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Module 4: Synthesizing & Using Sources: Formatting Research

Style Formats

College research is formatted in a precise way, from the cover page to the bibliography. The common formatting styles are APA (American Psychological Association); MLA (Modern Language Association); and the Chicago style. There are hundreds more but these are the top three.

Booth Library has the current editions of the APA, MLA, and the Chicago style manuals at the Information Desk.

For further assistance, check out the links below:


University of Guelph Library.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Bibliography & Ethics

Each style (e.g. APA, MLA, etc.) will teach you how to format a paper, from the cover page to the bibliography. Your instructor will tell you which style to use for your research paper.

Why a bibliography? Three reasons:

  1. When you write a formal paper you will be incorporating the ideas of other people into your work. If you use someone's idea you must give them credit.This is the ethical use of information - give credit where credit is due.
  2. You are writing a paper that proves you understand a topic or idea. This includes an understanding of what other people think about your chosen topic. How well do you incorporate these ideas into your research project? One criteria for proving your understanding is by submitting a properly cited paper and bibliography.
  3. You are also learning how to communicate in a professional setting. College students all over the country, who have declared the same major as you, are learning these same skills. For example, if your profession uses the APA format and, after graduation your supervisor hands you a report written in the APA style, you will understand how to present a professional response.

Managing Sources

Tracking the sources you use in your research is an important component of the process. Keeping track is important for proper citations and your bibliography.

  • Download and save articles as you find them.
  • Note original thoughts from books including bibliographic details.
  • Use database features that allow you to save sources and note citation suggestions.
  • Using Microsoft Word’s “Manage Sources” feature (under “References).

Getting started with Zotero