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Citation Styles and Management Tools Guide

Overview of citations and guides to commonly used citation styles.

Why is Citation Important?

Whenever you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or otherwise refer to the work of another, you must cite the source.

Your citations are like your paper's family tree. They show the difference between the ideas of others that you are responding to, and your own originality. Citation helps to clearly document the research you have done on your topic, and is very useful as you evaluate evidence and respond to the work of others.


  • Give credit where credit is due
  • Allow your readers to verify your research
  • Help your readers situate your ideas within a scholarly conversation
  • Allow you to strengthen your argument by properly introducing evidence
  • Help you avoid plagiarism

If you have any questions about citations, you can use the Ask a Librarian Chat for help.

Understanding Citations

These pages provide more information on citations, integrating sources into your paper, and how to read citations.

ChatGPT & Other Generative AI Tools

Confirm with your instructor if the use of ChatGPT or other generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools is allowed for your assignment.  Your instructor may also have a specific way they would like you to cite AI content.

When an assignment allows AI tools to be cited, you must cite any AI-generated material that informed you work. This includes if you use an AI tool to help write or structure your paper, even if you do not otherwise quote or paraphrase its content. You must acknowledge your use of the AI tool to provide transparency to your reader. Using an AI tool to generate content without proper attribution qualifies as academic dishonesty.

Citations allow readers to locate and verify the sources used and to follow the scholarly conversation around a particular topic. Because ChatGPT provides different responses to the same prompt, it is helpful to include the full response generated in an appendix or online document that can be linked to, helping your readers get to the original content being cited.

If possible, you should always check and verify all of the information provided by ChatGPT, and cite the original sources provided, instead of the AI.

Citing generative AI content for specific referencing styles

It is recommended to base the citation for generative AI content on the reference style for personal communication or correspondence; content from generative AI is a nonrecoverable source as it can't be retrieved or linked.

Guidance from APA Style

APA Style recommends describing how the tool was used  in the Method section or in another comparable section. Provide the prompt used and then any portion of the relevant text that was generated in response. It is particularly important to document the exact text created because ChatGPT will generate a unique response in each chat session, even if given the same prompt; the full text of long responses from ChatGPT may be placed in an appendix of the paper or in online supplemental materials, so readers have access to the exact text that was generated.
Credit the author of the algorithm (e.g., OpenAI) with a reference list entry and the corresponding in-text citation

Sample Citation Format: OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model].

Guidance from MLA Style

MLA Style recommends citing a generative AI tool whenever you paraphrase, quote, or incorporate into your own work any content (whether text, image, data, or other) that was created by it; acknowledging all functional uses of the tool (like editing prose or translating words) in a note, the text, or another suitable location; and vetting the secondary sources it cites. 

Sample Citation Format: “Describe the symbolism of the green light in the book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald” prompt. ChatGPT, 13 Feb. version, OpenAI, 8 Mar. 2023,

Guidance from Chicago Style

Chicago Style states to credit ChatGPT when you reproduce its words within your own work, but that information should be put in the text or in a note—not in a bibliography or reference list. Other AI-generated text can be cited similarly. If you’ve edited the AI-generated text, you should say so in the text or at the end of the note (e.g., “edited for style and content”) Include the prompt you used in the text of your work, or it can be included in the note.

Sample Notes Format:
1. Text generated by ChatGPT, March 7, 2023, OpenAI,
1. ChatGPT, response to “Explain how to make pizza dough from common household ingredients,” March 7, 2023, OpenAI.


ChatGPT and AI tools are not knowledge creation tools.  At best, they are unreliable, and can produce incorrect or biased information.  It is your responsibility to always verify information obtained from an AI tool before including it in your work.


Information about using and referencing ChatGPT and other generative AI tools is still being developed and will continue to be updated.

Online Citation Tools

Citation Tools in Databases

Examples of buttons in databases that will automatically create a citation if clicked

When you're using the General Search or browsing library databases, keep an eye out for buttons like these. They will create a citation for you to use!  Always check that a generated citation is correct.

If you need to create just a few citations, we recommend Zoterobib. ZoteroBib is a free, fast citation generator that is similar to (but more accurate and reliable than) tools such as EasyBib and NoodleTools.
This tool provides very quick assistance in creating citations; it does not have the same functionality as the Zotero application.

If you need more functionality, e.g., you are working on a longer-term project, need to create a long bibliography, want to build a library to use across multiple projects, or want to share citations with others, we recommend looking at the Citation Management Tools page on this guide.

Remember: It is always your responsibility to double-check that your citation is accurate!

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