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What are Citation Styles and Style Guides?

Citation styles are part of style guides. Style guides are sets of standards for the writing, formatting, and design of documents, like term papers, essays, newspaper articles, books, and websites. A standard style ensures consistency within documents and across multiple documents, providing convenient structure for both readers and writers.

Citation styles dictate how sources are cited within the text of a document (with parenthetical citations, footnotes, or endnotes), and how those citations are formatted in the document and in the citation list (commonly referred to as a Works Cited page or Bibliography). Most citations, regardless of the style, contain the same pieces of information, such as: article/book title, author information, publisher information, and DOI/link to online resource. 

On this LibGuide, you'll find a brief description of the main style guides used at SMUMN: APA, Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), and MLA. If you need more information on any of these guides or how to use them, please contact the library or use the resources linked on this page (in the left column).

Citing Your Sources

Why cite your sources?

  • To give credit to authors/researchers/writers and ideas that are not your own
  • Using high quality sources helps support your argument
  • To allow readers/researchers to locate the sources you used
  • To maintain academic integrity and avoid academic dishonesty and plagarism

When in doubt, cite!

  • If you read it and use the idea or a quote, cite it
  • If it is in a research paper, cite it
  • If it is in a reflection paper, cite it
  • If you are using past research, cite it

When in doubt, cite!

Citing properly requires:

1. An in-text citation

When you use the work of another person, you must make note of this in the text. Do this by including an in-text citation which gives a brief reference and helps the reader locate the full citation that you'll include as part of your References list.

2. A list of works referenced

The last page of your paper is typically a list of resources you used/utilized/consulted.


Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's Winona campus has a writing studio with tutors available to help you improve your writing. One facet of excellent academic writing is properly formatting papers and citing sources using a citation style such as APA, MLA, or Chicago Manual of Style.

Find the Writing Center online here.

The Excelsior OWL from Excelsior College is designed to provide support for writers as they begin the process of writing for college and as they transition to writing outside of their introductory writing classes or programs.

In addition to extensive citation support, they offer a wide variety of interactive multimedia activities, quizzes, videos, interactive PDFs, and games – all designed to help writers understand important concepts about writing.