Commonly Used Citation Styles
The citation styles (also known as documentation styles or bibliographic styles) commonly used by NCC students are MLA and APA. Each style is associated with different disciplines (or areas of study):
While you conduct your research, you should collect all of the identifying pieces of information about your sources. To properly format that information in your paper, you will follow the organization guidelines laid out by the particular citation style you have been assigned to use.
All citation styles require similar information, and organize that information in similar ways. The difference is primarily what is included, order, capitalization, and punctuation. Learning how to use one citation style will make it easy to learn others. The organization and formatting guidelines for each style are compiled in resources called style guides.
Citations consist of identifying information about the sources you are using in your research. To cite properly, you need to be able to distinguish between different types of information sources. For example, there are different rules for citing print versus online sources, and individual online articles versus articles from library databases. If you cannot find a certain piece of information (for example, many websites do not list an author or page numbers) most style guides will tell you how to handle these situations.
Before you start your research:
For every information source you identify, decide what kind of information source it is, and use the style guide to note the information you will need to include to cite that source properly. Keep a running list of that information as you search.
Often, we begin researching one topic and that research leads us to a more interesting topic. Keep track of citation information for all related sources, so you can easily find them again, if needed.
There is more information available today, in more formats, than ever before, so the way we cite sources needs to evolve to keep pace. MLA 8 was designed to simplify the process, helping writers accurately and intuitively cite sources more easily, requiring that every source type follow the same format. This means that books, websites, periodicals, videos, photographs, and all other types of sources now use this same standard format.
MLA 8 requires researchers to locate the same “core elements” from their sources and place them in a standard order in order to create their citations.
The “Core Elements” of an MLA 8 citation, along with their corresponding punctuation marks, include the following (in this order):
Title of the source.
Title of container,
The appropriate punctuation mark will follow each core element, unless it is the final piece. In this case, the punctuation mark would be a period.
APA (which stands for American Psychological Association) format is a standardized method for giving credit to those whose work you use. It is important to let your readers know where you got your information. This style is used in courses such as History, Allied Health, Education, Nursing, Psychology and Sociology.
Every research paper or project that uses outside sources must include a list of those sources at the end of the paper. This is called References and should list all sources in proper APA format alphabetically by the authors' last names.
APA format has specific forms for each type of resource you use: books, magazine articles, journal articles etc. It even differentiates between online and print materials. It may require inclusion of a D.O.I. or Digital Object Identifier number.
Every source you used must be included in your References page at the end of your paper.
Parts of an APA Citation
Each source format has its own citation format. In addition to the author(last name, first initial) and title:
In addition to citation style guides, there are numerous tools -- from basic to advanced -- to help you format, organize, and share your citations.