Citation Styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian - Custom Scholars

Citation Styles: APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian

Citation styles are an essential aspect of academic life. Students could not format and style their papers appropriately and consistently without them. There are several citation formats that students can use to construct their papers and references.

While certain citation styles are more prevalent and widely used than others, they are all utilized by distinct and specialized audiences.

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In this article, we will explain why understanding about these citation styles is crucial as a student, as well as how they assist students in formatting their papers appropriately and in the proper structure and design.

Students sometimes become puzzled about how to identify between them because many of them have the same format and style.

What Is a Citation Style?

A citation style is a collection of rules and principles that govern how a student should reference and refer to sources in his work. Using current research and crediting the work of other academics is a widespread practice among students and researchers. When utilizing quotes, ideas, and phrases from other works, a citation and reference are required.

Without it, the work might be considered plagiarized, which is a significant academic infraction. Plagiarism might get you in big trouble since your teacher or research supervisor may reject your work. As a result, referencing everything is critical, and aside from preventing plagiarism, it also aids in verifying and substantiating your study claims and conclusions.

How Many Citation Styles are There?

It would be tough to establish the many forms of citation styles depending on the themes and disciplines of study. There are several references, but the three most frequent citation formats are APA, MLA, and Chicago. There are, however, a variety of distinct citation styles by discipline and research paper citation styles used by students studying in other disciplines.

How to Find the Right Citation Style for your Paper?

Don’t know which citation style to use for your paper? Many students encounter the same quandary while attempting to select the appropriate paper and citation style. In many circumstances, your instructor may explain the citation format that you must use in your paper, but in others, your teacher may expect you to know which style to apply and execute in your work.

Don’t worry, obtaining the proper citation format and style is also not difficult. We have included various academic reference styles and the disciplines in which they are often used below.

  • American Psychological Association (APA): Commonly used in social sciences, engineering, psychology, social work, education, etc.
  • Modern Language Association (MLA): This citation style is used in the subjects of humanities including literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion, etc.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style: The style is also known as Turabian style and it is more common in the studies and subject of History.
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): The format style is used by the students and researchers of the engineering and electrical field.
  • American Sociological Association (ASA): The style is commonly used by the students and professionals of Sociology.
  • Harvard Citation: Though it is not an official formatting style, Harvard is commonly used by the students of economics and use it to format their works.
  • Oxford Citation: Mainly, the citation style is used by the students of law but other students can also use it. It follows the documentary-note style references.
  • American Medical Association (AMA): The referencing style is used by the students and researchers of medicine. It is used for medical publications.
  • American Chemical Society (ACS): Usually used by the students and researchers of chemistry and chemical society. The citation style is specially designed for chemistry students.
  • National Library of Medicine (NLM): The style is quite flexible in the way that it offers three ways of presenting in-text citations. The style is common in the medical field.
  • American Anthropological Association (AAA): The style follows the Chicago style manual. The style is used by the students and researchers of the anthropology subject.
  • American Political Science Association (APSA): The style is commonly used by the field of political sciences. It follows the Chicago Manual of Style.

All of these referencing styles were created by various associations and are used by a variety of subjects and learners. Many of them have little distinctions, making it difficult to recall and distinguish them. However, certain formatting and citation styles are distinct from others and have been established specifically for particular areas.

When deciding on a citation style for your paper, keep the objective of writing or creating the work in mind. For example, if you are writing a submission for a journal, the citation style you use is determined by the journal’s criteria and requirements. Similarly, if you are a student working on a paper, the most prevalent citation styles will be APA, MLA, and Chicago.

What are the Differences Between Different Citation Styles?


All reference and citation formats may differ in one or more ways. What distinguishes these styles from one another? These styles each have their own set of rules and criteria for formatting the paper, references, in-citations, appendices, and list entries. As previously said, the changes are modest, and you must exercise caution while introducing a citation style.

Aside from several citation styles, there are also many in-text citation styles. We’ve broken them down for you below in simple terms:

  • Parenthetical In-Text Citation: In this kind of in-text citation, the in-text citation is added to the content and is placed in the brackets. The in-text citations include the last name of the author, the year of publication, along with the page number, if the in-text is used from a book or journal.
  • Note In-Text Citation: In note in-text citation, the in-text source is added and placed in the footnote or endnote, especially in the endnote citation styles. To study the source, the reader refers to the type of source in those endnotes and footnotes.
  • Numeric In-Text Citation: To apply this kind of in-text, all the sources are numbered in the reference list and these numbers are used when citing within the content.

The in-text citation and list of references change for each citation style, and we recommend that you understand the corresponding citation style thoroughly before dealing with it.


There are several factors that distinguish these citations from one another. These distinctions have been thoroughly examined in the sections that follow.

American Psychological Association (APA)

One of the most often used citation formats is APA. It is utilized by both scholars and students. The style is simple to use, which is why students prefer it over Chicago and other referencing styles. This citation format is commonly used in engineering and business since it is more precise and to the point.

The following are some important APA citation guidelines:

  • The title page will have the name of the student, the title of the essay or assignment, and the deadline of the paper
  • Each page will have a header having a short essay title
  • The in-text will contain the last name of the author followed by the date of publication, (Williams, 2014)
  • The complete reference will include the last name of the author, the initials of the first name, the date of publication, the title of the work, and the source

Modern Language Association (MLA)


MLA reference style differs from APA and is often utilized by persons involved in humanities subjects such as art, literature, linguistics, religion, and others. This citation style lets students and authors incorporate extensive and well-researched references into the body of an essay or paper. The MLA citation style is the second most used after APA.


The following are the main MLA citation style guidelines:

  • The MLA style paper does not have a separate title page and the name of the student, the name of the teacher, and the deadline of the paper
  • A running head with the name of the student and page number is added on each page
  • The in-text citation contains the last name of the author and the page number or paragraph number from where the quote has been used, (Arthur 22)
  • The references are regarded as ‘Works Cited’ and it is arranged alphabetically
  • The reference, or the citation, is structured with the last name first structure, followed by the page number and the publisher

The Chicago Manual of Style

The Chicago style is most commonly employed in history. Both the Chicago and Turabian citation styles are managed by the Chicago Manual of Style. Researchers and academic journal writers utilize the Chicago style, whereas students use the Turabian style.

The following are some major components of the Chicago and Turabian citation styles:

  • Both styles offer two kinds of adding in-text references in the paper’s body
  • The student can either add the in-text as a footnote or in the parenthesis, in front of the quoted idea, phrase, or direct quote
  • When adding a footnote, a superscripted number is added before the line where the quote is added
  • Following the superscripted number, the footnote is added in the footer of the same page
  • If adding the in-text in the parenthesis, the student will add the last name of the author, year of publication, and the page number from where the quote or idea has been taken.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

The IEEE citation is a particular style of citation designed for usage in engineering and other technical professions. Because it is used by students and researchers in technical disciplines, it has little content and relies heavily on figures, numerical values, and explanations.

When citing in IEEE style, keep the following in mind:

  • The list of references is arranged in numerical format
  • There is no need to add the name of the author and the date of publication, instead, add the number of the reference in the bracket in front of the phrase or the quote
  • When preparing the reference, add the initials of the first name and the last name followed by the year of publication, the main title of the paper, and the weblink from where you got it

American Sociological Association (ASA)

In the discipline of sociology, the ASA citation style is more widely employed. The style is comparable to working with APA in that the title page and other aspects are quite similar. However, there are several distinctions that set it apart from other referencing methods.

Some of the things to keep in mind when dealing with the ASA style are as follows:

  • The title page will include the full name of the student, the name of the institute, and the complete address of the student
  • When creating the in-text citation, add the last name of the author and the year of publication
  • When creating the reference, add the last name of the author first and the first name last, followed by the year of publication
  • The list of works cited and used in the paper are listed in the ‘References’

Harvard Citation

Harvard citation style is an unofficial citation format that is often used by economics and humanities students. The style is similar to APA style, which may confuse students when working on it. However, there are some tiny differences and characteristics that set them apart.

Here are some simple criteria for Harvard citation:

  • The title page will include the full name of the student, the full name of the teacher, the subject name, and the paper deadline
  • The in-text citation includes the last name of the author, the year of publication, and the page number
  • The reference entry will include the last name of the author, the initials of the first name, the year of publication, the title of the work cites, the publisher, and the page numbers
  • The guidelines include in-text and citation formats for different kinds of works that you should follow these guidelines

Oxford Style Citation

The Oxford reference style was created primarily for law students, but students from other disciplines can also use it. It is also known as the OSCOLO style and is frequently used in documentary citations. It is similar to the Chicago-style handbook in that it includes footnotes.

Some significant aspects of the Oxford style citation are listed below:

  • It has two parts; the footnotes that are added at the bottom of the page and the references page that has the list of the works that are used in the paper
  • To add the footnote, add a superscript number with the phrase or word that you want to explain
  • Make sure that you have added all the works that you have used in the paper, into the references list
  • The details like the name of the author and the page number from where the citation or quote has been taken
  • The format for the footnotes for different kinds of sources may be different from each other so study them carefully
  • Both the footnotes and bibliography have different formats and design

AMA Style (American Medical Association)

The American Medical Association is abbreviated as AMA. The citation style is especially utilized by medical students and is also used to style and format publications and articles in medical journals. Oxford University Press publishes the style guide, which employs the numerical referencing system.

Follow the important aspects listed here to work with the AMA style:

  • The font style and size are Times New Roman and 12 pt.
  • The addition of the title page is a choice and you can, instead, add the student and paper details as the header of the paper
  • Instead of the author’s name and year of publication, a superscript number is added with the fact or phrase that is cited
  • The superscript number takes the reader to the full citation added in the references list

ACS Style (American Chemical Society)

The American Chemical Society is abbreviated as ACS, and the ACS style is widely utilized among the chemical studies community. It differs from other citation styles in that it was created by editors and researchers in the chemical sector.

It has the following critical factors that you must consider:

  • Since the style is specifically used in the field of Chemistry, it is developed for the students and researchers of this field only
  • The style has three distinct modes of citation: the superscript number, the italicized number added in the parenthesis, and the author’s surname and year of publication
  • The structure and format of the style is well-defined and when working with it, you will have to follow them carefully

NLM Style (National Library of Medicine)

The NLM style is an abbreviated variant of the National Library of Medicine style that was intended to be used to reference sources utilized and contributed in medical journal writings and publications. The NLM style will help you comprehend and use the many citation forms used in medical literature.

The following are the key aspects of the NLM style:

  • The citation style is flexible in a way that it offers three formats for citation: the citation and sequence, the citation and name, and the last name and year of publication
  • The citation format is different for different citation sources like books, journals, articles, and web pages
  • The citation will include the name of the author, the date of publication, the title of the article of the book, and the URL of the web page, in case of an online source

AAA Style (American Anthropological Association)

The American Anthropological Association was created expressly for use in the discipline of anthropology. Because the AAA style is a version of the Chicago Manual of Style, it is closely tied to it. However, it differs somewhat from it.

Some essential features of the AAA style are described and explained below:

  • The names of the books, journals, and articles are neither italicized or underlined, they are added in a simple format
  • Instead of the initials of the first name, add the last name followed by the full first name
  • The page having the references is titled the ‘References Cited’ page
  • The entries in the References Cited age are double spaced for the students’ work and single-spaced for the works that are to be published in the journals

APSA Style (American Political Science Association)

The APSA style is intended primarily for use by political science students and academics. It is distinct from other types and is not as widespread. When working with the APSA style, keep the following criteria in mind:

  • The last name of the author and the year of publication is added in the parenthesis, at the end of the quote
  • The page number is also added at the end of the quote
  • Instead of initials, full names are used; the last name followed by a comma and first name of the author
  • The names of the books and journals will be italicized
  • The titles of the chapters and articles are added with quotation marks

All of the citation styles are distinct from one another. Because many of them are designed for certain subjects of study, they may be quite different from one another. The detailed guidelines provided here will assist you in understanding these various citation formats and formatting your work accordingly. Some students may struggle to understand different citation formats. In that scenario, looking for a custom essay writing service is a preferable alternative. Professional writers may compose an essay for you based on your specifications and formats. is a professional essay writing service that helps students get their essays and papers at affordable prices. If you are also looking for essay help, then place an order for your essay now.

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