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BC3 Library: Citing

Style Guides and When to Cite

Style Guides show you how to format a document and cite sources. There are many different style guides, The citation style usually depends on the academic discipline involved. For example:

  • MLA (Modern Language Association) is typically used by the Humanities 
  • APA (American Psychological Association)  often is used by Education, Psychology, and Business
  • Chicago/Turabian (Professor Turabian, University of Chicago) is generally used by History and some of the Fine Arts

Bottom line: Check with your professor to make sure you use the style required for that class. And whatever style you choose, BE CONSISTENT!

Video: Why Multiple Styles

Citing or documenting the sources used in your research serves three purposes:

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


If you cite a source in your bibliography simply with a URL like this:

it does technically indicate where you found it, and someone might be able to find it again. But:

  • What if the URL changes?
  • What if your reader doesn't have access to the BC3 Library's databases? (This is the URL to the PDF view of a journal article in the database ProQuest Science Journals.)

A good citation makes it easy for the reader to figure out the who, what, when, and where of the source like this:


To avoid plagiarism, you need to cite the ideas and words that you borrow from others, but knowing precisely what to cite (and when) is not always as straightforward as it sounds. Here are some resources to help you understand what you need to cite.

Video: Avoiding Plagiarism: When Should I Cite a Source?






Video: How to Cite Sources: A Comment on Common Knowledge






Purdue OWL Graphic: Should I Cite This?

Should I cite this infographic




Formatting and Citing in MLA, APA and Chicago/Turabian

Video: MLA Citation Style


Video: The Basics of MLA In-Text Citations


MLA Style Web Resources

Purdue OWL Resources on MLA Style

MLA Style Citation Generators


Video: How to Cite in Chicago/Turabian Style: A Three-Minute Tutorial

Video: Chicago Author-Date Citation Style


Chicago Style Web Resources

Turabian Style Web Resources

Purdue OWL Resources on Chicago Style

Citation Generators

Zotero Citation Management Tool

"Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself."

FREE?   Yes


  • MLA (Modern Language Association)
  • APA (American Psychological Associtation)
  • Chicago
  • Turabian


  • Reference Management Application in addition to citation creator
  • As a plug-in to your browser, use Zotero to collection resources and citations directly from websites by clicking on the Zotero icon in your toolbar
  • Save full text documents in your Zotero account
  • Download Zotero Standalone and select a plugin to work with Chrome, Safari, Word, or Google Docs


EasyBib citation generator

"A free browser-based tool for creating citations and entire bibliographies. Users can input references in order to create automated citations and make a bibliography. Users also have options to manually supply reference information or search EasyBib for their reference to create an automated citation."


  • MLA is free, other citation styles are not free


  • MLA is available for free
  • APA, Harvard, Chicago, and more require a premium membership


  • Will look up and generate citation

KnightCite citation generator

"Created by the Hekman Library of Calvin College as a reliable and efficient means of citing sources for its students. The generator is provided free of service and there is an option to create an account so you have more access privileges such as saving citations for later and alphabetizing them."


FREE?  Yes


  • MLA, APA, Chicago


  • You can create a free account to get additional features like saving and organizing citations
  • Requires you to fill in all information for your source


  • Citation creation can be done for free in the major styles.
  • A BibMe Pro plan is available with additional features such as plagiarism checking


  • MLA, APA, Chicago


  • Will look up and generate citation based upon website, book title, etc. using WorldCat
  • Includes a parenthetical citation feature