Cite Right: How We Cite

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Quentin:

I heard about a tool called RefWorks that can help me with my citations.  What is that?

Mike:

UMUC does subscribe to RefWorks, and it can be a useful tool for managing your citations and creating reference lists and in-text citations. 

Quentin:

Great. Can I just use that?

Mike:

However, you still need to learn how to properly format citations first, as RefWorks does not always properly format citations and you will need to check them for accuracy.  You can only do that if you know the rules first.

Quentin:

OK.The other thing I don’t understand is about styles.  Why are there so many of them, and which one do I use?

Mike:

Good question Quentin. Different citation styles were developed to support the needs of different academic disciplines. Here at UMUC you will probably encounter only three styles, APA (American Psychological Association) used in the sciences, social sciences, and business and the only citation style used in the graduate school, MLA (Modern Language Association) used in English, literature and many humanities disciplines, and Chicago (Chicago Manual of Style), used primarily in history and anthropology.

Quentin:

I guess they are all different.

Mike:

Each citation style has its own formatting rules: how to write the author's name, the publication date, the title, and so on. You will take those elements of a citation and format them according to the rules of the citation style you are using.

There are also complete style manuals that are available for each of the three styles that can help you to do this.

Quentin:

Where can I find them?

Mike:

They are available in most libraries or you can buy them. In addition the UMUC library has put common citation examples on the library Web site under the link for Citation help. Examples include citations in these three styles. The link to RefWorks can also be found there.

Before writing your paper, always check with your instructor who will specify which style to use in your paper.

Remember that while each style contains common elements such as authors, dates, article titles, journals titles, and other publication information, each style has its own rules and ways of formatting citations.  Please pay particular attention to the rules for the style that you are using. Now, choose the citation style you will be using: