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Library Research Tutorial

Citation Formats

For detailed information on reference and in-text citation formatting, visit the NIC Library's Citation Guide page.

Proper citation requires two steps: in-text citations in the body of your paper, and references in your works cited or reference list. 

In-Text Citations

What and how information gets included in the in-text citation and the reference list citation will depend on the citation style you are using and the type of source you are citing.

For example, take a look at an in-text citation to the same source in APA and MLA style:

APA: (Smith, 1998, p. 639)

MLA: (Smith 639)

In APA, you are expected to include the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number if you directly quoting a source. In MLA, you would just include the author’s name and the page number, with no comma.

In Chicago style, you would use a superscript number in your sentence and a footnote to cite your sources. A footnote for the same source referred to above would look like this:

1. John Maynard Smith, "The Origin of Altruism," Nature 393 (1998): 639-40.



Reference list citations for APA, MLA, and Chicago include much of the same information, the author, the date of publication, the title of a work, etc., but the information is presented in slightly different ways. Here is an article cited in each style:


Bernard, R. M., Borokhovski, E., & Tamim, R. M. (2014). Detecting bias in meta-analyses of distance education research: Big pictures we can rely on. Distance Education, 35(3), 271-293.


Bernard, Robert M., et al. "Detecting Bias in Meta-Analyses of Distance Education Research: Big Pictures We Can Rely On." Distance Education, vol. 35, no. 3, 2014, pp. 271-93. Education Research Complete, doi:10.1080/01587919.2015.957433.


Bernard, Robert M., Eugene Borokhovski, and Rana M. Tamim. "Detecting Bias In Meta-Analyses Of Distance Education Research: Big Pictures We Can Rely On," Distance Education 35, no. 3 (2014): 271-293, accessed April 8, 2015,

Be certain to check assignment guidelines for which style you should be using!