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Understand conventions for citing information.

Different academic disciplines and journals have unique formatting guidelines for citing sources and formatting research reports. Remarkably, there are hundreds of different formatting guidelines for referencing sources. This section briefly summarizes the most popular citation styles used in colleges and universities:

1. MLA

Humanities professors commonly require citations to be formatted according to MLA (Modern Language Association) guidelines. Information in this section pertains to the guidelines set forth by the 7th edition of The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.

2. APA

Education and social science professors commonly ask students to follow the APA (American Psychological Association) style for citing and documenting sources. APA differs from MLA in a number of ways, including the overall structure and format of the essay, but the major distinction between the two is APA's use of the year of publication, rather than the page on which a particular quotation appears, for the in-text citation. APA requires in-text publication dates because of the particular importance of a study's currency to research reports in the social sciences. Information in this section pertains to the guidelines established by the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.