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Citation Guides and Style Manuals: How To Read Citations

How To Read Citations

You will encounter references (abbreviated publication information) in footnotes, databases, bibliographies, textbooks and articles. References contain clues (such as dates, volume numbers, and total pages) that can help you determine the type of publication.

Books:

Publishers and total pages help identify books:

Pomeranz, Kenneth.  The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000) 382 pp.

Elements of this reference:

  • Author: Pomeranz, Kenneth

  • Book Title: The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

Edited Book:

A reference to an edited book is a little harder to unpack.  As a rule, the book title and the book editor are indexed in the library catalog.

Goddard, Ives (1978). "Delaware." In Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 15, Northeast, edited by Bruce G. Trigger, 213-239. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution

Elements of this reference:

  • Book Section Title: "Delaware"

  • Author: Ives Goddard

  • Book Title: Handbook of North American Indians

  • Book Editor: Bruce G. Trigger

Journal Article:

A volume number usually indicates a journal article.  Here's one with four authors:

Saywitz, K.J., Mannarino, A.P., Berliner, L., & Cohen, J.A. (2000).  Treatment for sexually abused children and adolescents.  American Psychologist 55, 1040-1049. 

Elements of this reference:

  • Author(s): Saywitz, Mannarino, Berliner, and Cohen

  • Journal Title:  American Psychologist 

  • Journal Article Title: Treatment for sexually abused children and adolescents

  • Volume number: 55 

  • First page: 1040 

  • Year of Publication: 2000

Citations for journal articles can contain abbreviated journal titles, though, like this one:

Karabel J. 1995. Towards a theory of intellectuals and politics.  Theory Soc. 25:205-33.

Elements of this reference:

  • Author(s): Karabel, J.

  • Journal Title: Theory and Society

  • Journal Article Title: Towards a theory of intellectuals and politics

  • Volume number: 55 

  • First page: 205

  • Year of Publication: 1995

Newspaper:

A date, as opposed to only a year, usually indicates publication in a periodical, journal or newspaper:

Schwartz, J.(1993, September 30) Obesity affects economic, social status.  The Washington Post, pp. A1, A4.

Elements of this reference:

  • Author: Schwartz, J.

  • Article Title:  Obesity affects economic, social status.

  • Periodical Title: The Washington Post

  • First Page: A1

  • Date of Publication:  September 30, 1993

Examples of common citation formats in APA style:

Book:

 

Book Chapter:

 

Journal Article:

 

Newspaper Article:

 

Website:

Examples of common citation formats in MLA Style:

Book:

 

Book Chapter:

 

Journal Article:

 

Newspaper Article:

 

Website:
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