A College Student’s Guide to Citation Styles

College students are often expected to write research articles on a regular basis. Depending on their specific area of study, the manner in which these articles should be written may vary quite dramatically. Typically, students receive instructions on article topic, but no directions on the actual writing style itself. Typically, writing styles are classified as being focused on the humanities, sciences, or social sciences. Individuals who have a difficult time writing in a particular style may want to seek assistance from a professor or writing expert.



The Chicago style of writing is traditionally used in the production of news articles or reports intended for publication in a magazine or newspaper. It is commonly recommended for students who hope to pursue a career as a journalist, professional freelance writer, or columnist.


The Turabian and Chicago writing styles are often considered to be quite similar in nature. The primary differences between these two writing styles reflect changes in the manner in which notes are numbered. Traditionally, Turabian style endnote and footnotes should feature a subscript 1 in the text, as well as at the beginning of a new note. In contrast, Chicago style writing features the note number in parenthesis, while in the note it is followed by a period and a space. For example:

1. Chicago

The Turabian style of writing is often used by individuals in the production of a thesis or dissertation. Like the Chicago style of writing, it is strongly emphasized for use by English majors and others with a strong grasp of writing intricacies.

MLA (Modern Language Association)

The MLA writing style is an academic style of writing traditionally used by students in the United States. It is most commonly used in the production of research articles by students in the humanities, such as English, literature, or foreign language majors.


ACS (American Chemistry Society)

The ACS, or American Chemistry Society Style, of writing is typically used when writing research articles related to discoveries or experimentations in the field of chemistry. It is commonly used in chemistry classes, and may be recommended for students who wish to pursue higher education or employment in the field of chemistry.

CSE (Council of Scientific Experts)

Like the ACS style, the CSE—or Council of Scientific Experts—is a writing style designed for use by students pursing education in the field of science. However, this writing style is specifically intended for use by science students or majors who hope to gain employment as a professional scientist or further their studies in the field.

  • How to Cite Using CSE—Describes how writers can use CSE style to insert citations in works.
  • CSE Styleguide—Tips and suggestions for using citations and footnotes when writing in CSE style.

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)

The IEEE is a commonly accepted form of writing style used by students enrolled in technical fields. Specifically, this writing style is often recommended for students interested in pursuing a degree or career in the field of information technology, engineering, or other similar, related areas.

NLM (National Library of Medicine)

The NLM writing style is commonly used when writing articles related to findings in the field of medicine. It may be used by students who wish to pursue a career as a physician, or who hope to participate in research related to the study, treatment, and management of common medical problems.

Vancouver (Biological Sciences)

Like the NLM style, the Vancouver style of writing is used prominently in the field of medicine. It may also be used when writing articles related to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of a number of medical conditions. Like with the NLM style, it is commonly recommended for students who wish to pursue a career as a physician.

Social Sciences

AAA (American Anthropological Association)

Traditionally, the AAA style of writing has been based on the Chicago style of writing. However, it is specifically used in the production of research articles related to anthropological topics, and should be recommended for students who hope to further their career in this area.

APA (American Psychological Association)

As suggested by the name, the APA writing style is used when writing and submitting articles related to the research of or study in the area of clinical psychology. Often, students in psychology classes or who hope to pursue higher education in the field must familiarize themselves with this writing style.

APSA (American Political Science Association)

The APSA style of writing is designed when writing articles, abstracts, or other information related to the field of political science. Often, students who are enrolled in law school—or who hope to obtain a political career—are encouraged to master this writing style.

Legal Style

Finally, legal writing is a specific type of writing used by students who hope to obtain positions as lawyers, judges, or legislators. It is commonly used when writing legal briefs or producing analysis of legal cases.

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