Every English major knows the elements of citation, when used correctly, are key to publication that will advance a career, garner respect from one’s peers, and fatten a paycheck. Unfortunately, there isn't just one writing style that suits all disciplines and not every field of study stresses the value of style the way it’s done when studying the English language. An English major will be the first to advise learning the style that represents the chosen field of study to ensure optimum career success.
While the appropriate style may seem obvious, it pays to verify the required style before even beginning to write the definitive masterpiece, no matter the subject. Writing about teaching children elementary math, for example, might pose a problem. Does one write in the MLA style, which addresses the style required of literature such as educational documents and study guides or does one turn, instead, to the CBE or CSE styles, favored by the scientific community, which includes all things mathematical, even at the elementary-school level?
MLA style is typically used in humanities based courses such as literature, history, and English. This style is used to cite books, journals, articles, websites, and anything else the student uses in their paper. The MLA style is crucial when writing a thesis for a masters degree in history, online or in a classroom setting. A good example is the way in which a book would be cited here at the end of the page in the bibliography.
Author Last Name, Author First Name. Title of Book. Publisher’s City: Publisher’s Name, Date Book was Published.
The best resource for MLA style is The Owl at Purdue. Their website includes every type of source needed to be cited in a paper, including electronic sources and academic resources with examples on each one. MLA Citation Style is another helpful source with examples clearly laid out on the page. Users will also find MLA Style at The Write Source and the MLA website helpful.
One does not need to be enrolled at traditional universities such as Purdue, however, to benefit from a mastery of the MLA style of writing. New and innovative educational institutions, such as the Regis Online University require students to observe traditional rules of style for the various disciplines they offer for study.
There are several resources available for those needing help in Chicago style. One of the better sources is The Chicago Manual of Style Online. The website has a question and answer section, a quick check guide, and examples of citations. There’s also the Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide at Ohio State University and Chicago Style. Be aware that some professors list Chicago style as Turabian Style.
Chicago style looks different from MLA style and the book referenced would appear in the following way.
Author Last Name, Author First Name. Date Book was Published. Title of the Book. Publisher’s City: Name of Publisher.
Then there are the scientific citation styles such as APA, which is used by psychologists and doctors. A good resource is APA Style. This website is part of the official APA website and contains information on citing resources.
A book cited in a paper using APA style would need to appear the following way.
Author Last Name, Author First Name. (Year Book was Published). Title of Book. Publisher’s City: Publisher’s Name.
There’s also CBE or CSE as it‘s now known. This is typically used in research papers written for science related courses. The Council of Science Editors Style is an excellent resource, with examples clearly laid out. Students will find another website helpful, CSE Citations.
The citing of a book in CBE or CSE should look this way:
Author Last Name, Author First Name. Date Book was Published. Publisher’s City (Publisher’s State): Publisher’s Name. p. page numbers used in paper.
While learning a citation style is often a little tricky in the beginning, with a little practice it becomes much easier. Think of it as learning the building blocks of a respected professional publication. Mastery of style means you become an architectural draftsman of the professional language you choose to speak.
After citing enough sources, students are able to stop looking at how to cite each source and do it automatically. The websites listed here are a great way to learn more about the different styles. They include information on citing in footnotes, endnotes, and creating a bibliography or reference page at the end of the paper.