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DCMI Citations Working Group

Citation Styles

Dublin Core Metadata Initiative - Citation Working Group

24 October 2006

This version:

Editor: Ann Apps <>

MIMAS, The University of Manchester, UK

Contributor: Eric Childress, OCLC

Status of this document: Completed Working Group Resource

Description: This document contains details of citation styles which could be used as encoding schemes for a citation identifier.


There may be utility in registering with DCMI as encoding schemes tokens for selected citation guides to allow users to identify a citation scheme that guided their citation text. This might facilitate conversion of text to a structured form, but it also seems quite possible that bibliographers and others would be pleased to use and to find 'DC.Identifier.citation, scheme=mla' ("MLA" style) over 'DC.Identifier.citation' (even if the form of the "free" text follows MLA) to expressly identify the scheme guiding any formally-prepared citation. Librarians might even choose to add the same citation in a record in more than one style as an aid to students/researchers in which case a scheme would be particularly helpful.

There seem to be lots of style manuals (see a brief listing below), but probably a small number see the widest use. It may be best to pursue a small number of these, at least initially, as schemes for registering (perhaps Chicago, MLA, APA).

Citaton Style Variations

Reference styles tend to be peculiar to disciplines and to vary in the following ways. The ISO and NISO standards are probably not in themselves a sufficient guide to all of these variations.

  • The order of elements (especially elements such as initials)
  • The mandatoriness of elements (e.g. many chemistry styles leave out the article title, but biology and medicine wouldn't)
  • The punctuation between the elements
  • Capitalisation. E.g. of titles - some styles use "title case" (i.e. initial capitals for all main words) and some use "sentence case" (i.e. initial capitals for first word and proper nouns and adjectives only)
  • Acceptable abbreviations (especially regarding journal title abbreviations, but also element indicators such as "chapter/chap/ch", "editor(s)/edited by/ed(s)", "edition/edn/ed"
  • Character formatting (i.e. what goes in italic, bold, etc.)

Citation Style Guides

[A brief and not scientific or comprehensive study.]


In looking at MARC 21, a small number of citation styles are currently defined (all for legal style guides).

re00524bMARC 21 - FIELD 524 (Preferred Citation of Described Materials Note)

Bieber's dictionary of legal citation (Buffalo, NY: W.S.Hein)
Fundamentals of legal research (Westbury, NY: Foundation Press)
Guide to legal citation and sources of citation aid (Don Mills, ON: De Boo)
A Uniform system of citation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Law Review Association)

For English language legal materials this should probably also be added:

  • Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation. 4th edition. Scarborough, On: Carswell, 1998.


  • ISO 690-2 : Information and documentation -- Bibliographic references

  • ANSI/NISO Z39.29-2003 : National Information Standards Organization (US). Bibliographic references. Betheda (MD): NISO Press; 2003.

  • Chicago : The Chicago Manual of Style. 14th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993 & Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 6th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996

  • The Columbia Guide to Online Style by Janice R. Walker and Todd Taylor (Columbia UP, 1998) presents a guide to locating, translating, and using the elements of citation for both a humanities style (i.e., MLA and Chicago ) and a scientific style ( APA and CBE ) for electronically-accessed sources

  • United States Government Printing Office style manual. Washington: The Office; 2000.


  • MLA : Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 5th edition. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1999

Social Sciences


  • Harvard and Vancouver systems:

  • Patrias, Karen. National Library of Medicine Recommended Formats for Bibliographic Citation (Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1991)

  • Patrias, Karen. National Library of Medicine recommended formats for bibliographic citation. Supplement: Internet formats [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): The Library; 2001 Jul. Available from:

  • CBE : Scientific style and Format: the CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers. 6th edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994 [Council of Biology Editors]

  • International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. CMAJ 1997;156:270-7

  • Iverson, Cheryl; Flanagin, Annette; Fontanarosa, Phil B., et al. American Medical Association manual of style: a guide for authors and editors. 9th ed. Baltimore (MD): Williams & Wilkins; 1997.

  • ACS : Dodd, Janet S., editor. The ACS style guide: a manual for authors and editors. 2nd ed. Washington: American Chemical Society; 1997.

Several useful sites that list style guides