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TRU Citation Guides

View all the TRU Library Citation guides in one handy location

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What is Citation?

When you are writing an academic paper, you will need to use outside sources (such as books, scholarly articles, or newspapers)  to support your ideas. Citing your sources in your paper is a primary tool in avoiding plagiarism; it also lends more weight to your argument by demonstrating that you have researched and read widely about your topic and that other experts have had similar thoughts about it. You are also helping to enrich the scholarly conversation by directing your readers to other texts related to your topic.

Citation is a feature of all academic writing, but the method of citation will differ depending on what class you are taking. Generally, a citation consists of two parts: 1) an in-text citation (either a footnote or brief information in brackets) to indicate that an outside source is being cited, and 2) a list of References or Works Cited, containing complete information about all of your sources. Additionally, each style has associated formatting guidelines for your paper (ex. title page, headings); your instructor will likely indicate what formatting conventions they would like you to adhere to.

Your professor may tell you which citation style to use, but most departments will use the same style over and over again. Here is a brief description of each style as well as a suggestion of what disciplines you might use it for.


Developed by the American Psychological Association, APA is the most widely used style at TRU. It consists of an in-text citation (Author, Date) and an end reference list. You will likely use APA style if your classes are in Business, Education, Nursing, Psychology, Geography, or Social Work. Other disciplines may use it as well.


MLA Style was developed by the Modern Languages Association and consists of an in-text citation (Author Page) and an end Works Cited list. If you are taking classes in English Literature or other Modern Languages, you will likely use MLA Style.


There are two main varieties of Chicago Style, Notes and Bibliography and Author-Date. Ask your instructor which to use if you are unsure. You will likely use Chicago Style if you are in the departments of Philosophy, History, or Political Studies.


Scientific Style and Format is most commonly used by the Biology department.

Other Styles

There are many other common citation styles; some are listed in this guide, but many are not. If your instructor has requested a style not listed here, they may have suggested resources for you to consult.

A Note about This Guide

Each citation style has many unique rules and situations; we could not attempt to cover all of them. Our suggestions here rely on interpretations of the original style manuals. If you have a question about citation not covered by this guide, you may ask your instructor, make an appointment at the TRU Writing Centre or Contact your Subject Librarian.