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Citation Guides

About Style Guides

Style guides are most often referenced at a student level for properly citing research sources, but they also include comprehensive instructions on how to format, and even write, a research project. From the font type and size, to the grammatical style and tone of voice used, each style guide is designed so that each paper written will have the same look and "feel" to it for a sense of consistency and professionalism within its field. Writing styles are similar to corporate brands in the sense that, when used properly, it is possible to tell at a glance which style is used, just as a single glance can usually determine if a smart device is an Apple or an Android.

This guide includes a brief overview of each of the styles used at the University of Mary, including the basics of formatting a project and examples of how to cite a variety of source types. For additional help beyond what this guide provides, you can find more information at each of the style guides' official websites, linked below. You can also ask for help at the library by visiting the reference desk in-person, calling the library, or booking a Reference Appointment with our Reference Librarian for one-on-one assistance.

Choosing A Style

Choosing the right style guide for your project usually depends on which academic discipline you are writing for, though it is possible for a single discipline to make use of several styles. Each professor usually will have a specific style that they prefer (or require) for any projects in their class, so be sure to ask them which you should use.

Generally speaking, the citation styles are used by the following academic disciplines:

  • AMA style (American Medical Association) is often used in the Medical fields. At UMary, it is primarily used in Physical Therapy.

  • APA style (American Psychological Association) is most often used by Education and Behavioral Sciences, Nursing, Business, and more.

  • Chicago style (University of Chicago) is generally used by History and many of the Fine Arts.

  • MLA style (Modern Language Association) is typically used in Literature studies.

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

Additional Resources

This guide is designed to bring the essential basics for citing your sources and formatting your research projects to your fingertips and reduce the time spent searching through the official handbooks. However, this of course means that there is a great deal more to each style than can be covered here! If you find that you need additional assistance beyond what this guide provides, there are several resources you can consult:

  • Consult the official style handbook, copies of which are available for checkout or reference at the library. The official website for each style guide is also linked above under "Choosing a Style," each of which provides a variety of useful tools for learning about the style.

  • Look for other guides on the internet, such as the Purdue Owl or Easy Bib. As with anything on the internet, however, remember to be cautious when taking what you see at face value, and verify your sources.

  • Visit the Writing Center. Online students can access the Writing Center by sending an email to If submitting via an email, be sure to attach information about the assignment and the rough draft on which you are seeking feedback.

  • Ask a librarian! Welder Library staff are available to help you find and document the resources you need to produce your best work. Sign up for a one-on-one reference appointment via the UMary One Stop Shop for Student Services.

Also, please let us know via email if there is anything we can do to improve this guide by adding or changing the information provided. We are constantly working to update and improve our LibGuides, and want to hear from you about what you need.

AMA Manual of Style

The AMA Manual of Style is a must-have resource for anyone involved in medical, health, and scientific publishing. Written by an expert committee of JAMA Network editors, this latest edition addresses issues that face authors, editors, and publishers in the digital age. Extensive updates are included in the References chapter, with examples of how to cite digital publications, preprints, databases, data repositories, podcasts, apps and interactive games, and social media. The Usage chapter has been revised to bring the manual up-to-date on word choice, especially in writing about individuals with diseases or conditions and from various socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and sexual orientation populations. The answer to nearly any issue facing a writer or editor in medicine, health care, and related disciplines can be found in the 11th edition of the AMA Manual of Style.

APA Publication Manual, 7th Edition

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition is the style manual of choice for writers, researchers, editors, students, and educators in the social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, nursing, communications, education, business, engineering, and other fields.
Known for its authoritative, easy-to-use reference and citation system, the Publication Manual also offers guidance on choosing the headings, tables, figures, language, and tone that will result in powerful, concise, and elegant scholarly communication. It guides users through the scholarly writing process--from the ethics of authorship to reporting research through publication.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition

This seventeenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style has been prepared with an eye toward how we find, create, and cite information that readers are as likely to access from their pockets as from a bookshelf. The citation chapters reflect the ever-expanding universe of electronic sources--including social media posts and comments, private messages, and app content--and also offer updated guidelines on such issues as DOIs, time stamps, and e-book locators. This edition continues to reflect expert insights gathered from Chicago's own staff and from an advisory board of publishing experts from across the profession.

MLA Handbook, 9th Edition

Relied on by generations of writers, the MLA Handbook is published by the Modern Language Association and is the only official, authorized book on MLA style. The new, ninth edition builds on the MLA's unique approach to documenting sources using a template of core elements―facts, common to most sources, like author, title, and publication date―that allows writers to cite any type of work, from books, e-books, and journal articles in databases to song lyrics, online images, social media posts, dissertations, and more. With this focus on source evaluation as the cornerstone of citation, MLA style promotes the skills of information and digital literacy so crucial today.