Skip to Main Content
university logo

University Library

Archived Writing & Citing (APA, MLA etc.)

Self-help for creating citations and references for research papers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Style Manual?

A handbook or guide that illustrates the accepted format for organizing your papers (headings, structure, etc.) and citing your sources (references) in term papers, theses, articles, etc.


Why should you cite your sources?

One reason is that your professor expects you to (so you won't be accused of plagiarism).  More importantly, citing your sources gives credit to the work and ideas of others and shows that you have done research using authoritative sources. Also, bibliographies act as further reading lists and help guide the reader of your paper to additional sources on that particular topic.


What is a Bibliography?

A list of sources (books, articles, etc.) used or considered by an author in preparing a particular work.   Depending on the Style Manual you are using, the bibliography might also be called the "reference list" or "works cited"


What is the difference between a source, a citation, and a reference?

While these terms have similar meanings and are sometimes used interchangeably, there are differences between them.

  • A source is an item/material that you use in your research, such as a book, article, or webpage. For example, your professor may ask you to use at least five sources in your paper.
  • A citation is a notation within the body of your paper that lets the reader know where the information is coming from and points them to the full reference.
  • A reference is the full information about a source at the end of your paper.


Which style should you use?

In many cases, your professor will tell you which style they prefer. If they don't, here's a general break down:


Style Subjects
AAA Anthropology
ACS Chemistry
APA Business, Education, Psychology, and other Social Sciences
ASA Sociology 

Chicago/Turabian (Notes-Bib Style)

Literature, History, and the Arts
Chicago/Turabian (Author-Date System) Physical, Natural, and Social Sciences
CSE Biology
MLA Literature, Arts and the Humanities

    (Adapted from the Arkansas State Univ. Library Citation Guide)




John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300