When you need to refer to another work—a book, journal article, Web page, or interview—you have to cite the source accurately and succinctly. Loved and loathed by scholars the world over, the citation, that indispensable and unavoidable footnote to any kind of serious research, provides a standardized style for these vital scraps of information. However, getting all those commas, colons, quote marks, italics, and underlines in just the right places has driven many great minds to near distraction—and created employment for many grad students as publication deadlines loom.

One standard format for citations is called MLA (Modern Language Association) style, and it looks like this:

Smith, Charles D. “The ‘Crisis of Orientation’: The Shift of Egyptian Intellectuals to Islamic Subjects in the 1930s.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 4 (1973): 382–410.


The three biggies in the style world are MLA, favored by humanities scholars; APA (American Psychological Association), favored by psychologists and sociologists; and CMS or Chicago (Chicago Manual of Style), favored by historians. For more information visit any of their Web sites:,, and

Word 2008’s Citations feature can make even the most staid academics utter a subdued “Ye haw!” The Citations Palette occupies prime real estate in the Toolbox, two tabs to the right of the Formatting Palette. It’s essentially a mini database dedicated to tracking every possible ...

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