Citation and Documentation

Across academic fields, citation and documentation is a fundamental element of academic writing. As so much of academic work is built on the ideas of others, citation and documentation serves as a system of representing this “conversation” by clearly displaying which ideas were contributed by others and which ideas are original to the writer. Furthermore, citation and documentation styles (like MLA or Chicago) allow readers to find information about sources in easy, quick, and reader-friendly ways. For more information about why citation systems are so important, visit the University of North Carolina Writing Center’s website.

Although different citation styles document sources in different ways, there are important types of information that need to be documented in academic writing: direction quotations, paraphrasing, author-specific words or terminology, historic or statistical facts, graphs and diagrams, and mentioned sources. Below are helpful links to the most common citation style guide that include how to create reference lists, in-text citations (or footnotes), and the basics of formatting within each style.

Helpful Links:

APA: the style and citation system created by the American Psychological Association.

ASA: the style and citation system created by the American Sociological Association.

Chicago: a style and citation system published by the University of Chicago that is typically used in history, religion, and other humanities and social science departments.

MLA: the style and citation system by the Modern Language Association is typically used in English departments.