Breaking Down Common Academic Citation Styles: MLA, APA, and Chicago

When you first start writing a thesis, dissertation, or article for a peer-reviewed journal, you will come across a lot of different writing styles, formats, fonts, and citation styles. Apart from finding humanities, arts, or even crypto currency research topics, there are a lot more thing that is important in composing a research paper. Academic writing varies from other types of writing in that it frequently adheres to a specific structure and makes use of proper writing, grammar, and vocabulary.

If you don’t understand the various scholarly content and style of citation, a scholarly work or manuscript won’t make any sense. These are significant because referencing is an essential component of academic writing. When you cite sources, it immediately helps the reader understand what you’re saying and gives them confidence in the scope and complexity of your work even while ensuring that you aren’t stealing their ideas or taking credit for their work.

Additionally, it is important to understand that academic writing can use a variety of referencing styles. Every institution has its style. The information about the original author(s) that must be included, the order in which it must be presented, and the necessary punctuation are all determined by the style. In this blog, the writer from the dissertation writing help service will go through the three most popular citation formats for academic writing APA, Chicago, and MLA. Let us first define what the term “citation” means.

What is a citation in academic writing?

Citations are simply references to any research or source that you used for your study, to put it another way. These are useful to discuss definitions, presumptions, the study’s scope, or the findings of a previous study that served as inspiration for the current one. This is how to cite dissertation in research work. Citations are a useful tool for avoiding plagiarism because they allow you to give credit where credit is due to researchers, authors, and sources that have assisted you in your research. Since plagiarism means using someone else’s words and marking their own (thesiswritinghelp, 2022). Your teacher reads your journals every day and can easily spot mistakes in your writing (Wilhoit, 1994).

What is the purpose of citing sources?

To avoid plagiarism, citing sources is the most obvious reason. We can avoid stealing ideas that weren’t our own by noting where they originated. But citing sources to support our claims as authors and to participate in the ongoing scholarly discussion between authors and researchers is just as crucial. Citing sources also informs readers of the source of a specific idea and directs them to that source for additional research.

When citing sources within a dissertation (in-text) as well as at the end of it, each scholarly content and style of citation has its different way of doing so (reference page or works cited). The characteristics of each style are determined by the values of the fields which use them. Understanding the reason behind these characteristics reveals a lot about specific disciplines and the benefits of having various systems.

What is a citation style?

A sentence structure and citation style specify how references or citations should be included, structured, and punctuated in a dissertation, thesis, or research paper. Journals, associations, and publishers can establish and define these styles.

Depending on the field of study we are writing for, we can also choose which citation style to use in a specific paper. The citation format can also be chosen according to the publication guidelines of your chosen journal. You should understand the following two fundamental methods for citations before delving into the various citation styles.

  • In-text citations should be accompanied by a reference list at the end of the dissertation or paper.
  • A bibliography and endnotes are included with the thesis or paper’s conclusion.

What Is The Various Citation Style Guide?

In academic writing, there are numerous citation styles. However, before deciding on a citation style, one should review the citation style guide and discuss with their professor about format and structure that must be followed. The following are some examples of common citation styles:

1.   The Apa Citation Style

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) style is one of the formats used to document sources. For citing sources in the social and behavioral sciences, the APA style is particularly common. This style was initially only used in psychology and the social sciences, but it is now widely used by a wider audience.

An APA style citation is one that you may have seen in a study that lists the references with the author and date enclosed in parenthesis. Visit the American Psychological Association’s official website to learn more about the APA style. The APA format is divided into two sections:

  • In-text citation
  • Reference list entry

Note: See the examples below for citing Diwaker Gupta’s article “What is a good first programming language? ” in APA citation style:

In-text citation:

(Gupta, 2004)

However, the author’s last name, first name initial, date, title, location, and publisher’s name must be provided.


Gupta, D. (2004). What is a good first programming language? XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students, 10(4), 7–7.


  • When citing a print book, you must include the publisher’s address according to the APA Manual, 6th edition. For publishers based in the United States, including the city and state; for publishers based elsewhere, including the city and country.
  • You don’t have to include the publisher’s location or the databases where you found it in the 7th edition of the APA manual.

2.   The Chicago Citation Style

The University of Chicago first developed and published the Chicago Style Manual, also known as the Turabian style, in 1906. It was primarily written as a reference for authors, copywriters, editors, publishers, and other professionals who work with the written word. Other disciplines make use of it as well.

The Author-Date System and the Notes-Bibliography System are the two Chicago Manual Styles. The Author-Date System is frequently applied in the natural, physical, and social sciences, whereas the Notes-Bibliography System is more frequently used in history, literature, and the arts.

Note: See the examples below for citing Diwaker Gupta’s article “What is a good first programming language? ” in Chicago citation style:

In-text citation:

(Gupta 2004, 7)


Gupta, Diwaker. “What Is a Good First Programming Language?” XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students 10, no. 4 (2004): 7–7.

3.   The MLA Citation Style

Modern Language Association (MLA) is one of the most popular and widely used citation and referencing styles in academic writing, and it is one of the most commonly used styles to cite sources in cultural studies, language arts, and other humanities disciplines. The most recent edition of the MLA handbook, the 9th edition, provides numerous examples of the standard Sentence structure and citation style of MLA papers, in-text citations, and the Cited  Works page.

Note: See the examples below for citing Diwaker Gupta’s article “What is a good first programming language? ” in MLA citation  style:

In-text citation:

(Gupta 7)


Gupta, Diwaker. “What Is a Good First Programming Language?” XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students, vol. 10, no. 4, 2004, pp. 7–7.,


If you use references from more than one work by the same author, you must include the title of the publication you are referring to. You are free to use a short form. In the bibliography, you will list all of your references alphabetically by author’s last name. The author’s full name, the book’s title, the publisher, the year, and the location of publication must all be included.

Final Thoughts

The three most common citation styles are MLA, APA, and Chicago. These are methods for acknowledging the informational, literary, and visual resources that we have borrowed from. Citing sources may appear to be unnecessary, but it is a necessary and ethical component of college writing. When providing references, remember to use proper spelling and punctuation. Certain punctuation styles are required by each style. So, before you begin, it is always a good idea to check references and ask any questions you may have. Hopefully, with the academic citation style example you will cite your resources correctly.


What are the most common academic citation styles?

APA Style is the most widely used citation style in the behavioral and social sciences. MLA is the second most widely used style, primarily in the humanities. In the humanities, particularly history, the Chicago notes and reference list style is popular. In the sciences, the Chicago author-date style is commonly used.

What are the 3 key rules of academic citation?

Below are the most common academic citation style example rules:

  • Whenever possible, mention the author’s name.
  • For journals or articles, you should state the year of publication or, if appropriate, a more precise date.
  • Include the piece’s title; it can be a book’s or website’s title, or the title of an article from a journal.

What are the similarities and differences between APA and Chicago style MLA style?

The main differences between  APA, MLA, and Chicago formats are in the creation of the in-text citations, title page, and reference lists. While APA prefers to cite sources using the author-date format, MLA prefers to use the author-page number format. There are two citation styles available in Chicago: notes-bibliography and author-date.

What font and style do academic essays use in APA Chicago and MLA?

The paper should be double-spaced in APA, Chicago, and MLA formats. The font should be “Times New Roman” in 12-point size. Each side should have a one-inch margin. The sources used are listed alphabetically by the author’s surname.

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