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What’s the difference between MLA and Chicago? What citation style does my field use? Listed below are resources for the major styles (MLA, Chicago, APA) and an A-Z list of different fields’ citation styles.

MLA (Modern Language Association)

This style is most commonly used in the humanities, particularly by fields that study literature and/or critical theory, such as English or comparative literature. The fields of art history, film/TV studies, and philosophy may use either MLA or Chicago.

MLA publishes two guides for writing and documenting research: the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, written for high school and undergraduate students, and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, for graduate students, scholars, and professional writers.

  • Official Website: The site provides links to both MLA style books. The only free resource is a brief FAQ page.
  • MLA Formatting and Style Guide — Information from Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab
  • Understanding MLA Style (11 min): A video guide to MLA that includes the 2016 updates, produced by Kyle Stedman, a professor of English at Rockford University.

Chicago Manual of Style

The Chicago Manual of Style comprises two systems of citation: (1) the “humanities style” (notes and bibliography) and (2) the author-date system Chicago is used by a wide assortment of fields, such as history, information science, and communications. However, fields that use Chicago may also use APA or MLA. Art history, classics, film/TV, and philosophy may employ either style.

The Chicago Manual of Style publishes a heavy hardcover book, The Chicago Manual of Style, as well as an online version (you will need institutional access, e.g., through a UCLA computer).

  • Official website: The Chicago Manual of Style’s website has an online version that is free to those with institutional access.

APA (American Psychological Association)

The APA style is commonly used by fields in the social sciences such as psychology, linguistics, and education. APA publishes the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, a pocket guide, and instructor and student manuals.

  • Official website — APA’s website has a number of free resources, such as tutorials about the newest edition and about APA style basics. The Style and Grammar Guidelines provide details of APA documentation style.
  • Read more about it:
  • APA Formatting and Style Guide: Information about APA formatting and citation from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab, with multiple examples and sample papers.
  • Watch video tutorials:
  • An Introduction to APA Documentation (5 min)—A movie with voice-over, jazz, and PowerPoint sides from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writing Center. (Note: The most recent APA updates are not included.)
  • Basics of APA Style Tutorial (20 min)—A tutorial from APA that covers not only documentation style but also manuscript format and reducing bias in language. (Note: The most recent APA updates are not included.)

Other Citation Styles by Field

Anthropology Anthropology uses the style of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), which is based on the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Official guide:
  • Biology Biology uses the CSE stylebook, as published by the Council of Scientific Editors. CSE may also be called the CBE style (Council of Biology Editors).
  • Online resource:
  • Chemistry Chemists use the guidelines set forth by the American Chemical Society (ACS).
  • Official website:
  • Dentistry Dentistry uses the National Library of Medicine style, or the American Medical Association style (see listing for medicine).
  • NLM:
  • AMA Manual of Style:
  • Engineering Civil Engineers often use the style set by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
  • ASCE's Online Manual
  • Another style is the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) style.
  • IEEE's Online Editorial Style Manual
  • Engineering also may use the ACS style.
    Geography The Association of American Geographers' publication refers to a citation style based on the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Official website:
  • Law Law uses the Bluebook style for citation.
  • Official website:
  • Online resource:
  • Mathematics American Mathematical Society (AMS) style. Other styles are acceptable so long as one style is consistent.
  • Online resource:
  • Management Various styles are used, including APA or Chicago, but the American Management Association also publishes a guidebook:
  • Medicine The main resource is the guide published by the American Medical Association (AMA).
  • Official website:
  • Physics The American Institute of Physics (AIP) offers this free online style guide:
  • Political Science Political Science may use Chicago or the American Political Science Association (APSA) style.
  • APSA Style Manual
  • Sociology The American Sociological Association (ASA) publishes a stylebook.
  • ASA Link for Style Guides:
  • Quick Tips for ASA Style:
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