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Competences: 23 Things Reference - Thing #18

Working with Citations

Remember doing footnotes back when you were in school? Well, things have changed quite a bit in the world of citations and we need to have this knowledge in order to assist our middle and high school patrons, as well as those who are currently in college.

Citations style vary from print to online resources and it is important that you know where to find this information. While it is unreasonable to expect everyone to know how to cite everything, it is reasonable to expect that you know where to find them and understand the instructions well enough that you can assist our patrons in creating citations.

This Thing will familiarize you with the different types of styles, as well as lead you to some places that can help patrons write their own using online tools.

Why Cite?
The UCLA Library has explained the reasons for citation in a really no-nonsense way. Here's what they have to say:

It may seem like citing your sources is tedious, but it's important and there are many reasons to do it.

Attributing and documenting your sources:

  • Helps you avoid plagarizing.
  • Allows the reader to find your research sources. Think of citations as footprints leading the reader through some of the steps you took to reach your conclusions.
  • Provides evidence for your arguments and adds credibility to your work by demonstrating that you have sought out and considered a variety of viewpoints on a given topic.
  • Is standard practice for scholars and students engaged in written academic conversations. By citing your sources, you demonstrate that you are responding to this person, agreeing with that person, adding something to what so-and-so said and so forth.

Types of Citation Styles

There are many different types of citation styles. Some instructors require a certain type and others are dictated by the field of study. The following are the main citation styles and their associated specialties:

APA - Used for psychology, education, nursing and other social sciences

MLA - Used for literature, arts and humanities

ASA - Used for sociology and related disciplines

ACS - Used for the sciences, but represents a more team-based production of knowledge

Chicago, Turabian and Sciences - These citation styles are used only when required by specific instructors

Government Publications - This is a style specific to citing documents and websites from the U.S. and other governments

Online Tools for Citation Building

Assignment: Citation Styles

Using whichever tool you'd like, create a citation for the following works. Send your answers as a Word document to

MLA Citation: Carnival of the Dead by David Hewson (Catalog Link)

APA Citation: The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel (Catalog Link)

Chicago Citation: "What's Hot: The Latest in Library Products & Furnishings - Library By Design" (Resource Link)

APA Citation: The Gettysburg Address

APA Citation Style

MLA Citation Style

ASA Citation Style

ACS Citation Style

Chicago, Turabian and Sciences Citation Style

Citing Government Publications