Academic EE IAs

Citation 101: APA, MLA, Chicago

You finally sit down to write a history essay. The topic amazes you, therefore, you are making sure to include and discern numerous ideas of various socio-economists, political theorists, and historians to create your best piece of historical analysis so far. The next day you enter the classroom, fully prepared for the compliments regarding your critical and risk-taking thinking, when the teacher boldly destroys your expectations by asking “WHERE ARE THE SOURCES?”

Once you join the IB, you must note two things regarding citation – first, writing will become your second nature (you will write internal assessments, Extended Essay, assignments, etc.), and, second, you will be expected to convey your thoughts in a high-quality way, by conducting proper research and utilizing credible sources. Hence, dedicating time to referencing your work should become your priority as the correct fulfillment of certain citing criteria will heavily reflect on your final grade (your internal assessment can be entirely eliminated in case of plagiarism or flawed referencing!).

The great news is that we prepared a concise and simple overview of the general citation system and three main citation styles – APA, MLA, and Chicago – which will break down the core rules of quoting so the word “citation won’t trigger your stress anymore.

Why Is It Important To Quote (Correctly)?

From TOK course one can notice that the word knowledge comprehends a special meaning – knowledge is something we highly value comparing it to some sort of truth (backed up by evidence or proofs, with different levels of certainty) which we use as a guide when reacting to reality, building our worldview, and deciding our actions. This may look like finding a completely diverse but perfectly logically based opinion about a certain topic you were biased about. Such analysis essentially affects our thinking and allows us to improve. However, it is no secret that knowledge often originates from hard-working people whose works we can scrutinize. Therefore, correct citation appears to be the only form in which we can say “thank you” to the specialists and thinkers who generally aim to expand the thinking limits of humanity.

The Usual Rules of Citation

Although citation styles have unique characteristics and requirements, they tend to belong to a common quoting system, which has these parts:

  • Citations within the text – these references are located right next to referenced material (usually at the end of the sentence) to indicate that the information provided was quoted or paraphrased (suggest, summarize, subtract), and not originally created by the author. 
  • Citation list – such organization of references in one place of the work aims to direct the reader to original sources which were used, thus, portraying some important details of them (e.g. date, publisher, etc.)

Citation Styles

While keeping this in mind, you can easily understand how common citation systems work while only being aware of the requirements that each style has. Here are the three most popular citation styles and their in-text quoting and citation list requirements. 

APA (American Psychological Association) Style

  • In-text citations (should be indicated immediately after the name they are relevant to instead of being located in footnotes): The last name of the author, years of publication, page, paragraph or section number (suggested).

Example (report): Secondly, dialectics can be described as “a method of philosophical argument that involves some sort of contradictory process between opposing sides” (Maybee, 2020), which is frequently viewed as a concept belonging to the great philosophers Plato and G. W. F. Hegel.

Example (book): Considering the utilitarian point of view, one does not have to specialize in a certain field or tie themselves to one activity as their job for their whole life but rather be able to study and work in as many areas as one is interested in: “…to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic” (Marx and Engels, 1932, sect. 1).

  • Reference list (This list is located at the end of your work, as well as it is organized in alphabetical order): Last and first name of the author, date, title, and source (book references should include the publisher)

Example (report): Maybee. (Winter 2020 Edition). Hegel’s Dialectics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Example (book): Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1968). The German Ideology. Progress Publishers.

MLA (Modern Language Association) Style

  • In-text citation: Last name of the author and page.

Example (journal article): It is important to note that IBO emerged (in 1968) due to a few unique reasons (Peterson 277).

Example (book): In this argument, Sysiphus becomes a symbol of rebellion and, therefore, happiness and freedom, not suffering or misery (Camus 1942).

  • Works cited list (At the end of your paper): Last and first name of the author, source title (headline), container title (title of the bigger work), other contributors, version, number, publisher, publication date, and location (pages). 

Book reference should 

Example (journal article): Peterson, A. D. C. The Program of International Baccalaureate. The Journal of General Education, vol. 28, no. 4, Penn State University Press, 1977, pp. 277-282.

Example (book): Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sysiphus. Éditions Gallimard. 1942.

(when referencing a book in MLA style notice that the author, book title, publisher, and publishing years are always included. However, if relevant, you may also include other details, such as volume numbers, editions, etc.)

Chicago Style

  • Notes and Bibliography Style (widely used in humanities) consists of citations in footnotes and endnotes, thus creating a Chicago style bibliography.

Footnote and endnote citation: Author’s name, the title of the source, page numbers (other elements may vary depending on short and long note requirements).

Example (article): Rathnayake, No Milk, No Eggs, Small Hope: Fears Rise for Sri Lanka’s Malnourished Children.

Example (book): Orwell, 1984, 162. 

Bibliography (Should be located at the end of your work, before any appendices): Last and first name of the author, source title: subtitle, edition, place of publication: publisher, year. URL (format varies regarding the source type).

Example (article): Rathnayake, Zinara. No Milk, No Eggs, Small Hope: Fears Rise for Sri Lanka’s Malnourished Children. The Guardian, August 22, 2023.

Example (book): Orwell, George. 1984. Great Britain: Penguin Books, 2008.

  • Author-date style (widely used in social sciences) consists of parenthetical in-text citations and a reference list at the end.

In-text citations: Last name of the author, year of publication, pages.

Example (article): Progress, which Sri Lanka has achieved during recent decades is overshadowed by the new alarming issues of food and healthcare insecurity (Rathnayake, 2023).

Example (book): In relation to this analysis, the conundrum of power and authority was established, stating that “Who controls the past controls the future…” (Orwell 2008, 162).

Reference list (appears at the end of your work): last and first name of the author, year of publication, book title: subtitle, edition, place of publication: publisher, year. URL. 

Example (article): Rathnayake, Zinara. August 22, 2023. No Milk, No Eggs, Small Hope: Fears Rise for Sri Lanka’s Malnourished Children. The Guardian,

Example (book): Orwell, George. 2008. 1984. Great Britain: Penguin Books.

Final notes

Lastly, here’s a few extra comments to notice:

  • In most cases, the school determines which citation style the student ought to use in their works so be sure to act in accordance with the rules of your learning institution.
  • If there is no date of the source, write “n.d.” in the brackets instead.
  • Always take into account the page formatting requirements that each style has!
  • Pro tip: use a citing generator to reference your sources more easily and quickly!

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