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This article is written by Abhishek Kumar of 1st Year of Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University) New Law College, Pune, an intern under Legal Vidhiya


Citations serve several important purposes within academic and research contexts. Firstly, they are essential for “upholding intellectual honesty and providing proper attribution to the sources of insights and information.” Additionally, citations play a crucial role in reinforcing claims and arguments made within scholarly works. Beyond this, linguistic analysis of citation practices has shown that citations also play a pivotal role in shaping the body of knowledge on a specific topic. They aid in identifying gaps in existing knowledge that require further exploration or replication, thereby guiding future research inquiries and contributing to the ongoing evolution of knowledge within a particular field. Furthermore, citations are instrumental in enabling researchers to establish their stance within their respective fields. By referencing and aligning themselves with or against the work of fellow researchers, citations help scholars to position themselves within academic discourse and influence the direction of new knowledge creation.


Intellectual honesty, Sources of insight information, Knowledge of specific topic, research inquiry, academic discourse, knowledge creation.


In the vast realm of academic inquiry, the threads that weave together the fabric of knowledge are meticulously traced through the practices of citation and bibliography.  Citation, the art of crediting the origins of ideas, findings, and arguments, stands as a testament to the collaborative nature of academic pursuits. From the ancient scrolls of Aristotle to the digital pages of contemporary research articles, the practice of acknowledging intellectual indebtedness has evolved into a cornerstone of scholarly discourse. In this article we delve into the historical roots of citation, tracing its trajectory through time and exploring how various citation styles have emerged to codify this practice across diverse disciplines.

Simultaneously, the spotlight turns to the construction of bibliographies, the comprehensive lists that serve as treasure troves of referenced works. A bibliography is more than a mere inventory; it is a navigational guide for fellow scholars, a meticulous arrangement of resources that fosters transparency, accountability, and the pursuit of deeper understanding. As we journey through the annals of academic literature, we scrutinize different types of bibliographies, considering their varied roles in diverse academic landscapes.


Citations and bibliographies are critical components of academic and scholarly writing. They serve to give credit to the original sources of information, provide evidence for arguments, and allow readers to trace and verify the information presented. The origins of citation and bibliography practices can be traced back to the development of formalized scholarly communication.

  • Early Practices

The concept of citing sources dates back to ancient times when scholars and writers would often refer to earlier works to support their arguments. Early Greek and Roman scholars, such as Aristotle and Cicero, would cite the works of their predecessors in their writings.

  • Medieval and Renaissance Periods

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, scholars continued to cite sources, but the formalization of citation styles was not yet established. Manuscripts and books often included marginal notes or references to other works, but these were not standardized.

  • The Rise of Print Culture

With the advent of the printing press in the 15th century, the reproduction of texts became more widespread. This led to the need for more accurate and consistent citation practices. Scholars like Desiderius Erasmus advocated for clear referencing in scholarly works.

  • 17th Century

The 17th century saw the emergence of more structured citation systems. The philosopher and scientist, Sir Thomas Browne, is often credited with developing a rudimentary citation system in his works.

  • 18th Century

During the Enlightenment, there was a growing emphasis on empirical evidence and the scientific method. This led to the need for clear and standardized citation practices to facilitate the sharing of knowledge.

  • Chicago Manual of Style (1906)[1]

The Chicago Manual of Style, first published in 1906, played a significant role in shaping modern citation practices. It provided guidelines for citing sources systematically.

  • American Psychological Association (APA) Style (1929)[2]

The APA Style originated in 1929 with the publication of the first edition of the Publication Manual. It was developed by a group of psychologists and has since become widely used, especially in the social sciences.

  • Modern Language Association (MLA) Style (1951)[3]

The MLA Style, commonly used in humanities, was first introduced in 1951 by the Modern Language Association.

  • International Standards

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has also developed standards for bibliographic references (ISO 690) to provide a common framework for citation.

Today, various citation styles exist, each tailored to the conventions of specific academic disciplines. Common styles include APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, and others. The development of citation practices reflects the evolution of scholarly communication and the need for standardized methods to attribute credit to sources in academic writing.

What is Citation

Citation is like giving credit to someone when you use their ideas, words, or work in your project, assignment, or writing. Example: you’re building a treehouse, and you get a cool idea for a ladder from your friend. When you tell others about your treehouse and mention that the ladder idea came from your friend, that’s a bit like citing your friend.

Elements of the Citation

There are seven elements of citation following:

  1. Collection name:  Papers of Julia Child, 1925-1993
  2. Collection numberMC 644
  3. Item description:
    • Author: Julia Child
    • Brief title: Journal, 1974
    • Date: 1974
  4. Folder number/item identifier. The following are the 2 different ways that items may be identified at the Schlesinger Library:
    • Each item is numbered in order, regardless of what box it is located in: Item 3
    • Each item is labelled by the box it is located in and what folder number it is in that box: Item 1.3
  5. Repository nameSchlesinger Library
  6. Repository locationRadcliffe Institute, Cambridge, Mass.
  7. Date accessedApril 09, 2020

How to Do a Citation

1. Author’s Name if you use a book, article, or website, check to see who wrote it. The author’s name is like giving credit to the person who made the ladder idea.

2. Title of the Book or Article Just like your treehouse has a name, books and articles have titles. Include the title to help others know exactly which ladder (or information) you used.

3. Where and When It Was Published Think of this like saying where your friend lives. For a book, it’s the city and the year it was published. For a website, it’s the website’s name and the date you looked at it.

4. Page Numbers (if using a book) If you used a specific part of a book, like a particular chapter or page, mention it. It’s like pointing to the exact step of the ladder.

It’s a way of being fair and respectful to the people who wrote the books, articles, or websites you used. Just like you’d want credit for your awesome treehouse, they want credit for their ideas and hard work too!

Why do we need citations?

Citations serve many crucial purposes in academic and scholarly writing following:

  • Giving credit citations allows writers to give credit to the original creators of ideas, information, or work. This is a way of acknowledging the intellectual contributions of others.
  • Avoiding plagiarism is using someone else’s work or ideas without giving them proper credit. Citations help in avoiding plagiarism by clearly indicating when you are using someone else’s words, concepts, or findings.
  • Building credibility including citations in your work adds credibility to your writing. It shows that your ideas are based on well-researched and reliable sources, strengthening your argument or discussion.
  • Allowing verification readers, teachers, or other researchers should be able to verify the information you present. Citations provide a roadmap for others to locate the sources you used, enabling them to check and confirm your statements.
  • Supporting arguments citations serve as evidence to support your arguments or claims. When you refer to credible sources, it adds weight to your perspective and makes your writing more persuasive.
  • Promoting further exploration by citing sources, you guide your readers to additional materials related to your topic. This promotes further exploration and allows others to delve deeper into the subject matter.
  • Contributing to academic integrity citations are a fundamental aspect of academic integrity. They uphold the principles of honesty, fairness, and responsibility in scholarly communication.
  • Respecting intellectual property by citing sources is a way of respecting intellectual property rights. It acknowledges that ideas and information are valuable and should be attributed to their original creators.
  • Following academic conventions, different academic disciplines have specific conventions for citing sources. Adhering to these conventions ensures that your work aligns with the standards and expectations of your field.
  • Building a scholarly community by citing sources, you contribute to the ongoing conversation within your academic community. It establishes a connection between your work and the broader body of knowledge.


The Vancouver system and parenthetical referencing are two major types of citation systems used in academic writing.

Vancouver System:[4]

 Uses sequential numbers in the text, either bracketed or superscript,[5] to denote sources.

 The numbers refer to footnotes or endnotes that provide detailed source information.

 The organization of the bibliography lists sources in the order of their appearance intext, not alphabetically by author’s last name.

 In a paper with a full bibliography, a citation might look like this: “The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.”1

 The corresponding footnote or endnote for this would be 1. Elisabeth KüblerRoss, On Death and Dying (New York: Macmillan, 1969) 45–60.

In the humanities, many authors also use footnotes or endnotes to supply anecdotal information. In this way what looks like a citation is actually supplementary material, or further reading.

Parenthetical Referencing (Harvard Referencing):

 Uses full or partial, in-text citations enclosed in circular brackets and embedded within the paragraph.[6]

 An example of a parenthetical reference would look like: “The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance” (KüblerRoss, 1969, pp. 45–60).

 Depending on the chosen style fully cited parenthetical references may require no end section, with complete bibliographical references listed in an end section under headings like “References”, “Bibliography”, “Works cited”, or “Works consulted”.

It’s important to note that intext references for online publications may differ from conventional parenthetical referencing, with some styles utilizing hidden full references that are only displayed when requested by the reader, typically in the form of a tooltip. This approach aims to make citing easier and enhance the reader’s experience. 

Types of Citation

There are two main ways to categorize citations:

1. By their location:

  • Intext citations: These are brief references within the text of your writing, typically in parentheses or superscript numbers, that point to the source of information you’re using. They usually include the author’s last name and the publication date (or page number, if relevant).
  • Reference list citations: These are full details of the sources you cited in your writing, listed at the end of your work following a specific style guide. They provide comprehensive information about the source, allowing readers to find it if they wish.

2. By their formatting:

  • Parenthetical citations: These are the most common type of intext citation, using parentheses to enclose author, date, and page number (e.g., Smith, 2023, p. 12). Styles like APA and MLA use this format.
  • Numerical citations: These use numbers in brackets or superscripts to correspond with numbered entries in the reference list. This format is common in some humanities styles like Chicago.
  • Note citations: These provide full citations in footnotes or endnotes, indicated by superscript numbers or symbols in the text. This format is used in some humanities styles like Chicago.

Fundamental of Citations[7]

  • APA[8]: APA uses parenthetical citations as its form of in-text citation. Provide a parenthetical citation before the period directly following the information you are citing. These citations should correspond to a more detailed citation in the reference list but only need to specify a page number if directly quoting or borrowing from the source material. The essential elements for this in-text citation are the author’s last name and the date for the specific publications. The last name may be omitted if the sentence states or makes clear the source material. APA uses a reference list, an alphabetized list of sources following the end of the book or paper, for its complete list of sources referenced. This list should be titled “References” in bold and alphabetized by the first item in the citation, which, in most cases, is the author’s last name. Each reference from this list must be cited in your paper and vice versa.
  • MLA[9]: MLA uses parenthetical citations as its form of in-text citation. Provide a parenthetical citation before the period directly following the information you are citing. These citations, generally, should give a specific page number for the specific information and, specifically, should correspond to a more detailed citation in the Works Cited. The essential elements for this in-text citation are a page number and the author’s last name. The last name may be omitted if the sentence states or makes clear the source material. MLA uses a work cited, an alphabetized list of sources following the end of the book or paper, for its complete list of sources referenced. This list should be alphabetized by the first item in the citation, which, in most cases, is the author’s last name. The format of indentation for this list should be 0″ for the first line and 1″ for all following lines.
  • Chicago[10]: There are two different forms of Chicago style: Notes style and Author-Date style. The primary difference between these two forms is not the content of the citation but the location of the date in the citation. For the Chicago Author-Date style, primarily used for physical, life, and social sciences, the year of the date is located immediately after the first element, usually the author’s name. For the Chicago Notes style, primarily used for history, the location of the date varies by resource but is usually not immediately after the author. Chicago style includes footnotes and a bibliography for Notes style or parenthetical citations and a reference list for Author-Date style

Chicago uses footnotes for Notes style or parenthetical citations for Author-Date style as its form of in-text citation. For footnotes, they are designated using a superscript number, beginning with 1 and continuing consecutively through the paper without repetition. The superscript number corresponds to a citation with a full-sized number at the bottom of the same page. These footnote citations should correspond to a more detailed citation in the bibliography. For parenthetical citations, provide a citation before the period directly following the information you are citing. These require the author’s last name, year of publication, and page number.

Chicago uses a bibliography in Notes Style or a reference list in Author-Date style for its complete list of sources referenced. The bibliography or reference list is an alphabetized list of sources following the end of the book or paper. This list should be titled “Bibliography” or “References” and be alphabetized by the first item in the citation, which, in most cases, is the author’s last name. For formatting this page, two blank lines should be between the title and the first entry, and only one blank line between the remaining entries. Each reference from this list must be cited in your paper and vice versa.

Different Styles of Citations

There are several types of citations, each with its own rules and formats. The type of citation you use depends on the nature of the source and the citation style you are following. Here are the types of citations:

  • Book Citation

 Format (APA): Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle.  Publisher.

 Example: Smith, J. (2005).  The Art of Writing. ABC Publishing.

  • Journal Article Citation: 

 Format (MLA): Author(s). “Title of Article.”  Title of Journal, vol. #, no. #, Year, pages.

 Example: Johnson, M. “The Impact of Climate Change.”  Environmental Studies, vol. 27, no. 3, 2018, pp. 45 62.

  • Website Citation: 

 Format (Chicago): Author, “Title of Webpage,” Name of Website, Publication Date, URL.

 Example: Brown, A. “The Importance of Bees.” Bee Conservation Society, 2020, www.beeconservation.org/importance of bees.

  • Newspaper Article Citation: 

 Format (APA): Author, A. A. (Year, Month Day of publication). Title of article.  Title of Newspaper, page range.

 Example: Smith, J. (2021, January 15). “New Discoveries in Space Exploration.”  The Daily Star, pp. A1 A2.

  • Electronic Book (eBook) Citation: 

 Format (MLA): Author(s).  Title of Book. Publisher, Year of Publication. URL or DOI.

 Example: Miller, P. Digital World: Exploring Cyberspace. eBooks Publishing, 2019. doi:10.1234/ebook.5678.

  • Citing an Interview: 

 Format (APA): Interviewee, A. A. (Year, Month Day). Personal communication.

 Example: Smith, J. (2022, March 5). Personal interview.

  • Film or Video Citation: 

 Format (MLA): Director’s Name.  Title of Film. Studio, Year of Release.

 Example: Spielberg, S.  Jurassic Park. Universal Pictures, 1993.

  • Social Media Citation: 

 Format (APA):  Author. (Year, Month Day of post).  Text of the post.  Site Name. URL

 Example: @Writer123. (2021, June 10). “Excited to announce my new book!” Twitter. twitter.com/Writer123/status/123456789.

What is Bibliography

A bibliography is a list of all sources that you consulted, referred to, or cited in the process of researching and creating a project, paper, or any other piece of work. It typically appears at the end of your document and provides detailed information about each source to help others locate the same materials.

Elements of a Bibliography entry:

  • Author’s Name: For books, articles, and other written works, the author’s name is usually the first element. It can be in the format Last Name, First Name.
  • Title of the Work: The title of the book, article, or webpage is another essential element. It should be in italics for books and journals, and in quotation marks for articles or shorter works.
  • Publication Information: For books, this includes the place of publication and the name of the publisher. For articles, it includes the name of the journal or magazine, the volume and issue number, and the page range. Websites should include the URL.
  • Publication Date: Include the publication date of the source if available. For books, it’s usually the copyright date. For articles, it’s the date the article was published. For websites, it’s the date you accessed the information.
  • Additional Information (if applicable): Depending on the type of source, you might include additional information. For example, for interviews, mention the name of the interviewee, and for films, include the director’s name.


The term “bibliographer” has evolved with time, carrying multiple meanings and serving specific roles. Traditionally, a bibliographer is a person who meticulously describes and catalogues books and other publications, paying close attention to various characteristics such as authorship, publication date, edition, typography, and more. Over time, the word has come to signify an individual who provides a thorough account of the books written on a specific subject, often in the form of comprehensive lists or in-depth assessments. In contemporary times, bibliography is not commonly pursued as a standalone career; rather, bibliographies are often focused on highly specific subjects and are typically produced by specialists in their respective fields.[11]

Furthermore, the term “bibliographer” may also pertain to certain roles carried out in libraries and bibliographic databases, particularly those focused on the meticulous description and organization of literary and informational resources.

Notably, one of the pioneering bibliographers was Conrad Gessner, who endeavoured to compile a comprehensive list of all books printed in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew in his work “Bibliotheca Universalis” (1545). This historical example serves to underscore the significant role of bibliographers in curating and preserving the literary and cultural heritage of various languages and civilizations. 

Types of Bibliography

There are different types of bibliographies, each serving specific purposes in academic and research settings.  

  • Annotated Bibliography:

Includes a brief summary or annotation for each source, providing information on its content, relevance, and potential usefulness. Annotations may also include evaluations of the source’s reliability and methodology[12].

  • Descriptive Bibliography:[13]

Focuses on providing detailed physical descriptions of books, manuscripts, or other materials. It includes information about typography, paper, bindings, and any unique features.

  • Analytical Bibliography:

Analyses and describes the printing and publishing history of a specific work. Scholars in this field examine variations between editions, printer errors, and changes made during the printing process.

  • Enumerative Bibliography:

 A straightforward list of sources, typically organized by author, title, or subject. This is the most common type of bibliography and provides basic information such as author, title, publication details, and page numbers.

  • National Bibliography:

Compiles a comprehensive list of all publications within a specific country. National bibliographies serve as a valuable resource for researchers and librarians interested in the intellectual output of a particular nation.

  • Subject Bibliography:

 Focuses on sources related to a specific subject or topic. It provides researchers with a curated list of materials relevant to their area of interest.

  • Selective Bibliography:

A curated list of sources chosen by the compiler based on their relevance, quality, or importance. This type of bibliography is useful when dealing with a vast body of literature, allowing the compiler to highlight key works.

  • Historical Bibliography:

Traces the evolution of a particular field of study or topic over time. It includes older and seminal works alongside more recent publications, providing a historical perspective on the development of knowledge.

  • Systematic Bibliography:

Organizes sources based on a specific system or classification, such as publication type, date, or any other systematic criteria. This type helps researchers identify patterns and relationships within a set of sources.

  • Bibliography of Bibliographies (Meta bibliography):

Compiles a list of other bibliographies, providing researchers with a guide to the existing literature on a particular subject or within a specific field.

  • Mixed Bibliography:

Combines elements of different types of bibliographies to suit specific research needs. For example, an annotated bibliography can also be a national bibliography if it covers publications from a specific country.

Bibliographic Index

The description you’ve provided outlines the purpose and functionality of a bibliographic index. Such an index acts as a means to locate publications and is structured to assist individuals in finding the information they seek. The controlled vocabulary developed within a bibliographic index helps organize citations by author and subject, facilitating efficient search and retrieval of relevant publications. The evolution of bibliographic indexes from manual compilation using index cards to their generation as output from bibliographic databases since the 1970s reflects advancements in information management and retrieval systems. This transition has enhanced the accessibility and usability of bibliographic indexes, offering them in print periodical form, online, or both.

The distinction between an index and a catalogue, as described in the provided details, highlights that while an index entry locates a subject, a catalogue entry includes descriptive specifications of the document associated with the subject. Furthermore, the diverse applications of bibliographic indexes are evident in their ability to support searches within various fields, disciplines, literary forms, publication formats, and the analysed contents of serial publications. For example, the Philosopher’s Index facilitates exploration within the realm of philosophy, while the New York Times Index offers access to the analysed contents of the New York Times publication.

It’s clear from the information provided that bibliographic indexes play a critical role in organizing and facilitating access to an extensive array of publications, tailored to diverse information needs across different domains. 


The exploration of citation and bibliography practices reveals their pivotal role in the intricate landscape of academic inquiry. Citation, as the art of acknowledging intellectual debts, has evolved into a cornerstone of scholarly discourse from the ancient scrolls to contemporary digital research articles. Simultaneously, bibliographies serve as navigational guides, fostering transparency, accountability, and the pursuit of deeper understanding in the vast annals of academic literature.

The historical journey of citation, from early practices to the formalization of styles, reflects the evolution of scholarly communication. The comprehensive examination of various citation styles, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago, highlights their diverse origins and applications. Understanding citation is akin to giving credit, avoiding plagiarism, and contributing to the credibility and integrity of academic writing.

The significance of bibliographies lies in their role as detailed lists of consulted sources, supporting credibility, avoiding plagiarism, and facilitating further exploration. The different types of bibliographies, from annotated to historical, demonstrate their versatility in catering to specific research needs.

Citation and bibliography are not mere formalities; they are integral components that uphold the foundations of scholarly communication, ensuring the acknowledgement of intellectual contributions, the traceability of information, and the perpetuation of academic integrity.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citation
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibliography
  3. https://researcher.life/blog/article/citations-references-and-bibliography-in-research-papers-beginners-guide/
  4. https://research.com/research/how-to-cite-a-research-paper
  5. https://guides.library.ucsc.edu/writing/cite_sources
  6. https://grants-nmsu.libguides.com/c.php?g=836275&p=5976701
  7. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-cite-a-research-paper
  8. https://copyleaks.com/blog/the-importance-of-bibliography-and-citation
  9. https://library.sacredheart.edu/c.php?g=29803&p=185939

[1] Referred to as Turabian style, which is abbreviated student edition.

[2] Parenthetical in-text citations and a reference list.

[3] Parenthetical in-text citations and works cited.

[4] Pantcheva, Marina (nd). “Citation styles: Vancouver and Harvard system, July 1, 2020.  

[5] University of Birmingham Retrieved 2022-11-03.

[6] Libguides, liu. Cwp “parenthetical Referencing.”

[7] Harvard Research Guide, Citations, 2017-09-05.

[8] APA stand for American Psychological Association. The format is seldom used in high schools, but ironically is used in teachers’ colleges as well as university science departments.

[9] MLA Stand For Modern Language Association, MLA format is used by the university English department and is most common in junior and senior high school English- Language Arts (ELA) Classes.

[10] Chicago Manual of Style 17th ed., All entries in the bibliography will include the author, title and publication information.

[11] Created by Joan M. Reitz, Arts and Humanities Bibilographer at the Ruth A. Hass Library., Western Connecticut State University. (WCSU) in 1972.

[12] A standalone assignment or a component of a larger assignment.

[13] The Greek physician Galen (2nd century) and St. Bede the Venerable (8th century) were among the earliest Western compilers of autobibliographies.

Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are intended solely for informational purposes. Accessing or using the site or the materials does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The information presented on this site is not to be construed as legal or professional advice, and it should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Additionally, the viewpoint presented by the author is of a personal nature.


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