Differences in Citation Styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, Vancouver) | Wordvice

Differences in Citation Styles

At UC Davis, no matter what kind of student you are, you participate in many different classes and activities. Sometimes you may feel lost in the sea of information and experience that the campus has to offer. You may feel like you don’t belong in any of the various social circles of the campus, or that the academic and extracurricular activities you’re involved in don’t match up. Clearly, you’re here to learn, and do so in a healthy and effective way.

The differences in citation styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, Vancouver) are vast. In this article we will focus on the most common styles of citation in the field of Education.

We enjoy discussing differences in citation styles (and writing styles too). We thought this would be a better fit for our blog since it could be used by teachers.

Students, researchers, and even college professors often face a common difficulty when citing sources in their academic writing: how to tell the difference between citation or referencing styles. One of the most important parts of a research document, academic manuscript, or term paper is the bibliography or reference section. Different subject areas, university departments, and academic journals require specific citation styles for in-text citations and reference sections.

This article explores four of the most common referencing and citation styles (APA, MLA, Chicago, and Vancouver) for academia and popular journal publications. It also answers common FAQs that students and researchers have about how to choose the best citation style for their work.

For citations or references in APA, MLA, Vancouver, or Chicago style, use our FREE citation generator.

Differences Between Citation Methods

Before we discuss the differences between the various reference or citation style guides, let’s talk about citation methods. If you refer to a published work, you must provide details so that readers and other researchers can locate and review the original source. Sources can be cited using either endnotes/footnotes or in-text citations. Both styles require a reference list at the end of the document.

  • Footnotes / Endnotes: Endnotes and footnotes are simple notation systems that allow you to use numbers in the body of a text to reference a cited work. The number corresponds to further information or a citation entry found at the end of a manuscript (for endnotes) or at the bottom of the page where the cited reference is mentioned (for footnotes).
  • Reference lists: A reference list gathers all of the works cited within a document at the end of a manuscript. It is required no matter how you cite your sources in your article.

What Is The Correct Citation Style for My Document?

The most important consideration when choosing which citation style to use is the guidelines of the academic journal or the professor or department of your academic field.

Citation Style for College Essays and Dissertations

If you are an undergraduate or graduate student writing a class assignment, use these resources to locate the proper citation style:

  • Class syllabus: Check your class on Canvas, Blackboard, or wherever your syllabus is posted.
  • Class professor: If you are enrolled in a class, email or talk to your professor to confirm your citation style.

If you are a researcher or master’s or PhD student writing a dissertation or thesis, use the following resources:

  • Departmental guidelines: Even within a university, different departments and subjects have different (and very strict) submission guidelines for terminal academic works (thesis or dissertation). For example, Harvard University uses Chicago or MLA style.
  • Thesis advisor: Your first point of contact should be your thesis/dissertation advisor. Follow up with your advisor if there is any ambiguity, such as cross-departmental courses of study (e.g., Biomedical Engineering as part of the Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Sciences).
  • Academic field: Specific citation styles are applied for certain subjects. For example, MLA style is commonly used by writers and students preparing manuscripts in disciplines in the humanities, such as cultural studies, English, literature, and critical theory.

Read about the Best Citation Style for Science Papers

Best Citation Style for Journal Submissions

Academic journals usually have their own specific citation style guidelines. In general, most humanities journals use APA style, while most journals in the sciences use a variation of the Chicago style author-date system. Again, see the “Guide for Authors” page on your target journal’s website to determine which citation style to use. A key difference between citation styles in journals is how they handle citing sources with multiple authors. Some journals prescribe using “et al.” for more than one author or more than three authors. For example, Nature and Science even have their own completely separate citation styles. Read about How to use “et al.” in your reference citation list

Difference Between Citation Styles – FAQs

This table contains frequently asked questions students and researchers have about APA, MLA, Chicago, and Vancouver citation styles and breaks them down into convenient answers authors can use to learn the basics of their specific academic style.   word-image-5595 word-image-5596 word-image-5597 word-image-5598 word-image-5599

Other Helpful Wordvice Citation Resources

The Wordvice Writing & Editing Guide covers many topics related to academic writing, grammar, and formatting.

Our Language Rules articles provide a clear breakdown and examples of rules related to grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and word choice when writing in English.

Our FREE Citation Generator can help you cite any website, book, or journal article source in APA, MLA, Chicago, or Vancouver citation style.

Our Resource Blog has dozens of articles on academic writing and admissions essays.

Our FREE Citation Generator word-image-5600

About Wordvice US

Wordvice provides high-quality English proofreading and editing services.We have helped thousands of researchers, students, writers, and businesses maximize the impact of their writing.As you know that much of the education and academic research is conducted in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. So every academic researcher must be very familiar with different citation styles.. Read more about types of citation pdf and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you differentiate between APA Chicago and MLA citation styles?

When writing up for school or another academic assignment, you will likely be required to use a particular citation style. These are the styles that require you to use certain formatting on your paper or whatever you are writing about. MLA, APA, and Chicago styles are very popular because they are used for many things such as writing term papers, research papers, citations, etc. To help you decide which style to use, you may want to look at the differences between them.

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Are APA and Chicago style the same?

In order to make sure Chicago style and APA style are the same, you must know what the differences in the language are. The main differences in the style are in the use of a comma after “and,” a comma after “and before,” and using a comma to separate items in a series. These differences are decided by the style of the writer, but you must know what the differences are so that you can use the correct style in your work.

We recognize the importance of a well-written paper. Many graduate students struggle to get their ideas down on paper because they don’t know how to format their citations correctly. We have found an infographic that lays out the differences between some commonly used citation styles.

What are the 3 types of citations in APA Style?

Citations can be a part of any written academic assignment. So, what is a citation? Well, it’s a reference to a source of information. The information may be a book, a website, a journal, a lecture, a newspaper, a blog, or any other document that a student has used in their research. The most common type of citation is a reference to a book. Example: “See Chapter 2: A formula for computing the area of a triangle” Citations are very important to your academic success. They are the written record of the information and ideas you have already learned.

You may need to cite sources in order to do any work for your classes. In your research papers and assignments, you should follow a particular style of citation. There are three major styles of citation: APA, MLA, and Chicago. The style you choose depends on your reason for using the source. For example, if you are citing a source for information, you may choose APA. If you are citing a source for ideas, you may choose MLA. If you are citing a source for other sources, you may choose Chicago.


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