Citations and references

January 6, 2009

Formal documents, such as scientific papers, theses and other university assignments, require the author to cite their reference sources in the text and to include them in a reference list (or bibliography or similar) at the end of each chapter or at the end of the document. Each type of writing and each institution has its own rules for how this is done, so make sure you follow the rules you’ve been given.

There are several citation/referencing methods. Some of the better-known ones are:

There are also others such as APA, Vancouver, Chicago etc. (For a list of many, see

There’s also some software out there that makes creating a reference list relatively painless. Word 2007 has its own, and there are some well-known ones such as EndNote that have been around for years.

More recently, some citation/reference software is now available online (and free for limited use), so check out these too:

Zotero looks particularly interesting as it’s a Firefox extension that can grab the details from online libraries and the like, and store them in the one place. The reason it can do this is that libraries have been using a common method of controlling bibliographic data for YEARS. Long before XML was even thought of, libraries had been exchanging catalog information using MARC and a standard called Z39.50, and using Dublin Core metadata naming conventions.  (Ah! Memories of my years working as a librarian, and for a library software company that had to be able to import and export MARC-compatible catalog records.)

No doubt there are many more online and installed software applications for references and citations, but this should be a good start if you’re not sure where to begin.

One comment

  1. Hi,

    My name is Nathan Grimm from http://www.GuideToOnlineSchools.com. We recently published a detailed list of style guide resources for the MLA, APA, Chicago, and CSE styles: http://www.guidetoonlineschools.com/tips-and-tools/mla-apa-chicago-cse. It includes resources written by universities, general online guides, and free works cited generators. It is an excellent tool for any student because it links to over 70 of the best resources on the internet.

    I think the visitors to your website will find a link to this resource useful. Also, I would be happy to improve the guide based on your feedback.

    Thank you for your time.

    Nathan Grimm
    Program Manager – Reach Network
    (425) 605-8898
    123 Lake Street S Ste B-1
    Kirkland, WA 98033

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