Skip to main content

Citing Sources

Citation Styles

The moment you are asked to cite, take a look at your assignment to see if a specific citation style is indicated. This information must be known before you can properly cite your work. As with any citation system, using it correctly protects you from accusations of plagiarism. Three common citation styles are below. Click on the tabs on the right to learn about three common citation styles: MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style.

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is widely used in the humanities, especially in writing on language and literature. It provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages. If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition), which can be found in the UCLA Library catalog:

APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) covers a variety of topics from manuscript preparation and publication to grammar, usage, and documentation.

There are two main styles:

  • The Notes-Bibliography System (NB), which is used by those in literature, history, and the arts.
    • The Chicago NB system is most often used in history and is often used in the humanities and provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through footnote or endnote citation in their writing and through bibliography pages.
    • As with any citation stystem using it correctly protects the writer from accusations of plagiarism. As mentioned earlier in this guide proper citation builds credibility to the paper by demonstrating accountability to source material.
    • Sample Paper in Notes-Bibliography (from Purdue OWL)
  • The Author-Date System, which is preferred in the sciences.
    • In the Author-Date System each citation consists of two parts: the text citations, which provides brief identifying information within the text, and the reference list (list of sources used) which provides full bibliographic information.
    • Descriptions for Style Guides (APA). Russell, T., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderland, L., & Brizee, A. (2010, August 1, 2010). General format. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/
    • Sample Paper in Author-Date (from Purdue OWL)
  • If you are asked to use the CMS, be sure to consult the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, which can be found online or in print via the UCLA Library catalog. The online resource provides a quick guide for both the notes-bibliography system and the author-date system.
Loading

Citation Handouts

The Writing Center at UCLA provides handouts on how to cite in APA, MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, and other citation formats. Guidelines for other citation formats can be found online. If you need help, please do not hesitate to ask. 

Citation Guides

The OWL at Purdue has a series of guides for formatting and citing papers using style guides. While handouts are helpful for common forms of documentation, you may need to consult other sources in special cases.

Search "sample papers" in OWL to find written and correctly cited papers in MLA, APA, and CMS for your reference. OWL also defines, formats, and explains the significance of Annotated Bibliographies.  

Citation Managers

Organize all your research in one place and quickly generate your bibliography. Not sure which to choose?  Take a look at the Citation Managers guide to help you decide.  

Citation Generators

Use a citation machine to quickly cite a source you are using.