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Bibliographic Citations

Learning Objectives
• Define bibliographic citation.
• Define and provide examples of popular citation styles (e.g., MLA, APA, and Chicago) for books, journal articles, websites, and conference proceedings.
• Identify errors in bibliographic citations.
• Compare and contrast different citation styles.
• Identify, compare, and use online citation generators (e.g., easybib, bibme, NoodleTools).
• Define and provide examples of citation and reference management tool (e.g., EndNote, BibTeX, Zotero, RefWorks).
• Identify persistent URLs and permanent links.

two computersLibrarians and other information professionals use the data represented in bibliographic database fields to create records, or citations, to the items indexed.

Students and other researchers cite those bibliographic records to acknowledge and point the way to others’ scholarship and ideas. However, the way a bibliographic record is presented by a database may not precisely match the requirements for the way a citation should be written for a scholarly bibliography in a specific discipline.

Students and other researchers working in all subject areas must be able to present bibliographic citations in the form that satisfies required conventions, called citation style. Different academic disciplines follow different citation styles. Librarians and other information professionals know how to manipulate the data from bibliographic record fields—manually or via forms in citation management software—to create citations that meet a variety of style requirements.

Bibliographic Citations

A bibliographic citation is a reference to a source such as a published or unpublished article, book, website, or other work. When writing a scholarly paper, an in-body citation along with the bibliographic entry constitutes a citation.

Citations generally include the author(s), title(s), publisher, date of publication, page numbers, and URL.

Citations are important to attribute ideas to the correct source, to allow readers to access and review the referenced work, to avoid plagiarism, and to provide intellectual credit.


Popular Citation Styles

A number of popular citation styles (e.g., MLA, APA, and Chicago) can be used to cite books, journal articles, websites, and conference proceedings.

Try It!
Spend some time exploring the APA, CMOS, Turabian, and MLA styles. Compare and contrast their approaches.

Bibliographic Citation Tips

Consistency is the key to effective citations. It’s important to choose a style and stick to that style.

Even small errors can cause problems in bibliographic citations. It’s essential to carefully select a style that meets the needs of the scholar work. However it’s equally important to use the style consistently.

Compare the correct and incorrect citations below. Can you find the errors?

Smith, N. R. (2012). Effects of e-books on reading in the primary grades. Childhood Reading, 4, 223-432.

King, A . R. (2011) - E-Books for Kids: Denver, Colorado; Sunshine Books.

Examine the following examples. Find the errors.

Campbell, Blake and Andrea Burns. Practice English: English as a Second Language. Barcelona, Spain:
Practical ESL, 2010.

Hamilton, Joshua. “Special Issues in Language Learning.” PhD diss.; University of Teasdale, (2013). ProQuest (AAT 3928485).

Compare Styles

Most of the citation styles contains the same basic elements. However, there are differences. Some place the date after the author and others place it at the end.

There are many variations in punctuation. Variations can also be found in the use of styles such as underline, boldface, and italics.

Citing some items are more difficult than others.

Learn to cite specific types of documents such as U.S. government publications and international organizations.


Try It!
Explore ideas for citing U.S. government publications and international organizations.

Online Citation Generators

An online citation generator create a basic citation for use in a research paper. They’re a quick and easy way to create a citation, however it’s important to double-check to result to be certain it’s correct and meets the research need.
Compare and contrast the tools below:

Try It!
Compare and contrast come of the different online generators. Check their accuracy.

Citation and Reference Management

workersWhether conducting research or working with library users, librarians may use many technology tools to facilitate reference management and note-taking activities.

Reference Management Software is software designed to help researchers record and use bibliographic citations.

Also known as Citation Management Software, this software is helpful in managing bibliographic references for annotating reading lists, compiling bibliographies, preparing lists of works cited, or tracking works of interest. Some of the software packages also provide note-taking features.

Many of the packages including EndNote allow users to capture source citations from bibliographic databases.

Citation and Reference Management Options

endnoteEndNote is a commercial reference management software package from Thomson Reuters that allows users to create references manually, from catalogs and databases, or by importing citations from databases. It’s possible to attach files and create hotlinks to web pages. Users can also take notes. When accessed through Microsoft Word, it will create a bibliography, footnotes, and endnotes. EndNote can be downloaded for Mac or Windows and is also available as a mobile app or web-based experience.

IUPUI students have access to this software for free through IUWare. Download and try this software.

Try It!
EndNote is available through IUWare. Download and try this software.

BibTeX is software for formatting lists of references.

RefWorks from ProQuest is a web-based option.

Zotero is a free, web-based option with browser connectors. It also allows users to capture web pages as screenshots.

Persistent URLs and Permanent Links

A Persistent Uniform Resource Locator (PURL) is a web address that is used to redirect users to the location of a web resource. In web design, PURLs are used for many purposes such as when a website is moved.

A permanent link or permalink is often used by librarians for the purpose of curation. The URL points to a specific page within a website. Because permalinks don’t change, they are less susceptive to link rot.

Originally most URLs were permalinks, however with the introduction of searchable databases, blogs, wikis, and other dynamic content, web addresses became temporary.

For instance, in Wikipedia the content of a wiki entry changes with each edit. To cite a particular version of a web page, a permanent link is needed. In Wikipedia, a permanent link can be found in the left column of the page.


Many dynamic databases display temporary results, rather than a static page. A permanent link is necessary to quickly locate a particular result. Many subscription databases produce permanent links.


A bibliographic citation is a reference to a source such as a published or unpublished article, book, website, or other work.

Many popular citation styles (e.g., MLA, APA, and Chicago) can be used to create citations for books, journal articles, websites, and other materials.

Errors in bibliographic citations are common. It’s important to double check citations.

Many online citation generators, as well as citation and reference management tools exist to assist researchers with citation activities.

When possible, use permanent links so that users can return to web pages cited.

| eduscapes | IUPUI Online Courses | Contact Us | 2014 Annette Lamb (Adapted from earlier s401 materials)

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