Key concept about citation

You should cite resources that contribute to your work, both direct quotes and concepts and information you have summarized or used in another way. General knowledge or ideas that appear in all resources you consulted do not need to be cited. For example, Martin Luther King’s birth and death dates do not need a citation, but if you use his ideas about agape to form your own discussion, you need to cite King or the resource where you found his ideas.

Top-notch online sources for citation help

For All Types of Citations… 

  • A Pocket Style Manual (Diana Hacker) –  APA, MLA, CSE, and Chicago examples and details; easy to use, this is the handbook used at Valpo.
  • The Little Seagull Handbook (Richard Bullock and Francine Weinberg) – MLA, APA, Chicago, CSE; links to sample papers and tasks like annotated bibliography
  • Writing Center at University of Wisconsin at Madison – APA, MLA, CSE, APSA, Chicago, numbered sources; this is a champion resource with many examples.

For MLA Citations…

  • MLA Style Guide: The Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) has example citations and other information helpful to writing a paper in MLA.

For APA Citations… 

  • APA–6th edition help: The Purdue OWL also has example citations and other information from the new 6th edition of APA style (American Psychological Association).
  • APA Online: excellent FAQs and details from the American Psychological Association itself; find answers to tricky citation situations.

For Chicago Citations… 

  • The Chicago Manual of Style Online: This is the definitive source for both Notes and Bib and Author-Date styles of CMS. Be aware of this as you write your essay and choose your citation — they are different!

Choosing a citation style

In addition to asking your professor which citation style is best for the assignment, you should ask for further detail, especially for graduate-level papers. Does the professor expect footnotes or in-text citations? Today, MLA uses in-text citations, not footnotes. If the assignment designates MLA with footnotes, you should ask for more clarification; perhaps Chicago style would be a better choice.

  • MLA – (Modern Language Association) – the simplest style; used in the humanities, where the date of publication may not be significant; citation with author and page appears within the text. If in doubt at Valpo, choose MLA.
  • APA – (American Psychological Association) – features dates prominently within the text because when a study was done is important; often required in these fields at Valpo: nursing, psychology, education, business, social work, or sociology. Names of the authors are often included within the text of a sentence: “Johnson and Lin (2001) examined whether passersby could differentiate between tap water and bottled water.”
  • Chicago – (Chicago Manual of Style CM) – uses footnotes collected at the end or the bottom of the page; Word provides a feature for insertion/deletion but not formatting. At Valpo, history, theology, or business classes may suggest this style, especially where there are many citations. This style allows you to easily add information footnotes as well as resource footnotes. Place a note number at the end of the citation, after the last punctuation. Number citations consecutively.
  • CSE – (Council of Science Editors) – includes two citation methods: can include the authors’ names and publication dates in parenthetical citations in the text like APA, or can use superscript numbers matching numbered items in the bibliography. At Valpo, some classes in the sciences favor CSE; ask your professor which method to use within CSE.

Other ways to get help with citation and bibliography

The Christopher Center has manuals and handbooks available. A Writing Consultant will be your partner in working out citation questions. A face-to-face appointment is best. However, you can email us for a specific problem; we’ll try to find a solution. We have many manuals of style in the Writing Center that you are welcome to use.

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