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If you currently belong to the academic community, you probably heard of the terms APA, MLA, Turabian, and Harvard. Your professor perhaps has required you to turn in an essay using these styles. If not, then it is high time you get to know these terms.

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APA, MLA, Turabian, and Harvard are just a few of the citation styles used in academic writing. Citations are necessary in any type of paper to avoid being accused of the biggest crime in academic writing, plagiarism. Most educational institutions require their students to use citation styles depending on the subject of the paper. For instance, psychology papers such as essays require APA while literature papers such as research papers call for MLA. Other fields have likewise devised their own citation styles to be used in their written materials such as medicine, law, engineering, and others.

Moreover, citations are needed to document all sources used in the paper such as books, journals, magazines, newspapers, other print sources, electronic sources, and all other materials utilized in the completion of the paper. Each of these sources should be cited based on the rules of the citation style. For instance, the basic format for books in the paper’s bibliography should include the title, author, publisher, place of publishing, and year of publishing. These elements will be written differently depending on which citation style used. In addition, online sources and other known sources will also be written in a different format for each of the citation styles.

Apart from the bibliography, citation styles also dictate how sources will be cited within the text. This is called in-text citation, which includes the author and the year of publishing for APA and the author and page number for MLA. Other citation styles would have a different in-text citation format.

In addition, citation styles determine the formatting of the paper. For instance, APA requires a title page and succeeding pages should be paginated by the title of the paper and page number. Meanwhile, MLA does not need a title page and pages should be paginated by the author’s last name and the page number. Other citation styles would also call for different paper formatting.

With all these, the task of writing papers with citation styles requires intricacy and precision. Though it may not be your professor’s requirement to memorize how each source should be cited for each citation style, it will be better if you know how to cite commonly used sources such as books and journals. If you find it difficult to remember how to do each one, it is recommended that you keep a citation style guideline or manual so that you could just refer to it whenever you are writing. You could also consult online copies of citation style guidelines. The Web site http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ gives a detailed guide to help you cite your sources accurately. Therefore, the next time your professor asks you to write a paper using any of the citation styles, you surely know what to do.