Library:How to Cite/Using Style Guides

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Using Style Guides

Most citation styles require that you cite the same or similar elements for each material type but differ on things like the order and layout in which the elements appear. So, while the details may be different, the basic pieces of information you'll need to cite will often be the same.

Major Style Guide Access

Some style guides are used extremely frequently. These links will take you to the UBC Library holdings on these major style guides.

  • Print versions for many style guides are available at the Centre Writing and Scholarly Communications on the 3rd floor of the Irving K.Barber Library. Check their hours here
  • If you just need a quick refresher on how to format something in a style you've used before an online guide or tip-sheet might be best.
    • UBCO Library has some great tip sheets for using APA, MLA and Chicago/Turabian styles.
    • OWL from Purdue University has great quick-guides to using APA and MLA styles.
    • APA Electronic Guide is available online for citation reference on electronic resources.
    • Curtin University Library has a guide for Vancouver/Uniform style.

Which style should I use?

Your instructor may assign a specific style for you to follow. If so, use the style consistently throughout your paper - in the layout of the paper (margins, line spacing, cover page), in the footnotes/in-text citations and in your final list of references.

  • If you are not assigned a specific style to use then you are free to choose whichever style you would like to use - again, be consistent.
    • Many programs and disciplines have a preferred style, e.g., Psychology - APA style; History - Chicago style; English - MLA style. If you aren't sure which style to choose it's probably best to use the style most preferred by your program/discipline.

Are some Help-Guides/Sites better than others?

It depends on your needs:

  • If you need to cite a wide variety of sources and material types you probably need a very detailed guide.
    • In this case the official manual for the style is your best bet.
    • For example, MLA, APA, Chicago, and Vancouver/Uniform styles all have official manuals which the Library owns. These are exhaustively detailed and act as the "final say" if you find conflicting advice elsewhere.

I'm looking at the style guide - now what?

If you've never used a style guide before it can be confusing to navigate. The index may be the easiest way to get to the page you need to consult - but first you need to analyze your source and determine which citation elements you'll need to record.

Analyze your sources

Start with authorship:

  • Does the source have an author? Multiple authors? Is the author unknown or pseudonymous? You'll find the rules for formatting all these options in the index under "Author(s)," "Authorship" or similar term.

Check the index

Now look at the format type of your source. Finding the rules for citing different types of sources works the same way as finding out how to cite different types of authors - consult the index.

  • Are you quoting a book? A journal article? A blog entry? A sacred text? A section of a website?
  • Different format types have different elements that must be recorded – so look the format up in the index to see all the pieces of information you need to include in the citation.

Finally, make sure that you look up the rules for formatting your citation both in the text of your paper and in the list of works cited/bibliography.

  • Often the formatting rules are substantially different, e.g., you may find that the rules make you indent your in-text citations differently from how they appear in the bibliography, or the way multiple authors are handled may be very different.