A citation is a reference to a published or unpublished source. It is an abbreviated alphanumeric expression embedded in the body of an intellectual work that denotes an entry in the bibliographic references section of the work for the purpose of acknowledging the works of others. Generally the combination of both the in-body citation and the bibliographic entry constitutes what is commonly thought of as a citation (whereas bibliographic entries by themselves are not).
Citations have several important purposes: to uphold intellectual honesty or avoiding plagiarism, to attribute prior or unoriginal work and ideas to the correct sources, to allow the reader to determine independently whether the referenced material supports the author's argument in the claimed way, and to help the reader gauge the strength and validity of the material the author has used.
Citations generally subscribe to one of the generally accepted citations systems, such as American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), Chicago, and the American Medical Association (AMA) because their syntactic conventions are widely known and easily interpreted by readers. Each of these citation systems has its advantages and disadvantages.
With any of the styles listed in this LibGuide, you need to use a citation if you quote text from another source, paraphrase an author or authors' ideas, or refer to her work, such as a study, original thinking, or even an elegant turn of phrase. When you cite a source, you cannot simply repeat most of the words from the work to which you are referring. You have to put the ideas into your own words, or you need to quote the text directly.
MLA style is most commonly used to cite sources within the language arts, cultural studies, and other humanities. For more information, please consult the official MLA Handbook.
The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) is the oldest of the three major writing and citation styles in the United States, having begun with the 1906 publication of the first Chicago style guide.This style covers a variety of topics from manuscript preparation and publication to grammar, usage, and documentation and has been lovingly called the “editor'sbible.” The material in this resource focuses primarily on one of the two CMOS documentation styles: the Notes-Bibliography System (NB), which is used by those in literature, history, and the arts. The other documentation style, the Author-Date System, is nearly identical in content but slightly different in form and is preferred in the social sciences.