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Writing Your Manuscript: Citation Styles

What is Citation Style?

 A citation (or reference) is bibliographic data (title, author, etc.) about a document organized in an academically preferred or standardized format (citation style). The bibliographic data of the source (document) is collected for referential or evidential purposes.

Modern software programs can cite or arrange bibliographic data via automated processes, removing the need to do so by direct input. A software program that generates or organizes bibliographic data according to preferred citation style is called a citation reference manager

Citation Style is determined by the type or subject of a paper, journal or publication preference, workplace or institutional standards, etc. For example: in the biomedical sciences, the APA and Vancouver styles are preferred. In the Humanities, the MLA style is preferred.

Citation Styles focus on in-text citations and reference and bibliography lists. They may also focus on manuscript formatting and structuring, over all. This will include guidelines such as presenting evidence, statistics, charts, etc.

Types of Citation Styles

APA is an acronym for the American Psychological Association.

APA Style originated in 1929. Its rules and guidelines--designed for clarity of identifying information and ease of access to information--are cataloged in Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, a frequently updated guidebook used by students, professionals and editors alike.

Examples of Information included in the Publication
  • Types of publications (electronic, print)
  • The Mechanics of style (punctuation, spellings, capitalizations, etc.)
  • Manuscript structure (format) and content (arrangement of headings)
  • Reference (citation) examples

Example of bibliographic Citation

Author, A. (date). Title of document [Format description]. Retrieved from http://xxxxxxxxx

The in-text citation includes the author and date (Author, date), as with any other APA Style citation.

Example: After the intervention, children increased in the number of books read per week (Smith & Wexwood, 2010). 


Preferred by the Humanities, there are two types of references used in The Chicago Style Guide: Notes and Bibliography AND Author-Date.


1. Zadie Smith, Swing Time (New York: Penguin Press, 2016), 315–16.

2. Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), 12.

Shortened notes
  1. Smith, Swing Time, 320.
  2. Grazer and Fishman, Curious Mind, 37.

 EXAMPLE: Book Citation (in bibliographic list according to alphabetical order)

The author-date system is more common in the sciences and social sciences. In this system, sources are briefly cited in the text, usually in parentheses, by author’s last name and year of publication. Each in-text citation matches up with an entry in a reference list, where full bibliographic information is provided.

EXAMPLEIn-text citations

For more on the Chicago Style:

The Council of Science Editors (CSE), formerly known as the Council of Biology Editors (CBE), use in-text citations in the name-year format. The bibliography lists the sources alphabetically at the end of the research paper.

Here is an example of the name-year format:

(McMillan et al., 2008).

The Modern Language Association (MLA) is the most common formatting style. It is preferred standard for the Humanities and social sciences.

MLA Style establishes standards of written communication concerning:

  • formatting and page layout
  • stylistic technicalities (e.g. abbreviations, footnotes, quotations)
  • citing sources
  • and preparing a manuscript for publication in certain disciplines.

In-text citation follows the author-page format.


  • Romantic poetry is characterized by the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" (Wordsworth 263)
  • Wordsworth extensively explored the role of emotion in the creative process (263).


Example of Works Cited (bibliography)
  • Burke, Kenneth. Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method. University of California Press, 1966. (Book with single author)

  • Nordhaus, William D. "After Kyoto: Alternative Mechanisms to Control Global Warming." American Economics Review, vol. 96, no. 2, 2006, pp. 31-34. (Journal)

The Vancouver Style is formally known as Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals (ICMJE Recommendations). It was developed in Vancouver in 1978 by editors of medical journals and well over 1,000 medical journals (including ICMJE members BMJ, CMAJ, JAMA & NEJM) use this style. 



Book, personal author(s):

Buckingham L. Molecular diagnostics: fundamentals, methods and clinical applications. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis; c2012.

Book or pamphlet, organization as both author and publisher:

 College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario. Standards of practice. Toronto: The College; 2011.


For more information

Michener Institute's Vancouver Style Reference Guide.

Vancouver Style Guide PDF (see attached)

Citation Resources

Parts of a Citation