Citation Styles Guide: APA, MLA, IEEE, Turabian, and Chicago

Working on an academic paper and confused about which citation style you should use for your paper?

Citations are the backbone of academic writing, but they can be confusing. To help you navigate through this complex topic, we have compiled a list of citation styles with accompanying explanations. Be sure to use your school’s guidelines for the correct citation style!

In this blog, you’ll learn about the different citation styles and which one is suitable for your paper.

Start reading!


On this Page

  • What is a Citation Style?
  • Citation Formats – What are the Different Citation Formats?
  • List of Citation Styles – What are the Different Citation Styles?
  • How to Choose the Correct Citation Style for Your Paper?

What is a Citation Style?

A citation style is a set of rules on how to give credit to individuals for their intellectual and creative work. It is a set of guidelines on how to cite sources in academic papers. When you utilize or refer to someone else’s work to support your research, you should cite them properly.

It is essential to cite the sources correctly to avoid the risk of plagiarism and locate particular sources. Citation style guidelines are often published in an official handbook

containing instructions, examples, and explanations. Typically, a citation includes the author’s name, publishing date, paper title, publication information, and DOI (Digital Object Identifier).

How many Citation Styles are there?

The four most common citation styles are MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian. However, there are many other citation styles available for every academic discipline, i.e., sciences, humanities, etc.

The different citation styles are as follow:

  • American Psychological Association
  • (APA)Modern Language Association
  • (MLA)Chicago Manual of Style
  • (CMOS)Institute of Electrical and
  • Electronics Engineers (IEEE)American
  • Political Science Association
  • (APSA)American Anthropological
  • Association (AAA)American Medical
  • Association (AMA)National Library of
  • Medicine (NLM)American Chemical
  • Society (ACS)Vancouver Citation
  • StyleTurabian Citation StyleHarvard
  • Citation Style

Why are there Different Citation Styles?

As there are different academic disciplines, so do different citation styles. Each academic discipline has defined various citation styles. It is because the timelines for the work are different for different disciplines.

Each citation style contains similar items like the paper’s title, author’s name, date, and DOI. But, the conventions are different, i.e., capitalization, the order of elements, referencing style, etc. The conventions are the set of codes representing the formatting rules and how to present the information in a citation.

Citation Formats – What are the Different Citation Formats?

Each citation style is different from other citation styles. Each style has defined its rules for formatting, reference list entries, and an in-text citation for your paper.

Before you use a citation style in your paper, you should carefully learn about its rules.

The differences between the different citation style rules can be very subtle, so it’s important to check them carefully.

1. Numeric Citation

This style is mostly used in the science discipline and is commonly known as a citation style with numbers. Each in-text citation source is numbered in brackets, referring to the full citation listed in the bibliography list. The list is organized numerically and given at the end of the paper.

2. Parenthetical Citation

This style is commonly used in humanities discipline citation styles. Each in-text citation source is given in parentheses, which refers to the corresponding entry in the reference list. It uses the last name of the author and a page number, i.e. (paul 150).

3. Note Citation

It is commonly used in the social sciences discipline. It uses the numbered footnote or endnote to cite the source, referring to the corresponding entry in the reference list.

List of Citation Styles – What are the Different Citation Styles?

The citation style you choose for your paper is largely dictated by the discipline you are writing for. The academic disciplines are divided into three categories, i.e., science, humanities, and social sciences. Each academic discipline has its dedicated and specific citation styles.

Professors usually define which citation style you need to follow for your paper. However, as students progress through their academic careers, they might find flexibility in selecting the style that works best for them.

Citation Styles for Sciences

There are five different citation styles for the science discipline, i.e., IEEE, ACS, NLM, AMA, and Vancouver. The most commonly used citation styles are IEEE and ACS.

  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

IEEE citation style is commonly used in technical studies, i.e., electrical engineering, computer science, IT. It uses the numeric citation style for in-text citation, corresponding to a specific entry in the reference work cited page. The reference list is organized in numerical order, aligned left. And, the source entries are indented with a single space between each entry.

IEEE has guidelines for specific sources, i.e., books, journals, conference papers, etc. It is closely related to the Chicago citation style in the humanities group. Chicago style could be used for the source types that are not covered in IEEE.

IEEE Citation Style Example

Category  Work Cited
Book  D. Sarunyagate, Ed., Lasers. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996.
Journal Article  A. Vaskuri, H. Baumgartner, P. Kärhä, G. Andor, and E. Ikonen, “Modeling the spectral shape of InGaAlP-based red light-emitting diodes,” Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 118, no. 20, pp. 203103-1–203103-7, Jul. 2015. Accessed on: Feb. 9, 2017. [Online]. Available doi: 10.1063/1.4936322
Conference Paper  V. Chandrasekaran, S. Sanghavi, P. A. Parrilo, and A. S. Willsky. (2009). Sparse and low-rank matrix decompositions. Presented at IFAC 2009. [Online]. Available: article/pii/S1474667016388632
Thesis or Dissertation O. Williams, “Narrow-band analyzer,” Ph.D. dissertation, Dept. Elect. Eng., Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA, 1993.


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  • American Chemical Society (ACS)

ACS citation style is commonly used in chemical and biological discipline papers. It has below-given variations for in-text citation:

  • Author name and year of publication: The author’s name and publication date is mentioned in parenthesis on the line of text.
  • The primary structure of an enzyme has also been determined (Finnegan et al., 2004).
  • Italic numbers: An italicized number is mentioned in parenthesis inside the punctuation on the line of text.
  • The mineralization of TCE by a pure culture of a methane-oxidizing organism has been reported (6).
  • Superscript numbers: A number appears on the punctuation at the end of a line or clause.
  • Oscillation in the reaction of benzaldehyde with oxygen was reported previously.

In all three variations, the name could be made part of the sentence, i.e., Johanson3, Arif(9). The choice of the styles depends on the subject matter or the journal paper you are writing for.

ACS Citation Style Example

Category Work Cited
Book Le Couteur, P.; Burreson, J. Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History; Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam: New York, 2003; pp 32–47.
Journal Article Klingler, J. Influence of Pretreatment on Sodium Powder. Chem. Mater. 2005, 17, 2755–2768.
Thesis or Dissertation Mäckel, H. Capturing the Spectra of Silicon Solar Cells. Ph.D. Thesis, The Australian National University, December 2004.
  • National Library of Medicine (NLM)

NLM is preliminary in the medical world, i.e., biology, medicine, etc. It uses the numerical in-text citation style for referencing.

NLM Citation Style Example

Category Work Cited
Book Murray PR, Rosenthal KS, Kobayashi GS, Pfaller MA. Medical microbiology. 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby; 2002.
Journal Article Zhang M, Holman CD, Price SD, Sanfilippo FM, Preen DB, Bulsara MK. Comorbidity and repeat admission to hospital for adverse drug reactions in older adults: a retrospective cohort study. BMJ. 2009 Jan 7;338:a2752. DOI: 10.1136/BMJ.a2752. PubMed PMID: 19129307; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2615549.
Conference Paper Christensen S, Oppacher F. An analysis of Koza’s computational effort statistic for genetic programming. In: Foster JA, Lutton E, Miller J, Ryan C, Tettamanzi AG, editors. Genetic programming. EuroGP 2002: Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Genetic Programming; 2002 Apr 3-5; Kinsdale, Ireland. Berlin: Springer; 2002. p. 182-91.
Thesis or Dissertation Borkowski MM. Infant sleep and feeding: a telephone survey of Hispanic Americans [dissertation]. Mount Pleasant (MI): Central Michigan University; 2002.
  • American Medical Association (AMA)

AMA style is also preliminary in the medical sciences discipline. It follows the numerical in-text citation style, set in the superscript with the page number included in parenthesis. Oxford University Press has published the style guide for AMA citation style.

AMA Citation Style Example

Category Work Cited
Book Reed PG, Shearer NB. Nursing Knowledge and Theory Innovation: Advancing the Science of Practice. New York, NY: Springer; 2011:45-47. id=301779. Accessed September 18, 201
Journal Article Watts T. Initiating end-of-life care pathways: A discussion paper. J Adv Nursing. 2012;68(10):2359-2370. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05924.x.
Conference Paper Cronin C. Memoing: An active tool in research. Poster presented at RCN Annual International Nursing Research Conference; April 23, 2012. London, UK. Accessed September 23, 2012.
Thesis or Dissertation Taylor RL. Downsizing the Dial: The Reinvention of Private Radio in Canada. [[Ph.D. thesis]. Burnaby, BC: British Columbia Institute of Technology; 2008
  • Vancouver

Vancouver citation style is used in science and medicine. It is developed by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). It uses the numerical in-text citation style that refers to the corresponding entry in the reference list.

Vancouver Citation Style Example

Category Work Cited
Book Simons NE, Menzies B, Matthews M. A Short Course in Soil and Rock Slope Engineering. London: Thomas Telford Publishing; 2001.
Journal Article Read B. Anti-cheating crusader vexes some professors. Chronicle of Higher Education. 2008;54(25). Available from: [Accessed 18th June 2015].
Conference Paper Wittke M. Design, construction, supervision and long-term behavior of tunnels in swelling rock. In: Van Cotthem A, Charlier R, Thymus J-F, Tshibangu J-P. (eds.) Eurock 2006: multiphysics coupling and long term behavior in rock mechanics: Proceedings of the International Symposium of the International Society for Rock Mechanics, EUROCK 2006, 9–12 May 2006, Liège, Belgium. London: Taylor & Francis; 2006. p.211–216.
Thesis or Dissertation Pahl KM. Preventing anxiety and promoting social and emotional strength in early childhood: an investigation of risk factors [dissertation on the Internet]. St Lucia, Qld: University of ?Queensland; 2009 [cited 2017 Nov 22]. Available from:

Citation Styles For Humanities

The four citation styles for humanities groups are MLA, Chicago, Turabian, and Harvard. MLA and Chicago are the most common citation styles used for referencing sources in the humanities discipline.

  • Modern Language Association (MLA)

MLA style is commonly used in the fields like literature, arts, linguistics, etc. It was developed by the Modern Language Association and used a parenthetical citation style. It is a simple citation style compared to other styles, which is why students used it more often.

MLA Citation Style Example

Category Work Cited
Book Franzen, Jonathan. The Corrections. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001.
Journal Article Zhai, Xiaojuan, and Jingjing Wang. “Improving Relations Between Users and Libraries: A Survey of Chinese Academic Libraries.” The Electronic Library, vol. 34, no. 4, 2016, pp. 597-616.
Conference Paper Lewis, Jack. “Lost Literature: The Social Consequences of Stock Loss.” Proceedings of the International Library Conference, Amsterdam, 13–14 June, edited by W. Oldham, LCP Publications, 2015.
Thesis or Dissertation Fletcher, Marissa. Influences of Nutrition and Pathogenicity from a Microbial Diet on Immunity and Longevity in Caenorhabditis Elegans. 2012. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D. DSpace@MIT,


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  • Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS)

The Chicago style is commonly used in the History field and is published by the Chicago Manual of Style. It has the following variations:

  • Chicago A: Uses Note Citation style
  • Chicago B: Uses Parenthetical Citation style

CMOS Citation Style Example

Category Work Cited in Chicago A Work Cited in Chicago B
Book Einstein, Albert. The Meaning of Relativity. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1923. Einstein, Albert. 1923. The Meaning of Relativity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Journal Article Dickstein, Morris. “A Literature of One’s Own: The Question of Jewish Book Awards.” Princeton University Library Chronicle 63, no. 1–2 (Winter 2002): 70–74.
Dickstein, Morris. 2002. “A Literature of One’s Own: The Question of Jewish Book Awards.” Princeton University Library Chronicle 63, no. 1–2 (Winter): 70–74.
Internet Source (website) Marshall, Alex. “Graphic Novel in Running for Man Booker Prize for First Time.” New York Times, July 23, 2018.
Marshall, Alex. 2018. “Graphic Novel in Running for Man Booker Prize for First Time.” New York Times, July 23, 2018.
  • Turabian

Turabian style is very similar to the Chicago style and also published by the Chicago Manual Style. Just like the Chicago style, Turabian uses two variations: Parenthetical style and Note style. The parenthetical style is used in social sciences, and the note style is used in humanities.

Turabian Citation Style Examples

Category Work Cited
Book Druin, Allison, and Cynthia Solomon. 1996. Designing multimedia environments for children. New York, NY: J. Wiley & Sons
Journal Article Villarreal, Mark. 2006. Finding our place: Reconstructing community through oral history. The Oral History Review 33, no. 2. (accessed August 9, 2010).
Conference Paper Gallegos, Bee, Tammy Allgood, and Karen Godin. 2007. Quarantined: The Fletcher Library game project. Paper presented at the national conference of LOEX, San Diego, CA. May 4.
Thesis or Dissertation Kimberly Knight, “Media Epidemics: Viral Structures in Literature and New Media” Ph.D. diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2011, MLA International Bibliography (2013420395).
  • Harvard

Harvard is an unofficial citation style, commonly used in economics and other humanities subjects. No official style guide is available, which means it has a few variations. It is similar to the APA citation style in the social sciences discipline. Some organizations have published their own guides for the Harvard style.

  • Australian Government Publishing Services (AGPS)
  • British Standard Institute

Harvard Citation Style Example

Category Work Cited
Book Wallace, R. A., and Wolf, A., (2006). Contemporary sociological theory: expanding the classical tradition. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
Journal Article Dobson, H., (2006). Mister Sparkle meets the ‘Yakuza’: depictions of Japan in The Simpsons. Journal of Popular Culture [online]. 39(1), 44–68. [Viewed 5 October 2015]. Available from: DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2006.00203.x
Conference Paper Redknap, M., (2004). Viking–age settlements in Wales and the evidence from Llanbedrgoch. In: J. Hines, A. Lane, and M. Redknap, eds. Land, sea and home, proceedings of a conference on Viking–period settlement, July 2001, Cardiff.Leeds: Maney Publishing, pp. 139–175.
Thesis or Dissertation Tomlinson, S.E., (2009). Understanding the friction between human fingers and contacting surfaces. Ph.D. thesis, University of Sheffield. [Viewed 14 October 2015]. Available from:

Citation Styles For Social Sciences

The three main citation styles for social sciences are APA, AAA, and APSA. APA citation style is the most commonly used style in the social sciences group.

  • American Psychological Association (APA)

?APA style is the simplest citation style and most commonly used in the social sciences discipline. It was developed by the American Psychological Association to use specifically in psychology and social sciences. It follows the parenthetical citation style for the in-text citation.

APA Citation Style Example

Category Work Cited
Book Druin, A., & Solomon, C. (1996). Designing multimedia environments for children. New York, NY: J. Wiley & Sons.
Journal Article Humphrey, M., & Hourcade, J. J. (2010). Special educators and mathematics phobia: An initial qualitative investigation. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, 83(1), 26-30. DOI: 10.1080/00098650903267743
Conference Paper Gallegos, B., Allgood, T., & Gondin, K. (2007, May). Quarantined: The Fletcher Library Game Project. Paper presented at the national conference of LOEX, San Diego.
Thesis or Dissertation Thomas, R. (2009). The making of a journalist: The New Zealand way (Doctoral thesis, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand). Retrieved from
  • American Anthropological Association (AAA)

AAA style is based on the Chicago citation style in the humanities group. It was specifically designed for the students of anthropology and based on the author-date system.

AAA Citation Style Example

Category Work Cited
Book Bonacich, Edna, with Mark Smith and Kathy Hunt 1999 The Economic Basis of Ethnic Solidarity: Small Business in the Japanese American Community. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Journal Article Moll, Luis C. 2000 Writing as Communication: Creating Strategic Learning Environments for Students. Theory into Practice 25(3):202-208.
Conference Paper Poveda, David 2000 Paths to Participation in Classroom Conversations. Paper presented at the 7th International Pragmatics Conference, Budapest, July 9-14.
Thesis or Dissertation D’Amato, John 1989 “We Cool, That’s Why”: A Study of Personhood and Place in a Class of Hawaiian Second Graders. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Education, University of Hawai
  • American Political Science Association (APSA)

APSA is the least commonly used citation style and is specifically designed for political science students. The United States government has provided specific rules for documentation. It follows the parenthetical citation style for the in-text citation.

APSA Citation Style Example

Category Work Cited
Book North, Douglass, John Wallis, and Barry Weingast. 2009. Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Journal Article Blondel, Jean, and Nick Manning. 2002. “Do Ministers Do What They Say? Ministerial Unreliability, Collegial and Hierarchical Governments.” Political Studies 50: 455-76.
Conference Paper Obergefell v. Hodges. 2014. In Identifying Risk – Poor Or Lack Of Documentation And Record Keeping -Perioperative Care Plan.
Thesis or Dissertation Munger, Frank J. 1955. “Two-Party Politics in the State of Indiana.” Ph.D diss. Harvard University.

How to Choose the Correct Citation Style for Your Paper?

When students write a research paper for the first time, they face a dilemma while choosing the citation style. Many students are unaware of various citation styles. Usually, the professor specifies the style for the students writing a research paper for the first time. But, sometimes, they ask students to choose the style on their own.

When it comes to students choosing a citation style for their papers, they face many difficulties. However, only two main keys will determine which citation style is correct for your paper.

    • Determine which academic discipline your subject belongs to, i.e., sciences, humanities, or social sciences.
    • Know which subject you are writing your research paper, i.e., psychology, computer science, or any other

Citation Management Tools

There are several tools available for automatic citation. These tools are really helpful for document preparation systems for high-quality paper settings. The most common citation management tool is LaTex software.

LaTex software is a high-quality typesetting system that is commonly used for document preparation. It includes various features designed for the production of scientific and technical documents. Some facilities for citation styles in LaTex are as follow:

  • BiblaTex: It is a complete re-implementation of bibliographic facilities in LaTex. It provides a flexible and easier interface to process bibliography information.
  • BibTex: It is a reference management software that is used for the formatting of a reference list.
  • Natbib: It is a complete package for customizing citations. It implements both numbered and author-year references

Zotero is another open-source and free reference management software like LaTex. It is an easy-to-use tool that collects, organizes, cites, and shares research. Mendeley Citation Styles is also a free and open-source reference management tool commonly used by research students. It has easy-to-install plug-ins for BibTex, LibreOffice, and Word.

Endnote Citation Styles is a commercial management software commonly used for managing references and bibliography in research papers. It has an easy-to-use interface that allows students to manage citations and bibliographies with ease.

These tools are very easy to use. Once you get familiar with them, you can easily format the bibliographies in your papers with these tools. But, if you need help, we are always there for you. is a legit ‘ write an essay for me’ service that provides quality help for research papers and other academic papers.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common citation style?

MLA citation style is the most common kind of citation style. It is used in humanities and it is usually based on the parenthetical citation format.

What is the difference between Harvard and APA referencing?

Harvard referencing style is used to cite sources in education and social and behavioral sciences. APA style is most commonly used in scientific studies and papers.

Which citation style is easiest?

The easiest way to cite is to add the author’s last name, followed by the year of publication. Based on these specifications, APA and MLA are the easiest styles to use for citation.

What is the difference between a citation and referencing?

The citation is added within the paper or text while the reference is the full bibliographic information of the same citation.

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