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Going to the Source:

A resource provided by collaboration between the College Libraries, the Writing Center, and the Faculty


Differences in citation form by academic field

Regardless of discipline, all scholarly citation systems consist of two parts:

  1. Citations made within your text: footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical citations
  2. A reference list or bibliography at the end of your paper, listing all the sources you consulted, organized alphabetically by the author’s (or first author’s) last name

Various fields, however, use different forms and styles for citations and references. It’s always best to check with your professor regarding the rules of the field in which you are working. It may also be helpful to find an article from a top journal in the field and use it as a model for your citation style and reference formatting.


Many disciplines have reference works, often called “style manuals,” for authors to use.

A guide to citation forms and style guides in different disciplines is available at

In general, your professors care much more about your acknowledgement of sources than about whether you italicize or put a period or comma in the right place. Nonetheless, strive to get the form correct. Many disciplines have reference works, often called “style manuals,” for authors to use. They contain detailed information about how to cite specific types of sources. Examples include the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, published by the Modern Language Association and used in English and other literary disciplines; the ACS Style Guide of the American Chemical Society; the American Psychological Association’s Publication Manual; Kate Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations; and The Chicago Manual of Style.

The Vassar Research Librarians maintain a webpage with information on style guides in many fields and other pertinent information on citing sources. The address is: