Skip to main content

Writing & Citing: How To Choose A Citation Style

How to pick a citation style

The citation style you decide to use throughout your paper will dictate the information you need to gather and how the information will be ordered, as well as punctuation and formatting you will use for your in-text citations/footnotes /endnote and reference list/bibliography/ works cited.  Deciding what style you will use in your paper at the beginning of your research will help you know what information about the sources you need to collect. 

Here are some steps to help you decide what style you want to use:

  1. Ask your professor or TA which style is preferred or required for your course.
  2. Pick among the standard styles based on discipline/area of study of the course:
  • APA (American Psychological Association) used in the Social Sciences
  • Chicago, which supports two styles:
    • Notes and Bibliography used in the Humanities
    • Author-Date used in the Sciences and Social Sciences
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) used in English, Rhetoric, foreign language, and the humanities
  1. Consult with a Writing Associate working in the Writing Center located in the Academic Commons, Mudd Center.

Once you have picked your citation style, be sure to consistent with it throughout your paper.  You may want to consider using a citation management tool such as RefWorks to help you collect, organize, and cite the sources you use for your research.