5 Things You Never Knew About Citations

Though making citations may seem like a dry subject, these integral elements to research papers have been assisting writers in making cohesive arguments for hundreds of years. Not only do they prevent plagiarism, but they provide guidance to the reader about where the writer found evidence for their claim. So how did citations get started? Why are they sometimes called “citations,” but other times called “references?” Find intriguing facts about citations below that will help you understand the importance of properly citing.

1. There are over 7,000 different citation styles

You may be familiar with Harvard referencing and APA citation style, but did you know that there are thousands of citation styles available to you on Cite This For Me? These styles are used for various academic disciplines all over the world, and are always changing and being updated by their publishing organizations. Confused about which style to choose for your references? You can always ask your instructor for guidance on which is best for your assignment.   

2. Citation styles are varied and uniquely named

Though it may not always be obvious, each citation style was created for a specific academic discipline or organization. For example, the style “Journal of Avian Biology” was written by scholars specifically for articles to be published in the similarly named journal, which focuses on the study of different species of birds. Another example is “Nordic Pulp and Paper Research,” a style used by an international scientific magazine covering science and technology for the areas of wood or bio-mass constituents. Both of these styles and thousands more are available for free on Cite This For Me.

3. There are more references generated monthly on Cite This For Me than there are people living in London

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2017 there were nearly 9 million people living in London and its surrounding areas. In contrast, Cite This For Me averages over 11 million references generated per month. That is a lot of citing!

4. There are citation styles named for specific people

The most common citation styles, such as Harvard referencing and MLA format, are named for the organizations that publish them—the Modern Language Association (MLA), for instance. Did you know, however, that there are some citation styles that are named for individuals? The most well-known of these styles is Turabian, named for the writer and librarian Kate L. Turabian. The origin of the style was her wish to make the Chicago Manual of Style easier to understand and more concise for student researchers. Turabian style is still in use today and is in its 9th edition.

5. “Citations” is a word with a long history

The creation of references to provide evidence in research papers is a concept that is anything but new. The word “citations” can be traced to the latin word “citare,” which means “to summon, urge, call; put in sudden motion, call forward; rouse, excite.” After scholars throughout the ages were “summoning” these pieces of evidence, the word took on its more modern meaning and relevance to writing papers. This occurred formally in the 17th century, where “citations” became known as the “act of citing or quoting a passage from a book, etc.” “References” is another term for this concept that is used often in the U.K. and Australia.


For those in need of more citation information, look no further than the Cite This For Me guides! Find out what is an annotated bibliography, learn how to do in-text citations, and citing other topics.