Works Cited Page Example for MLA, APA, Chicago, and More

Whether you’re writing a research paper for Biology class or putting together a presentation, it’s important to do your research and cite your sources. Never know which works cited style to use? Learn more about MLA, APA, Chicago, and other helpful hints.

Works Cited Page Example for MLA, APA, Chicago, and More

opening a book

Research projects are a lot of work, but it’s worth all the hard work when your instructor gives you rave reviews, and you’ve earned top marks. You’re able to be successful on your research paper or presentation because you spent time reading dozens of articles and journals written by scholars and scientist.

Since they spent years of research to provide you with essential information, it only seems fair to give them credit, right? Citing your sources properly might be a little confusing, but we’ll discuss some of the different citation styles, share a works cited page example for each style, and give you all the information you need to give proper credit where it’s due.

Why Citing Is Important

Few people will argue with the fact that citing your sources is important, but you might be curious if it’s truly necessary. The answer is yes, and there are a few reasons why it’s so crucial. Not only does it give researchers, scholars, and other writers appropriate credit, but citing is a “must” for the following reasons:

  • Avoiding confusion or “alternative facts”
  • You won’t be accused of plagiarism
  • It shows your professors, classmates, and readers that you know how to conduct research
  • You learn more as a researcher
  • You become a better writer
  • It shows that you’re respectful and responsible

What To Cite and What Not To Cite

Depending on the citation style you use, there may be come different rules but if you’re wondering what should be cited in your work and what’s not necessary, here are some general rules. 

DO Cite

  • Books and journal articles
  • Newspaper, magazines, brochures, and pamphlets
  • Film, television, ads
  • Websites and other electronic resources
  • Letter, email, forums
  • Personal interviews
  • Diagrams, charts, photos, and other graphics

You Shouldn’t Need To Cite (But Double-Check) 

  • Your own collected data in a field study
  • Your notes
  • Your own journaling
  • Your opinions
  • When you use “common knowledge”
  • Well-known facts

An In-Depth Look At Citation Styles 

Now that we’ve briefly discussed the importance of citing sources and the do’s and don’t, let’s take an in-depth look at some of the most common citation styles you may use throughout your academic career.

While you already know what a citation is, you may not understand what a citation style is or how one works. Citation style is the rules for formatting, how the information you cite in an article or project is ordered, and how to punctuate; each style has specific rules for citing information.

If you’re unsure of what type of citation style you should use, always ask your professor. It’s best to double-check rather than assuming. Citing information incorrectly can take up a lot of your valuable time, and it can also negatively affect your grade.




If you continue to study the sciences, you may be asked to use the following citation styles:

  • American Chemical Society (ACS) for Chemistry
  • American Institute of Physics (AIP) for Physics
  • American Medical Association (AMA) for Medical Sciences
  • American Mathematical Society (AMS) for Mathematics
  • Council of Science Editors (CSE) for Biology
  • National Library of Medicine (NLM) for Medicine

If you study the social sciences or law, you may be asked to use the following styles:

  • Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) for Legal Studies
  • American Political Science Association (APSA) for Political Science and International Studies
  • American Sociological Association (ASA) for Sociology
  • Bluebook for Legal Studies
  • Maroonbook for Legal Studies

Other citation styles include Harvard Business School, Associated Press (AP), and Linguistic Society of America (LSA).

Finding Citation Style Resources

eyeglass on top of a book

It would take a long time to explain each citation style in detail; thankfully, there are several resources available (and a majority of them are online). Depending on your coursework, you may have instructors that require you to purchase a citation style manual.

Even if it’s not a course requirement, it’s great to have on hand, and you may be surprised how often you use the manual. Although many people shy away from hard copy resources and would instead use the convenience of the internet, owning an official citation style guide may be more accurate and easier to use than finding all the information you need online.

While there are plenty of online resources that are legitimate, convenient, and helpful, don’t be afraid to utilize a writing or academic center if one is available; the people who work in these centers are knowledgeable in all citation styles and can help you make sure that you know which style to use.

If you don’t have a center nearby, head to your public library; a librarian should be able to assist you.

A writing or academic center can also be a great resource if you need someone to proofread an essay before you submit it to your professor. If you have any doubts about how your project or paper is formatted, you should get the feedback you need.

What About Citation Software?

software used in inserting citation

Making sure you cite your sources correctly is definitely important and some people will go so far as to use citation software. Citation management software is also known as bibliographic software, and it helps you organize, store, and retrieve information from the sources you use (like books, articles, journals, online resources, and websites).

Depending on the software you use, you might be able to import records or PDFs from databases and add abstracts and keywords to your paper or project. Once you’re ready to cite your sources, the software helps you create a bibliography.

While citation software can be a helpful tool, it should not be your “go to” solution for the proper citing of sources. The software is not flawless, and you still need to know the basic guidelines of the citation style that you’re using (such as MLA or APA).

Another option to try, when you need a little extra help with citing your sources, is an online citation builder. These are often free and can help you do citations quickly. Builders do not work the same as software.

Some Final Words On Citation Styles

As you can see, there are many different citation styles to choose from, and while some are specific, you might have a few style options (depending on your paper or project). If you’re unsure of what style to use, always ask.

If you use a couple of different citation styles on a regular basis, it’s a wise investment to purchase a hard-copy of the style guide; these are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. If you’re buying a used copy of a style guide, make sure that it has all the up-to-date information and if not, be sure to gather the right info to make it a current guide.

Citations are important, and while it may feel like an overwhelming part of writing a paper, it can be easy as long as you know the basics of the citation style and how to create the appropriate works cited page.