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Citation Guide

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Citations versus References

A citation points you to additional information.

Can be:

  • A 'parenthetical' citation within the text
    • A name and date surrounded by parentheses
    • A name and one number, or two numbers with a dash in between, surrounded by parentheses
  • A 'numbered' citation
    • A small superscript number (just above the line of text)
  • There could be a superscript number in the text, then a 'note' (additional info. about the source, but not a full reference) in the footer of the page or at the end of a book chapter.


A reference is that additional information - the full details of the source that you have cited in your writing.

Can be located:

  • On the very last page of an article or paper
  • The end of a book (or sometimes at the end of a chapter, if the book is a collection of essays or articles by different authors).

Why are there so many citation styles, anyway?!

Different disciplines value and focus on different things when it comes to citing; no one format will work for everyone.


Professions/Disciplines using parenthetical citation style::

  • Author-page styles
    • MLA
      • Why?
        • Emphasizes page number or other markers because they do a LOT of quoting
  • Harvard (author-date) styles
    • APA
    • Chicago author-date
    • CSE Name-Year
      • Why?
        • They either emphasize how current the information they're citing is
        • And/or focus on how ideas/ways of thinking about a topic evolve over time


Professions/Disciplines using numbered citations style:

  • Oxford (footnote/endnote) styles, such as
    • Chicago Notes
      • Why?
        • The kinds of sources they cite don't fit neatly into a brief parenthetical citation.
  • Vancouver (numbered sequence) styles, such as
    • AMA
    • IEEE
    • CSE Citation-Sequence
    • CSE Citation-Name
      • Why?
        • They cite a LOT of studies - so they do just numbers to not clog up the text

Anatomy of a Reference

Or, how much information about the source cited do you really need to put so that a reader can go find it?  Such as, find it here at the Whittemore Library?


Book Parts:

  • Author(s) or Editor(s)
  • Book Title
  • Edition
  • Publication Date
  • Publisher and Place of Publication

Generally, the book title and author should be enough to track it down. On the other hand, if you need one specific edition (version), published on a specific year....a citation supplies that, too. And if the book sought is very classic (probably old enough to be in the Public Domain, not under copyright, and so, no licensing cost to publish and sell it!) , it nay be published by multiple companies. Then you need the exact publisher, too.


Article Parts:

  • Article Title
  • Author(s)
  • Page Numbers
  • Periodical Title
  • Publication Date
  • Volume and Issue

Articles are a little more tricky - first, you need to see if a library has a subscription to the journal the article came from.

Then you need to see if they have that exact issue that the article is in: (Not every library carries the complete run of any single periodical.) So, date, issue, volume all helps locate the specific issue.

If you get to the correct issue, then you'll need the page number, the article title, and at least the first author's name to be certain that you have the correct article.

However, if you are looking for an article in a library that has a 'discovery tool' (such as our 'RamSearch'), all you really need is the article's complete title. You can search for the title, surrounded by double quote marks ( " ) and Ram Search will run a type of 'phrase search', all those words in that exact order. If we have it, the article will be the first, and often only result.