Citation Styles

There are thousands of citation styles out there.  Why so many? Different organizations, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Modern Language Association (MLA), have created styles that they feel best meet the needs of researchers working in those fields. You don’t need to worry about memorizing particular styles; your instructors will let you know what you are expected to use and there are lots of resources to help you with citing sources.

The three most commonly used styles in American schools are APA, MLA, and Chicago.

APA (American Psychological Association):

This style was created in 1929 and is now on its 7th edition, which was released in 2019. This style is most commonly used by scholars in the fields of social sciences, education, and some health sciences.

MLA (Modern Language Association):

This style was created in 1931 and was originally called the “Style Sheet of the PMLA.” It is currently on its 8th edition. This style is most commonly used by scholars in the fields of languages, literatures, and some other humanities fields.


Chicago style was created in the late 19th century and is currently on its 17th edition. There are two versions: notes-bibliography and author-date. If you are asked to use Chicago style, be sure you ask your teacher which version they’d like you to use. Chicago style citation is commonly used in the humanities.

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