One way of establishing credibility and expertise is having articles published in trade and professional journals. Many such journals not only require articles that contain a fair amount of research, but they also require you to cite the information sources you used to create the article. Actually, ethics and copyright law also require you to identify your sources for readers.
Citation styles vary a great deal and publications’ guidelines will usually state which style you should follow. The citation styles are just one component of style guides for writing and formatting written pieces, so you can use the entire guide for journals that require it. However, some publications want you to follow only the reference method.
When I started writing for trade journals, I had to buy several style guides to accommodate each publication and I also found some online resources in the interim. Here are four citation resources and methods to give you a quick idea of what citing sources entails. I’m using one of my favorite books, Effective Public Relations, as an example, but you should note citations for periodicals, broadcast materials or online documents differ slightly from book citations.
1. American Psychological Association (APA) Style
Style Guide: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
One of the most commonly used citation formats, APA focuses on article writing. The style includes in-text citations and a reference list at the end of the article.
In-text citation example:
According to Cutlip, Center and Broom (2000), the myth of communication confuses sending a message with actually communicating.
The myth of communication suggests that sending a message is the same as actually communicating (Cutlip, Center & Broom, 2000).
Reference list entry example:
Cutlip, S. M., Center, A.H., & Broom, G.M. (2000). Effective public relations (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
You can find more APA citation tips and examples at the APA website.
2. Documentary-Note Style
Style Guide: Chicago Manual of Style
The notes system is one of two options offered by the CMS manual and is often used by writers in the fields of literature, history and the arts. In this approach, you insert numbers in the text and write footnotes or endnotes (preferred) at the end of the article, chapter or book.
The reference numbers are placed in parentheses or square brackets, or they are written as superscript numbers. I’d recommend the superscript numbers, which are placed outside all punctuations marks except for the dash, which it precedes.
Bibliographical information can be included in the endnotes, but if there are several citations, the CMS manual recommends creating a separate bibliographical list, arranged by author surname or type of source.
Note citation example:
Sam M. Cutlip et al., Effective Public Relations, 5th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice- Hall, 2000).
Bibliographical entry example:
Cutlip, Sam M., Allen. H. Center, and Glen M. Broom, Effective Public Relations, 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000.
Note that only the first author’s name is inverted for bibliographies. You can also use “et al.” if you prefer. Also note that the author identified first in the book is always placed first in citations, bibliographies, etc.
3. CMS Author-Date Style
Style Guide: Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)
The CMS has an alternative to its documentary-note system: author-date documentation.
Like the APA style, in-text citations consist of parentheses containing authors’ surnames and the publication year. Unlike the APA style, you never use an ampersand to connect multiple names, and you do not place a comma between author name(s) and the publication year.
The myth of communication suggests that sending a message is the same as actually communicating (Cutlip, Center and Broom 2000).
Reference List Entry:
Cutlip, Sam M., Allen. H. Center, and Glen M. Broom. 2000. Effective Public Relations, 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
4. Modern Language Association (MLA) Style
Style Guide: MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing
Instead of using the publication year for in-text citations, the MLA format indicates the relevant page. If your cited material covers more than one page, give the range of pages (such as 151-52 or 299-300). As always, the list of works you cited within the text should be placed at the end of the piece. Only the name of the first author is inverted.
According to Cutlip, Center and Broom, the myth of communication confuses sending a message with actually communicating (251).
The myth of communication suggests that sending a message is the same as actually communicating (Cutlip, Center and Broom 251).
MLA Works Cited List:
Cutlip, Scott M., Allen H. Center and Glen M. Broom. Effective Public Relations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000.
The examples I’ve used here are meant to give you a general idea of what is involved when you use a particular method of documentation. Each style has many more specifics such as what to do with an actual quote, how to cite a source with no date, a multi-volume source, an email or online forum message, and so on. If you’re working on in-house pieces, you have the luxury of choosing what citation method to use, if necessary. I prefer an“author-date” method, but I suspect readers might like always knowing the page number of the original source (the MLA approach).
If you’d like to in-depth information on these citation styles in one place, visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). It’s one of my favorite online resources on formatting manuscripts in general and references in particular.