Thoughts for the Month: Citations

Research citations are unavoidable for research writers. Although they are among the most important elements of research writing and presentations, they are often also among the most neglected. These oversights are often the result of prioritizing the writing (articles and books) along with the visual and stylistic elements (presentations) over the sources of information. But this information is the foundation of research communications. You’ve spent serious time and effort on your research and argument. Don’t let typos in citations and formatting inconsistencies mar your document!

My academic clients don’t need an introduction to style guides. They’ve been working with the American Phycological Association (APA) guide and/or the Modern Language Association (MLA) guide for many years by the time they write their dissertation/thesis. There are numerous versions of websites and software that will format your citations for you (even databases for scholarly articles often have an option for this), but they still need to be checked. These programs are often not up to date with the current version of the style guide and/or frequently return inconsistent results. That’s more work—not less! Help is available through a variety of sources. You can visit the websites of these organizations for detailed example papers and tutorials. But many writers still want an additional pair of eyes ensuring that they have included all required information, formatted correctly, and cross-checked in-text and Reference page citations.

When I work with book clients, unless they request otherwise, I use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS)—often the go-to reference in book publishing. MLA and APA are typically used only within academia. CMOS is more versatile and used in academia, business, and individuals.

Traditionally, newspapers and magazines always use the Associated Press (AP) style guide. It’s often used by businesses and corporations, especially if they work with press releases.

In the next months, I’ll be profiling a different style guide each month. You will learn why it’s helpful to work with a style guide, where there may be confusing inconsistencies among style guides, and what your choice of guide has to say about your writing.

Looking forward to it!

Need help with citations now? I have written with, taught, and proofread citations for many years. Contact me to discuss your project requirements.