Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

How to Make a Citation in MLA, APA, and Chicago/Turabian


In high school, college and even your career, knowing how to make a citation within your writing is important. The citation lets the reader know where you found the information and where they can find the information. It also makes it clear that these aren’t your thoughts. Citation is all about giving credit where credit is due.

Student making a citation in MLA, APA and Chicago/Turabian

Citation is All About Style

Whether it’s your clothes, your attitude or even your car, we all have our own different style. Writing isn’t any different. Every style has its own different format and way to set up citations. Citations can also come in two formats: in-text citations and references. The in-text citation gives the reader an idea where to find the information in the references, while the references tell the reader where to find the information in the world. So, the in-text citation answers who and where. But, the reference citations answer who, what, where, when and sometimes, in the case of an annotated bibliography, why. But enough talk, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty for the top three styles: APA, MLA and Chicago/Turabian.

Citations in APA

American Psychological Association writing style is broken down into several different subcategories that include books, websites, manuals, images, social media, interviews and even videos. Each different one has a slightly different set up. However, the information you’ll need includes:

  • Author(s)
  • Publication year
  • Title of work in italics
  • Pages, volumes
  • Location (this could be a URL)
  • Publisher

Step 1: In-Text Citation

APA uses the author-date method for in-text citations or parenthetical citations. You’ll include the author’s last name and date of publication, possibly page numbers for direct quotes. These look like:

  • Quote:

    (Davey, 2010, p. 33)

  • Paraphrase:

    (Davey, 2010)

Step 2: Reference List Citation

The reference list citations will include all the information that is necessary to find the source, whether it’s in print, electronic or another source. Electronic sources will include a website, while print sources will have a publisher. Examples include:

  • Book:

    Cottrell, S. (2013). The study skills handbook (5th ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Website:

    Coyne, R.P. (2017, January 16). How and when to reference. Retrieved from https://www.howandwhentoreference.com

MLA Citations

The MLA format identifies nine different core elements that you can include in citations. Not all sources will have the information you need, like a picture source might not have a publisher. However, this offers you an overall view of what you need.

  • Author(s)
  • Title
  • Container title
  • Contributors
  • Version
  • Number
  • Publisher
  • Publication date
  • Location

Step 1: Parenthetical Citations

In the text, you aren’t going to need all this information. MLA only requires you to know the author’s last name and page number. While the author’s name can be found in the sentence, the page numbers for the quote will always be in parentheses.

      • Quote or Paraphrase:

        (Burke 3)

      • In-Text:

        Kenneth Burke described humans through animals (3).

Step 2: Works Cited Citations

Much like APA, the works cited references will vary based on the source type. The MLA breaks references citation differently whether they are a book, magazine, the bible, a PDF, picture, etc. For comparison sake, check out examples of a book and website.

      • Book:

        Henley, Patricia. The Hummingbird House. MacMurray, 1999.

      • Website:

        The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl. Accessed 13 Dec. 2018.

Chicago Manual of Style

The Chicago style is unique in that you might choose the Chicago style or Turabian. The Turabian style is a more student friendly version. However, citations for either are similar

      • Author(s)
      • Title
      • Publisher information
      • Year of publication
      • Location (URL if online)

Step 1: Text Citations

Chicago or Turabian allow you to create your citations one of two ways. You might choose to use the author-date like APA or you might use notes. Notes can be either endnotes or footnotes.

      • Author-date:

        (Kerouac 1958, 128)

      • Notes:

        1.  Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums (New York: Viking Press, 1958), 128.

Step 2: Bibliography Citations

You bib in Chicago and Turabian style will try to provide as much information as it can about your source. These styles break out a different format for all different types of sources like books, web sources, lectures and, even, unpublished materials. An example citation looks like:

  • Book:

    Kerouac, Jack. The Dharma Bums. New York: Viking Press, 1958.

  • Website:

    Heck, Jr., Richard G. “About the Philosophical Gourmet Report.” Last modified August 5, 2016. http://rgheck.frege.org/philosophy/aboutpgr.php.

How to Choose

You know how to set them up. Learn which one you should use.

      • APA is for the sciences. It covers social science, psychology and human services, to name a few. If you are writing a psychology term paper, this might be your style.
      • MLA is for you humanities, language and literature buffs. It can also include some sciences. An English paper in high school might use MLA.
      • Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS, CMS, Chicago)/Turabian can cover humanities and sciences. Turabian is for students, while Chicago is for professionals.

Getting It Perfect

When it comes to citations, there are a lot of different formats and sources. Figuring out how to cite your source can be scary. But as long as you know the basics, you can breathe a little easier.

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About the author

Jennifer Betts

Jennifer Betts is a diverse educational writer who has been published in multiple online forums. She also works part time as a substitute teacher with seven different school districts. Building on skills gained from a brother and son with learning disabilities, she has been a tutor and mentor for disadvantaged children for more than 20 years. Interested in learning more about Jennifer Betts, just ask.

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