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This guide contains information and resources on MLA, APA, Chicago, and IEEE citation styles.

What is a citation and a citation style?

A citation is a way of referencing the works you utilized to support your research. Typically, a citation includes the author's name, date, location of publication, journal title, or DOI (Digital Object Identifier).

A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting.

Why do I need to cite my sources?

Citing your sources serves three important purposes:

  1. It gives proper credit to the authors of the words or ideas that you incorporated into your paper.
  2. It allows those who are reading your work to locate your sources, in order to learn more about the ideas that you include in your paper.
  3. Citing your sources consistently and accurately helps you avoid committing plagiarism in your writing.

Which citation style do I use?

There are dozens of citation styles available to use. The most commonly used at Cape Cod Community College are MLA, APA, Chicago and IEEE styles. The choice of style is often determined by academic discipline:

  1. MLA (Modern Language Association) is used by the Humanities (English/Language and Literature, Business, etc)
  2. APA (American Psychological Association) is used by Psychology and the Health Sciences.
  3. Chicago is used by History.
  4. IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is used by Engineering

Always check with your professor to determine which citation style they want you to use for your papers!

For more detailed information and resources about the different styles as well as how to cite using the formats, click the links below:

This information is adapted from the University of Pittsburgh Citation Styles Guide and University of Nebraska Kearney Identifying Part of a Citation Guide.


What is a citation generator?

A citation generator is a tool available online that takes the bibliographic information (entered by you) and creates a citation for you to use in your papers. In a perfect world, the tool will take the entered information and properly organize and format the information into the proper style. There are hundreds of generators available online both for free and with paid subscriptions. Some you may have heard of: EasyBib, Grammarly, MyBib, or Citation Machine.

While these are great tools to use, they can still make mistakes. Always check generated citations to make they they are correct!

The Wilkens Library provides a citation tool (NoodleTools) at no cost to you! NoodleTools supports MLA, APA, and Chicago styles at this time. You can use the tool to create your bibliographies/works cited page as well as plan and organize your papers.

For more information check out our NoodleTools page.