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Citation Style Guides: Basic Styles

This guide lists links to instruction about different citation style formats. And some other helpful citation tools.

Citing is important

What is a citation? A citation....

  • describes a book, journal article, website, or other published item
  • gives credit to the originator of an idea, thus preventing plagiarism
  • enables the reader to retrieve the item you refer to
  • includes the author, title, source (publisher and place of publication or URL), and date

A citation manager is a tool which helps you to store, organize and output your citations in the format you prefer.

Citation Wisdom

There are currently many guides for learning citation styles for both print and electronic resources. Students should use the style guides generally accepted by their departments. You'll need to ask your professor which one he or she prefers. On this page, you will find guides to citing both print and electronic resources from a variety of venues. Kinlaw Library has many books and other resources that explain the citation process.  You should also seek help from the Center for Academic Excellence.

It is important that you are consistent throughout your paper in how the citations are presented and what information they include. Remember, the whole concept of citations is to help your reader identify and retrieve the same material you used and also to give proper credit to those who have come before you!

What are we talking about?

A citation reflects all of the information a person would need to locate a particular source. For example, basic citation information for a book consists of name(s) of author(s) or editor(s), title of book, name of publisher, place of publication, and most recent copyright date.

A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting.

A bibliography lists citations for all of the relevant resources a person consulted during his or her research.

In an annotated bibliography, each citation is followed by a brief note—or annotation—that describes and/or evaluates the source and the information found in it.

A works cited list presents citations for those sources referenced in a particular paper, presentation, or other composition.

An in-text citation consists of just enough information to correspond to a source's full citation in a Works Cited list. In-text citations often require a page number (or numbers) showing exactly where relevant information was found in the original source.


Start with these links to the basic guides:

Use our Guides to Styles

These guides all have very useful examples and instructions to help you create citations for lots of sources in a variety of formats.  Check with your professor for any special instructions.

Style Manuals at the Library

These are style manuals at the Library.   These contain the most complete information about that particular style, with plenty of examples and explanation. 


Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool that can help you to collect, organize, cite, and share your research resources, all from within your Firefox web browser.  There is also a standalone version.  With the click of a button you can instantly store citation information for the online information you find as you browse the web or the library's databases.  You can also annotate your sources as well as organize them into separate folders.  Moreover, your Zotero library of sources is accessible on multiple computers via a syncing feature.  And when you are ready to write and cite, Zotero can even generate a references list for you in any one of a number of citation styles.

Check out our handy guide with instructions on how to make full use of this tool.   Great videos!

For more details, see U. of Baltimore's Zotero Guide (.pdf). You may also want to take a look at the Quick Start Guide (.pdf) from the folks at Zotero.