As a rule of thumb, you must correctly and fully cite any academic paper that you decide to write. As a matter of fact, course instructors are always carefully when evaluating the manner in which a given student has used a certain citation style. This is to say that there is no way that you can claim to be a good academic writer if you do not understand the given citation style that is used in the discipline that you have specialized in. Basically, citation can be understood as a way in which one acknowledges the authors of the various sources that he/she has used in his/her academic paper. It is also one of the best ways of avoiding plagiarism. There are numerous citation styles that are used in different academic disciplines. Some of the most common ones are: APA, MLA, Chicago as well as AMA.
To begin with, American Psychological Association (APA) is normally used in Psychology, sciences as well as in education. This is one of the citation styles that use the author date system of citation. In other words, when using this style of writing you need to indicate the surname of the author and the date of publication whenever you use the information from the given source of information in your paper. You are only supposed to include the exact page number where the specific information can be found when you are directly quoting from the specific source.
Modern language Association (MLA) is yet another popular citation styles. Notably, most humanities use this citation style. Unlike APA writing and referencing style that uses Author date system this specific style uses author page number system. In other words, you are supposed to include the surname of the author and the specific page where the information that you have used to write your academic paper can be found. This system seems to emphasize on credibility of the author as opposed to how current a given source is.
Moreover, Chicago is also among the most popular citation styles. Normally this style of citing is commonly used in history, fine arts as well as history. It is quite unique as it utilizes endnotes as well as footnotes when acknowledging the specific source where certain piece of information has been derived. The corresponding source of the footnote or endnote which appears as a superscript in the text is then indicated in the bibliography. America Medical Association (AMA) is also quite common. This citation style is commonly used in medical sciences.
A citation style is a set of rules or guidelines used to cite a source in academic writing. There are different citation styles such as Harvard, Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA)
When choosing a citation style, it is important to consider the guidelines given by the university department and the field of study, for instance, Harvard citation style is mainly used in economics.
Citations are used to avoid plagiarism. Different citation styles have dissimilar rules for;
- Page formatting
- In-text citations
- Reference list
When you refer to a source in the text, either by quoting or paraphrasing, you have to include a brief citation. There are three ways used in the in-text citation.
- Parenthesis citation
- Notes citation
- Numeric citation
Reference list entries
A reference list entails full details about all the sources cited in the paper. It is included at the end of the paper. In APA citation style, it is known as the reference page, MLA work cited, and Chicago A bibliography.
APA stands for American Psychological Association. It is a citation style that is used in education and psychology.
It follows the author-date format in the in-text citation. Only the surname is included together with the date the source was published. The parenthesis citation is used, for example, James, (2017) stated…. or …. (James, 2017)
If it is a direct quote, the page number is also indicated, for example, “Preserving history is essential for future reference” (James, 2017, P.140).
When two authors are involved, and or an ampersand is used to separate them, for example, James and Smith (2017) stated… or …. (James & Smith, 2017).
Three, four or five authors
If there are three to five authors, all their surnames are mentioned in the first citation, and commas are used to separate them. For example, James, John, & Smith (2017) stated…. or …. (James, John, and Smith, 2017)
Et al is used in the subsequent citations, for example, (James et al, 2017)
More than six authors
If there are more than six authors, only the surname of the first author is mentioned followed by et al.
All references mentioned should be indicated on the reference page. They should be centered and arranged in alphabetical order.
In the reference page, the citation should be organized in the following format; author’s surname, initial(s), date of publication, title, publisher, and URL.
MLA stands for Modern Language Association. It is mainly used in humanities.
MLA style follows the author-page number format. This includes the author’s last name and the page number, for instance, (Luke 3)
If there are two or three authors, include their last names, for instance, (Jude, James and Smith 123)
If the authors exceed three only include the last name of the first author followed by et al.
The citations should begin with the author’s names, title, date of publication, and any other information depending on the source type.
The references should be on a new page, double spaced and arranged in alphabetical order. All second and subsequent lines should be indented 0.5 inches from the margin.
IEEE citation style
In the IEEE citation style, squares with numbers are used, for instance . The numbers start from one in ascending order. You can only repeat a number if you are referring to a citation that has already mentioned.
The numbers should correspond with the reference list. Any alteration on the in-text citation leads to a revision of the reference list.
For direct quotations, use double quotations marks and include the page number at the end of the quote, for instance, [3 P.12].
The name of the author is mentioned only when it is necessary, for instance, June 
The reference list entails the numbers in squares together with full details about the source.