History, Literature, and the Arts) used in the Sciences and some Social Sciences disciplines
Humanities research emphasizes authorship; similarly, in MLA style citations, the author is the most important data point APA style supports disciplines that emphasizes the date of publication. In APA, the data directly follows the author's name The notes and bibliography system can accommodate a variety of source types that are more difficult to format in the author-name system The author-date system looks and functions very similarly to APA
MLA uses parenthetical in-text citations. Sources are compiled on a "Works Cited" page APA uses parenthetical in-text citations. Sources are compiled on a "References" page The notes and bibliography system uses footnotes for in-text citations. Sources are compiled on a "Bibliography" page The author-date system utilizes parenthetical in-text citations. Sources are compiled on a "References" or "Literature Cited" page

*Adapted from a similar table on the University of Washington's Citation Styles & Tools Research Guide.