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ELRC 7391: Reading Citations

Human Sciences, Education, and Distance Learning Librarian

Andrea Hebert's picture
Andrea Hebert

Citations

You should be able to identify what type of work the citation represents just by reading it.

Many databases now have helpful icons that help users quickly identify resources by type, but some databases lack this feature. 

There are many citation styles, but there are basic similarities that should allow you to figure out what type of resource is being cited no matter what citation style is used. In general, you can expect to find information about the following in almost any type of citation:

  • Author or editor information
  • Title of the work
  • Publication information
  • Publication date

I'm only giving you the highlights, but there is a way to cite just about everything: book reviews, blogs, tweets, video games, podcasts, software, maps, etc. All section references in this research guide refer to the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the APA or the sixteenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.

APA

Kuhlthau, C. C. (1991). Inside the search process: Information seeking from the user's perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42(5), 361-371.

Chicago

Kuhlthau, Carol C. "Inside the Search Process: Information Seeking from the User's Perspective." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 42, no. 5 (June 1991): 361-371.


Commentary

Citations for journal articles are some of the easiest to identify. Although the citations here are different, they refer to the same journal article. The biggest indicator that this is a journal article? There are two titles (the title of the article and the title of the journal). How can I tell that this isn't a book chapter (citations for book chapters also have two titles--the title of the chapter and the title of the book)? There is no information about the place of publication or the publisher.

Notice that article titles are in sentence case in APA style and in title case in Chicago style. The placement of the year is also different, and you'll also notice that punctuation differs between the two styles. It would not be unusual to see either of these citations without the issue number (5). Also, in Chicago, you will often only see the year instead of the month or season and year.

Many articles now have a DOI (digital object identifier); APA includes these at the end of citations. This particular article does not have a DOI.

APA

Figueroa, M. (2015, March/April). Forecasting the future of libraries 2015: Trends in culture, community, and education point to increased potential for expanding the roles of libraries of all types. American Libraries, 46(3/4), 28-29.

Chicago

Figueroa, Miguel. "Forecasting the Future of Libraries 2015: Trends in Culture, Community, and Education Point to Increased Potential for Expanding the Roles of Libraries of All Types," American Libraries, March/April, 2015, 28-29.


Commentary

Citations for magazine articles are very similar to journal articles. Like journal articles, there are two titles (the title of the article and the title of the magazine). How can I tell that this isn't a book chapter (citations for book chapters also have two titles--the title of the chapter and the title of the book)? There is no information about the place of publication or the publisher.

Notice that article titles are in sentence case in APA style and in title case in Chicago style. The placement of the year is also different, and you'll also notice that punctuation differs between the two styles. Chicago doesn't require the use of volume and issue number for magazines.

Note that both examples give the month of publication. Citations for journal articles usually don't include that information.

APA

Rathemacher, A. J. (2009). E-Journal usage statistics in collection management decisions: A literature review. In S. Easun, & D. Orcutt (Eds.), Library data: Empowering practice and persuasion (pp. 71-89). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

Chicago

Rathemacher, Andrée J. "E-Journal Usage Statistics in Collection Management Decisions: A Literature Review." In Library Data: Empowering Practice and Persuasion, edited by Susan Easun and Darby Orcutt, 71-89. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2009. Accessed January 22, 2016. ProQuest ebrary.


Commentary

Again, although the citations here are different, they refer to the same book chapter.

What is the biggest indicator that this is a book chapter? There are two titles (the title of the chapter and the title of the book). How can I tell that this is a book chapter and not a journal article (citations for journal articles also have two titles--the title of the article and the title of the journal)? The place of publication and the publisher are noted for book chapters but not for journal articles.

Here's another indicator that this particular citation is for a book chapter: names occur in two places. This is a chapter in an edited book with chapters from various authors. Names will only occur in one place in citations for journal articles.

Notice that chapter titles are in sentence case in APA style and in title case in Chicago style. APA uses the abbreviation (Eds.) to note that Susan Easun and Darby Orcutt edited the book, while Chicago spells it out. The placement of the year is also different, and you'll also notice that punctuation differs between the two styles.

APA

Thomsen, E. (1999). Rethinking reference: The reference librarian's practical guide for surviving constant change. New York: Neal-Schuman.

Chicago

Thomsen, Elizabeth. Rethinking Reference: The Reference Librarian's Practical Guide for Surviving Constant Change. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1999.


Commentary

Citations for books are easy to identify. Although the citations here are different, they refer to the same book. The biggest indicator that this is a book? There is only one title. The place of publication and the publisher are also identified.

Notice that book titles are in sentence case in APA style and in title case in Chicago style. The placement of the year is different, and you'll also notice that punctuation differs between the two styles.

APA

New, modern teen room opens at Bluebonnet Branch library; it's just one of the changes as renovations begin at parish branch libraries. The Advocate (2016, January 10). The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA). Retrieved from http://theadvocate.com

Chicago

"New, Modern Teen Room Opens at Bluebonnet Branch Library; It's Just One of the Changes as Renovations Begin at Parish Branch Libraries," The Advocate  (Baton Rouge, LA), January 10, 2016.


Commentary

Several things indicate that these are citations for a newspaper article. The first is the date; month, date, and year are all given. There is no information about the place of publication or the publisher.

If the name of the city is not part of the newspaper's title, you will often see the city and state in parentheses after the newspaper's title.

Notice that article titles are in sentence case in APA style and in title case in Chicago style.

The placement of the date is different, and you'll also notice that punctuation differs between the two styles.

Newspaper articles should be cited in your papers but do not need to appear in you bibliographies (Chicago 14.206).

In APA style, newspaper articles should be included in reference lists (APA 6.30).

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