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Citation Style Guide: MLA, APA, & Chicago: Home

Online Citation Creators


What are Citations?

Citations are references to sources in order to give credit to the author or creator for their work. Citations are essential when doing research and if left out of your final paper or project, the result would be plagiarism ("Citations," n.d., para.1). There are a many citation styles out there but in this guide we focus on the three main ones you're likely to encounter in university: MLA, APA, & Chicago. Each style provides the same information but in different formats and is used by certain fields of study.

MLA : Liberal arts & humanities

APA: Social Sciences, business, nursing

Chicago: Literature, history, social sciences & fine arts "Why are there Different Citation Styles," n.d., para. 2)

(Your professor will likely inform you of which one you need to use for their class)

Plagiarism is when one presents another person’s ideas or content (pictures, video, text, research etc.) as his or her own("Plagiarism," n.d., para.2). Plagiarism can occur either intentionally or unintentionally but in the end your intentions often do not matter, only the result. Common types of plagiarism include:


Direct plagiarism is the word-for-word transcription of a section of someone else’s work, without attribution and without quotation marks. The deliberate plagiarism of someone else's work is unethical, academically dishonest, and grounds for disciplinary actions, including expulsion("The Common Types," n.d., para. 2). 


"Self-plagiarism occurs when a student submits his or her own previous work, or mixes parts of previous works, without permission from all professors involved. For example, it would be unacceptable to incorporate part of a term paper you wrote in high school into a paper assigned in a college course. Self-plagiarism also applies to submitting the same piece of work for assignments in different classes without previous permission from both professors"("The Common Types," n.d., para. 3).


"Mosaic Plagiarism occurs when a student borrows phrases from a source without using quotation marks, or finds synonyms for the author’s language while keeping to the same general structure and meaning of the original. Sometimes called “patch writing,” this kind of paraphrasing, whether intentional or not, is academically dishonest and punishable – even if you footnote your source!" ("The Common Types," n.d., para. 4).


"Accidental plagiarism occurs when a person neglects to cite their sources, or misquotes their sources, or unintentionally paraphrases a source by using similar words, groups of words, and/or sentence structure without attribution. (See example for mosaic plagiarism.) Students must learn how to cite their sources and to take careful and accurate notes when doing research. (See the Note-Taking section on the Avoiding Plagiarism page.) Lack of intent does not absolve the student of responsibility for plagiarism. Cases of accidental plagiarism are taken as seriously as any other plagiarism and are subject to the same range of consequences as other types of plagiarism"("The Common Types," n.d., para. 5).


Citations: Overview (n.d.). Retrieved from:

This college writing center site provides information on what a citation is, how to cite APA style and things to consider when using sources.

Plagiarism & academic dishonesty. (n.d.). Retrieved from 

The official MLA site provides important information on the meaning of plagiarism, examples and best practices.

The common types of plagiarism (n.d.). Retrieved from 


Bowdoin College provides a detailed description of common types of plagiarism. All types can be avoided by properly citing sources.

Why are there different citation styles?. (n.d.) Retrieved from

This site explains why there are different styles and how they differ in style and the fields they're used in. They also offer more discussion on Chicago style's footnotes.