Citation Styles Guide in APA, MLA, Chicago, and More

This citation styles guide will help you achieve clarity as you choose the relevant citation style and learn about the core differences. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with what footnotes are, as this knowledge will help you master the basic rules. Navigating various citation styles can be complex, but if you're struggling, a service to do my homework can ensure your citations are accurate and properly formatted. Since it's one of the most challenging aspects of academic writing, you have to master basic rules and learn how to tell some formats apart. As a rule, you will encounter at least three most popular citing styles (APA, MLA, Chicago) and one example that may relate to your studies. Once you look through the tables and examples for different citation samples, you will know what to choose for a specific assignment writing scenario. 

What is citation style? 

The chances are high that you had encountered at least one of the famous styles before as you looked through various academic journals or scientific articles with citations. Remember the author's last name in brackets or footnotes containing the reference? It's exactly what citation styles represent!

When you choose APA (stands for American Psychological Association) or have to work with MLA (Modern Language Association), you will deal with a set of rules. They are meant to help you see:

  • how to cite information as you compose an assignment;
  • how to format your paper;
  • what fonts to use;
  • how to use specific quotes;
  • how to use more than one author for one source;
  • how to paraphrase.

The primary purpose is to avoid plagiarism as you give due credit to the authors and specify the borrowed information! 

The tricky part of learning what is citation style has to deal with numerous citation options. They will depend on your subject, the specifics of the assignment, university rules, and even a publisher's requirements. The lengthy manuals offer most of these rules as they are published occasionally. For example, the Chicago Manual of Style is already in its 17th edition, while MLA represents the 9th edition from 2021. It's crucial to follow the latest rules as specific changes must be implemented in writing. 

Types of citation: parenthetical, note, and numerical citing 

First and foremost, there are three ways to cite in academic writing: parenthetical method (APA and MLA), numerical citation (IEEE and Vancouver), and note citation (Chicago). Now, let’s take time to learn the major differences. 

When dealing with more than one citation style, the most challenging aspect is identifying what you see on paper or a source you encounter elsewhere. In most cases, you will see the following three methods: 

  • Parenthetical Citation Approach: This is where you include relevant information about your citation in parentheses. It may include the author's last name with the publication date and the page number. 
  • Numerical Citation Method: This can be easily identified using superscript numbers. It will relate to the entries you must present in your references list. 
  • Note Citation Approach: This is the case where you have to include a complete citation in footnotes or endnotes. It is also using superscript numbers with a greater focus on notes. This method is mostly used for social sciences. 

One must remember that citation styles will always go beyond the in-text citation rules, as you must focus on formatting. For example, there are rules related to fonts, indents, using italics, capitalization, and more. Always refer to relevant manuals or ask your college professor for templates. 

Summing up, we have the following breakdown of styles and their use: 

Styles That Use Parenthetical Citation: MLA, AAA, APA, APSA, ASA, Chicago (Turabian) for author-date, CSE for the name-year system, Harvard.

Styles That Use Numerical Citation: ACS, AMA, CSE (if using citation-name or citation-sequence approach), IEEE, NLM, Vancouver. 

Styles That Use Note Citations: Bluebook, Chicago (Turabian) when using notes, OSCOLA

How many citation styles are there? 

According to the information provided by the University of Arlington, there are over 200 different citation styles used by modern students, scientists, and publishers. However, the most popular of them will only make a list of five to ten styles. MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian, Harvard, and Vancouver are notable. The other styles one might encounter will relate to specific tasks and studies.

Some other examples of citation styles will depend on the subject. Likewise, engineers will use IEEE standards for electronics and engineering studies. Nursing and healthcare students will use the NLM style, which stands for the National Library of Medicine. The students majoring in Political Sciences will use either Chicago or APSA citation style. 

Citation styles for Sciences

Depending on your college or university discipline, you will face at least five citation styles, including the most famous IEEE or ACS. 

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

When dealing with electronics and Data Science studies, Electrical Engineering, or cybersecurity, it is one of the most commonly used styles. It is famous for the numeric citation styles for the information presented in your assignment. The References page is sorted by numerical order. The sources have a single space indent between the entries. 

The IEEE citation style has specific rules, yet it will be familiar to students who know the Chicago citation style well. Students should use the Chicago Manual of Style references if something is not mentioned in the IEEE manual. 


  1. Williams, Ed., Holmes. London: Harvard Press, 2009. 

Journal Article: 

  1. Zhao, F. Blaabjerg, and H. Wang, “An overview of artificial intelligence applications for Power Electronics,” IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 4633–4658, 2021. 

Thesis or Dissertation:

  1. Jones, "Transwave Analysis," Ph.D. dissertation, Dept. Aud. Eng., Phoenix Univ., Arizona, USA, 2021. 

American Chemical Society (ACS)

This citation style is used in assignments related to Chemistry and Biology. It uses the Author's Name and Year of Publication, which are mentioned in parentheses. 

In-text citing in ACS citation styles for science: It has been followed by most cardio wave substances (Jackson, 2004).

The superscript numbers must appear at the end of the line as you quote. See the examples: 


McGregor, R.; Brown, M. Ocean Pollution and the Safe Chemicals; Jared. O: Los Angeles, 2005; pp. 22-26. 

Journal Article: 

King, A. The Microgenetics Studies of Dolphins and AI-based Chemical Analysis. Chem. Ocean. 2019, 22, 1233-1329. 

Thesis or Dissertation: 

Andersen, P. The Use of Probiotics in Defense Mechanisms Among Infants. Ph.D. Thesis, New York Syracuse University, June, 2012. 

National Library of Medicine (NLM)

While it is mostly used by nursing students, the NLM style is also used in medicine and Pharmacology. It implements a numerical in-text citation system. 


Mosley, R, Pulsford, N, Zandberg, H, Medical Side of Mental Diseases. 7th ed. St. Cecillia: Strandberg Press; 2021. 

Journal Article: 

Han L, Duan W, Li X, Wang C, Jin Z, Zhai Y, et al. Surface-enhanced resonance Raman scattering-guided brain tumor surgery showing prognostic benefit in rat models. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. 2019;11(17):15241–50.  

Thesis or Dissertation: 

Schlessinger, RN. Prenatal care in South America: cultural points of Hispanic Americans [dissertation]. Chile University: Universidad de Chile; 2016. 

American Medical Association (AMA)

It is one of the most popular types of citations style used by medical students. It uses the typical numerical in-text citation approach with the core difference of superscript in parenthesis. The Oxford University Press publishes the manual of style. 


Bähr Mathias. Brain Repair. New York, NY: Springer Science+Business Media; 2006. 

Journal Article: 

Han L, Duan W, Li X, et al. Surface-enhanced resonance Raman scattering-guided brain tumor surgery showing prognostic benefit in rat models. ACS Applied Materials &; Interfaces. 2019;11(17):15241-15250. doi:10.1021/acsami.9b00227 

Thesis or Dissertation: 

York, NL. Preventing Domestic Abuse. [Ph.D. thesis]. Barnes, NYC: Syracuse Medical School; 2009. 

Vancouver Citation Style

Vancouver citing is used for scientific studies and healthcare works. It is curated by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). Use numerical in-text citation that relates to relevant entries in your reference list. 


Salisbury VE, Marx, R. The use of STEM studies for Autistic Children and Development of Cognitive Studies. London: Penguin Press; 2012. 

Journal Article: 

Han L, Duan W, Li X, Wang C, Jin Z, Zhai Y, et al. Surface-enhanced resonance Raman scattering-guided brain tumor surgery showing prognostic benefit in rat models. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. 2019;11(17):15241–50.  

Citation styles for Social sciences 

If you are majoring in Social Sciences, there are at least three major citation styles: APA, AAA, or APSA. Learning about APA is essential as it's one of the most common citation solutions.  

American Psychological Association (APA)

APA citation style is relatively accessible and clear, so it is often used for social sciences. If you are studying Psychology or Education, you will encounter it at least once. It uses a parenthetical citation style for in-text citations. 

Here is how your References citation style examples will look like: 


O'Kane, L., & Sanders, R. (2005). Designing Virtual Classes for Children with Cerebral Palsy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Education Press. 

Journal Article: 

Durmuş, K., Sarol, H., & Gürkan, R. K. (2021). Autism spectrum disorder and physical activity. Journal of Human Sciences, 18(4), 691-703. doi:10.14687/jhs.v18i4.6257

American Anthropological Association (AAA)

It's mostly based on Chicago citation style. It was done using the author-date system, as seen in the examples below. 


Haviland, William A. 2013. Anthropology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 

Journal Article: 

Pagliai, Valentina. 2012. “Linguistic Anthropology.” Anthropology. doi:10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0013. 

American Political Science Association (APSA)

While it is uncommon, students majoring in Political Science will encounter this style in their studies. The U.S. government offers it and has specific rules that must be followed. The use of parenthetical citation style is used here. 


MacKenzie, Iain. 2009. Politics. London: Continuum International Publishing. 

Journal Article: 

Shaffer, Ryan. 2022. “U.S. Homegrown Political Violence and Terrorism.” Terrorism and Political Violence 34(1): 176–80. 

Thesis or Dissertation: 

Findlay, Heather. 1976. "The Use of Left-Wing Propaganda in Athens, Georgia." Ph.D. diss. MIT University. 

Citation styles for Humanities 

The citation styles for humanities will include the most famous styles. These are MLA, Chicago, Turabian (based on Chicago), and Harvard. 

Modern Language Association (MLA)

It is mostly used for introductory courses in literature, Arts, Language Studies, Sociology, and basic college studies. MLA uses a parenthetical citation style and can be identified by the MLA header for the first page. It is quite simple compared to other citation styles, so we recommend using it first! 

Book Citation Format: 

Buranelli, Vincent, et al. Tom Sawyer. Silver Burdett Co., 1984. 

Journal Article: 

“Psychotherapy with Autistic States in Children.” Autistic States in Children, 2013, pp. 170–181., 

Thesis or Dissertation: 

Monahan, Regina T. “An Examination of ADHD, ADHD Subtypes, Affect-Regulation and Social Skills in an ADHD Adult Population.” 2008. 

Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS)

As one of the oldest styles, it is mostly used for publishing purposes, which is why it is a newspaper style and the de facto standard. You can have two options: 

  • Chicago Note Citation Style;
  • Chicago Parenthetical Citation Method.


Buranelli, Vincent, Vincent Buranelli, Hieronimus Fromm, and Mark Twain. Tom Sawyer. Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett Co., 1984. 


Vincent Buranelli et al., Tom Sawyer (Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett Co., 1984).

Journal Citation: 

Han, Limei, Wenjia Duan, Xinwei Li, Cong Wang, Ziyi Jin, Yuting Zhai, Chong Cao, et al. “Surface-Enhanced Resonance Raman Scattering-Guided Brain Tumor Surgery Showing Prognostic Benefit in Rat Models.” ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 11, no. 17 (2019): 15241–50. 


Limei Han et al., “Surface-Enhanced Resonance Raman Scattering-Guided Brain Tumor Surgery Showing Prognostic Benefit in Rat Models,” ACS Applied Materials &Amp; Interfaces 11, no. 17 (2019): pp. 15241-15250,

Web Source: 

Langreo, Lauraine. “Virtual Education Is Not Popular. but Can It Improve Teaching and Learning?” Education Week. Education Week, March 6, 2023. 


Lauraine Langreo, “Virtual Education Is Not Popular. but Can It Improve Teaching and Learning?,” Education Week (Education Week, March 6, 2023),

Turabian Citation Style 

Turabian is a simplified Chicago style as the Chicago Manual of Style also publishes it. It also uses Parenthetical Style and Notes. It is mostly used for Social Sciences and Humanities. 


Haviland, William A. Anthropology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2013. 

Journal Article: 

Pereda, Noemí, and Diego A. Díaz-Faes. “Family Violence against Children in the Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic: A Review of Current Perspectives and Risk Factors.” Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 14, no. 1 (2020). 


Noemí Pereda and Diego A. Díaz-Faes, “Family Violence against Children in the Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic: A Review of Current Perspectives and Risk Factors,” Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 14, no. 1 (2020).

Thesis or Dissertation: 

Jonas Strandberg, "Social Media Bullying: Virtual Responsibility and Body Image" Ph.D. diss., University of Alberta, Alberta, 2019, Social Media Studies Bibliography (201959024823). 

Harvard Citation Style

This style is often used in Economics, Business Management, and Statistical Studies. While there is no official guide for the style, one may encounter the Australian Government Publishing Services standard (aka AGPS) or the British Standard Institute. See both citation format examples below: 


Australian style: 

Maritz, C.J., Duke, L.L., and Maritz, C.J., 2021. Business management. Cape Town, South Africa: EDGE Education. 

British style: 

Maritz, C.J., Duke, L.L. and Maritz, C.J. (2021) Business management. Cape Town, South Africa: EDGE Education. 

Journal Article: 

Australian Style: 

Anon, 2017. Social Media and Fashion Marketing. The Fundamentals of Digital Fashion Marketing, 7(12), pp.74–105. 

UK Style: 

“Social Media and Fashion Marketing” (2017) The Fundamentals of Digital Fashion Marketing, 7(12), pp. 74–105. Available at: 

Thesis or Dissertation: 

Australian style: 

Scott, M.B., 1997. Business Marketing for Public Schools of choice: A policy Delphi study. thesis. Pepperdine University, Dissertation (EdD). 

British style: 

Scott, M.B. (1997) Business Marketing for Public Schools of choice: A policy Delphi study. thesis. Pepperdine University, Dissertation (EdD). 

When should you cite sources? 

Citing sources is necessary when planning to implement information to support your thesis statement or argument. Using 2-3 sources per page (300 words) of a research paper is recommended. Some other citation scenarios may include dealing with statistical information or placing a brief reference for a case study or research that supports your opinion or poses a different opinion. This way, you can show that you are unbiased. The purpose is to keep your paper's content confident and avoid plagiarism as you showcase the research that has been done. 

Which citation style should I use? 

Unless you already have a citation style specified by your college or university professor, you must take time to see what subject you are following and what citation style would be most suitable. For example, choosing IEEE would be suitable if majoring in Data Science or Engineering. Likewise, studying English Literature, choosing MLA or APA would be a safe choice. When unsure, ask your professor or enter your subject in a search engine and add “citation styles” to see the recommendations. 

Avoiding plagiarism and get your papers delivered timely! 

As you can see, finding logic through various citation styles is not easy, especially if you use them for the first time. While learning APA vs MLA format styles will make things somewhat easier, it's crucial to focus on all the minor and major differences between other styles. If you are unsure how to cite something for a particular subject, feel free to ask one of our EduBirdie experts or use our citation generator just to stay safe. We can help you avoid plagiarism issues and meet the highest standards of a particular style. Even if you are in a hurry, we can assist you in as little as 3 hours and never miss the deadlines! 

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