Different Style Guides and Citation Formats Overview
NOTE: All citation styles are updated every few years, which include changes in punctuation and other stylistic changes. As of January 2020 the most current styles are MLA 8th Edition, APA 7th Edition, Chicago 17th Edition.
There are several different citation styles for different academic disciplines and the most common ones at school are the MLA, Chicago, and APA citation styles.
Each citation style is used for specific academic disciplines (see the chart below).
Each citation style is made up of elements such as title, author, date of publication, the publishing company, etc. Each style also has rules for allowing and using footnotes and in-text citations.
MLA (Modern Language Association)
English, Jewish Studies, World Languages
History, Fine Arts
APA (American Psychological Association)
Education, Social, Medical, Behavioral, and Physical Sciences
The order of the elements, the way in which each element is printed (in quotes, underlined, in italics), and the rules for footnotes and in-text citations reflects the elements that have priority for the discipline. For example, the date of the publication comes later in the MLA style used for the humanities whereas, the date comes immediately after the author's name in the APA style, which is used for science. We can therefore assume the currency of the publication is of more concern for research in the sciences than in the humanities. Chicago, which is used for history, allows footnotes in place of in-text citations as this helps the reader focus on the argument being made from multiple primary sources and reduces distractions when reading the document. APA, which is used more for science, discourages the use of footnotes, preferring a list of references at the end of the document.
Be sure to ask your teacher which citation style to use for your research paper.