Read below for general information, or click on the green navigation tabs for specific resources on styles like APA & MLA.
You might find yourself wondering what in the world "citation" is, how "style" has anything to do with it, and why your two professors are making your cite your work in two completely different ways! You might be an expert at one or two citation styles, or you may have never used a citation style in your life. Either way, the information needed to correctly and clearly cite information in your work is readily available to you. Today, there is no need to memorize how to cite every type of resource you may come across. In most cases, you can follow along with an online or print guide (even expert academics follow citation manuals most of the time). This guide is designed to help you cite your work.
Q: Why do you I have to cite my sources? It's not like my professor is going to check them anyway.
A: Making stuff up is not okay, and not being able to trace evidence severely weakens the credibility of your argument. Taking the risk that your professor won't check your sources is just that: a risk. You might get away with it, but if you get caught, you could face serious repercussions that might end up being more painful than just citing sources correctly in the first place.
Q: Why do I have to cite things in the style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.)?
A: Well, the first reason is because you've probably been asked to do so by your professor and you want to do well on the assignment. Besides that, the style usually fits the class and project. MLA style gives preference to author and text, which is important in literature and related studies. In the social sciences, date of publication is important as new information can quickly replace the old, so APA style puts the date at the forefront. The different styles developed to fit different scholarship needs.
Q: What happens if I can't find the information on how to cite a tweet by Beyonce?
A: Sometimes it can be difficult to cite new media like a tweet, especially if the guidelines aren't as clear as they would be for a more traditional source like a book or an article. Luckily, most style guides now have specific guidelines for citing new media, although some sources are still unclear. To be safe, follow the closest style you can find. To be extra safe, talk to your instructor. Ask them specifically how they want the information cited. In most cases, they will be more lenient on a newer media source, as long as the information in your works cited page still gives all the necessary information (author, location, date, etc.)