Giving Credit to Sources

Style Guides

Style guides help us produce clear, consistent documentation. The rules for citing your sources depend on which style guide you use. A style guide is a set of rules for formatting and presenting information in written work. Scholars usually adhere to guides related to their discipline. Although there are many style guides, the three used most often for university research papers are:

  • MLA handbook for writers of research papers (7th ed.). (2009). New York: Modern Language Association of America. [MLA style is used in languages, literature, and some sciences.]

  • Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). (2009). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. [APA style is used for research in linguistics; human, behavioral, social, and political sciences; education; computer science and information management; business and management; and environmental and physical sciences.]

  • The Chicago manual of style (16th ed.). (2010). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [Chicago style is used in some sciences and mathematics.]

Because of its prevalence, APA style is recommended most often. This Guide to Academic Writing is documented in APA style, and you should use APA style unless your instructor specifies otherwise. In the workplace, you will find that various style guides are often modified to meet the needs of particular organizations.


  • Style guides provide formats for uniform citation of works authored by other people.

  • MLA, APA, and Chicago/Turabian are examples of style guides used in academic disciplines.

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