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A citation is a way of giving credit to individuals for their creative and intellectual works that you utilized to support your research. It can also be used to locate particular sources and combat plagiarism. Typically, a citation can include the author's name, date, location of the publishing company, journal title, or DOI (Digital Object Identifer). A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting. This is generally considered an abbreviated form of citation, and it does not require footnotes or endnotes, although it does require the equivalent of a "Works Cited" page at the end of the paper. It is easier to write, but might interfere with how smoothly your work reads.
With so many different citation styles, how do you know which one is right for your paper? First, we strongly recommend asking your instructor. There are several factors which go into determining the appropriate citation style, including discipline (priorities in an English class might differ from those of a Psychology class, for example), academic expectations (papers intended for publication might be subject to different standards than mid-term papers), the research aims of an assignment, and the individual preference of your instructor.