A citation identifies a book, periodical article, or other information resource. A citation will include the basic pieces of information necessary to allow you to find the article. That same information is used to create the list of references, or bibliography you will put in your research paper. Your instructor can then use the citations in the bibliography of your paper to identify and locate those same articles.
A single citation is sometimes called a "reference." A list of citations is generally known as a "bibliography," although sometimes the list is called simply a "works cited" page or "list of references."
When you place citations in your research paper, they must be written in a correct format by following the style manual of a particular discipline. Citation styles you may be required to use are:
The following are basic elements of a citation. Depending on the citation style, you may also include a URL or DOI if the resource you are citing is electronic.