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Citation Guide

Get help and resources for citing in APA, MLA, and Chicago styles.

Citation FAQ

What is citation?

Citation is a system by which an author provides a list of the sources (a bibliography) they used to create their work - like a research paper, a presentation, an article, or a book. Citations always follow a formal style so they can be read, understood, and followed to the original source by anyone reading the work.

How do I know what style to use?

Your syllabus or assignment should tell you what style to use. If it does not, ask your instructor what they require. Generally, certain styles are used for certain subjects:

  • MLA - English, Art, the Humanities
  • APA - Social Sciences, Psychology, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Human Services
  • Chicago - History

What's the difference between a bibliography and "in-text" citation?

Your bibliography is the list of all the sources you used throughout your work, usually on the last page of your paper or presentation. In-text citation is when you note in the body of your paper or presentation when you are using someone else's words or ideas, usually by placing their name and a date and/or page numbers in parentheses, like this: (Smith 137).

Why do we bother citing?

  • CREDIT - When we use someone else's ideas, we want to give credit where credit is due. Otherwise, we would be plagiarizing, that is, misrepresenting someone else's ideas as our own.
  • VERIFICATION - Leaving a clear trail that a reader can follow to double-check your information means we can have more confidence that it is reliable.
  • CONNECTION - Citations connect your ideas to the ideas that helped you create your work and informed your thinking. This helps your instructor (or any other reader) understand your position and your background, and find their way to these related sources of information.

What kinds of sources do I have to cite?

  • Anything that is not your own idea must be cited.
  • Sources can include: books, magazine articles, newspapers, journal articles, websites, blogs, videos, song lyrics, images, dictionaries, encyclopedias, personal interviews, correspondence, course materials, textbooks, data, statistics, and more.
  • Cite a source whether you found it in print or online.
  • Even if you're only using a small part of another person's work (a directly quoted sentence or phrase, for instance), you still need to cite it.


To cite this LibGuide use the following templates:

APA: Northern Essex Community College Library. (Date updated). Title of page. Title of LibGuide. URL

MLA: Northern Essex Community College Library. "Title of Page." Title of LibGuide, Date updated, URL.