Four Different Styles of Citing a Research Paper


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Citation is a way of giving credit to individuals for their creative and intellectual works that you utilized to support your research. It is also a quotation or reference to a book, paper, or author in an academic work.

Citation is also used to prevent plagiarism. A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, punctuation, and formatting. There are different styles to format the information. Below are the different citation styles:

  1. APA (American Psychological Association) is used by education, psychology, and sciences.
  2. MLA (Modern Language Association) is used by the humanities.
  3. Chicago style is used by business, history, and in fine arts.
  4. Turban citation style is generally used in business, history, and in fine arts.

1. APA Format

The American Psychological Association style is the most commonly used style to cite sources within the social sciences. As with other editorial styles, it consists of rules or guidelines that a publisher observers to ensure clear consistent presentation of written material. It is concerned with the consistent use of elements like headings, tone, length, punctuation, abbreviations, presentation, statistics, construction of tables, and figures.

In-text Citation with APA

The APA style stress on three kinds of information to be included in in-text citations. The author(s) last name or the first few words of the reference list entry if the author is not known, the year of publication or date of publication if the year is not known, and these items must match exactly the corresponding entry in the references list. The page number appears only in a direct quotation.


Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials: D. Jones. Italicize the titles of a longer word such as books, edited collections, movies, television series, documentaries, or albums.


The Closing of the American Mind; The Wizard of OZ; Friends. Put quotation marks around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles from edited collections, television series episodes, and song titles.


Example of an APA reference;

Baxter, C. (1997). Race equality in health care and education, Philadelphia: Balliere Tindall.


2. MLA Style

MLA (Modern Language Association) style for documentation is widely used in the humanities, especially in writing on language and literature. MLA style features brief intermediate citations in the text keyed on an alphabetical list of work cited that appears at the end of the work. The MLA core elements are assembled in a specific order.


The concept of containers is crucial to MLA style. When the source is documented forms part of a larger whole, the larger whole can be thought of as a container that holds the source. Example a sort story may be contained in an album. The short story is the source, and the album is the container.


The Modern Language Association, work is published in a unique format, the MLA recommends one universal set of guidelines, which writers can apply to any type of source. The first part of the citation directs readers to a specific item in the works cited a list, and the second part tells readers where in that source to find the material that has been utilized.

3. Simple Citations  

Since the author’s last name is usually the first thing listed in a bibliographic entry, you usually begin your works cited list. Texts you cite will include a page number, so you indicate the page or pages on which the material you have a quote, paraphrased, or summarized appears. If you are referencing the same source more than ones in the same sentence or within a paragraph, you leave out the author’s name after the first citation. Example of MLA citation;

By one author: Sword, Helen. Stylish Academic writing. Harvard UP, 2012.

By more than one author: May, Steven W., and Arthur F. Marotti. Ink, Stink Bait, Revenge, and Queen Elizabeth: A Yorkshire Yeaoman’s Household  Books. Cornell UP, 2014.

4. Chicago/Turabian Style

This citation style incorporates rules of grammar and punctuation common in American English. It presents two basic documentation systems: notes and bibliography, and the nature of the sources cited, as each system is favored by different groups of scholars.

Example of notes and bibliographic style: Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (New York: Penguin, 2006), 99-100.

The author-date style example: Pollan, Michael. 2006. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York; penguin.


In conclusion, citation styles are used to give credit to individuals for their creativity and intellectual efforts that you utilized in your research work. It is usually used to combat plagiarism. There different styles used for referencing, example APA, MLA, Chicago, and Turabian which are used in a different source like books, magazines, journals, and articles.

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