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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

Citing: Citation styles

Citation styles

There are many different citation styles. On this and the following pages (click on the links below) we will discuss the four styles that are most frequently used at Utrecht University:

Ask your study coordinator or lecturer which style you should use or which style is most suitable for your situation. You can also look for a specific citation style yourself, for example that of a certain journal.

Referring to your sources

Citation styles per discipline and study programme

Each discipline has its own preferred citation style.

Citation styles come in many shapes and sizes. There are:

  • Citation styles that are laid down for an entire discipline, in other words generic styles (for example: APA, Chicago, MLA, Vancouver.
  • Citation styles specially made for a specific journal or for publications from a specific publisher (for example: Nature, Science).
  • Citation styles that are specially made for one particular publication.

Some citation styles made for a specific journal, such as Nature, became so influential that they are now considered generic styles, widely used outside of the original journal.

In Utrecht the following citation styles are accepted and sometimes also required for papers and theses:


Veterinary Science

  • No required citation style. Consult your study programme for the guidelines or ask your supervisor.


  • Within the Humanities a large number of citation styles is used, including ChicagoMLA and APA. Consult the guidelines of your study programme (for example History Research Guide) or contact your supervisor



  • Earth Sciences: American Society of Agronomy Style handbook (for example Journal of Agronomy)

  • Environmental science: norms from the reader Academic Skills

  • Innovation studies: reader Academic Skills

  • Social Geography & Planning: APA

Law, Administration, Economics

Social Sciences

  • Education & Pedagogy: APA

  • Social Sciences: APA 

  • Cultural Anthropology AAA - Chicago

  • Psychology: APA

Citation styles: 2 basic types

Citation styles can be divided into two basic types:

  1. Author / date style or 'text brackets style': the reference to the source is placed in brackets (D.P. Bergsma et al., 2011). Examples of this type are APA and MLA.
  2. Numeric style references: consecutive numbers in the current text refer to footnotes or endnotes, or a reference list in which the source is mentioned and / or an explanation is given [1]. For example the Nature or the Vancouver Referencing Styles. 

1. Sacks O, Schulman M. Steroid Dementia: an overlooked diagnosis? Neurology. 2005; 64 (4): 707-709.

Some citation styles have both variants, such as the Chicago / Turabian style.

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