I am familiar with writing the citation part (in different styles). However, I have typically just used superscripts like Wikipedia to reference the citation, like this[1] sort of thing. I would like to get more advanced with it to make it easier for the reader to glean more information from the citation reference.

So I'm thinking something like this (Glen89) where author is Glen and year of publication is 89. But then what if there are multiple publications in 89 for Glen, then it would be perhaps (Glen89a) and (Glen89b).

But that isn't too descriptive. I have seen some cases where they list the publisher as well, like (Glen: MacMillan 89), but that is too long and specific to books.

In general I'm wondering the rules for how to do this, and wondering where I can get some inspiration for how to write these, if not a straight answer here on what a good style is.


4 Answers 4


Don't reinvent the wheel: There are existing systems that collect bibliographic data and then produce the appropriate citation in the text. Bibtex and Microsoft Endnote are the most widely used ones. How the citation in the text appears is controlled by "style files" that are often different between journals, but every journal has its own preferred style that you should use.


The other answers mention software, but in fact citation styles are not ad-hoc systems imposed by software but there exist citation styles developed to define them. These are usually part of a general style. Common styles include AMA (number reference) and APA (author-date reference). There are many other styles with variations on details like format of the bibliography or the sorting of references, but generally I think the reasonable options are either numerical reference (such as AMA) if you'd rather have brevity, or author-date if you'd rather have more readability (author-dates are easier to remember than numbers). Many programs will indeed implement such styles for you.

Usually whatever you are writing for will already require a specific citation style. I would figure this out. Even if you are writing for your personal use only, it's a good idea to pick a style or journal and stick to it anyway. That way recycling your notes for publication will be easier, and you will also get used to an important style. Journals will usually describe their required style in submission guidelines. Courses will say it in syllabus or assignment text, but if not, feel free to ask the instructor.


Use an existing system, e.g., LaTeX/BibTeX (the alpha style produces [Glen89a] and [Glen89b]) or Word/Endnote. See https://www.overleaf.com/learn/latex/Bibtex_bibliography_styles for examples of different BibTeX styles.


This webpage has examples of different BibTeX styles; perhaps one of these would be of use.

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