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There seem to exist many bibliographic reference styles and many universities have their own guidelines too. I wonder, whether there exist any universal guidelines for formatting bibliographic references in publications?

1 Answer 1

As everyone says, there are no universal systems, although there are a few very popular systems. Of course you should use reference software, but if you are asking which style you should use for general purpose citations outside of publishing, I would just pick one of the most popular, depending on your discipline.

  • Chicago style seems flexible and perhaps the least field specific.
  • APA style is popular in the life sciences and psychology, of course. But, I don't know if it is so popular in the humanities.
  • MLA style seems to be the most popular in the humanities.

If you are not instructed to use a specific one, all of them give the necessary information in a bibliography/reference list format (that is, the full title, authors, dates). I think the issue that might be field specific is in-text citations, but that is not your question. If you pick one and use it consistently in any given document, I am certain it will be internationally understood.

Keep in mind you do not need to learn all the details- just select the option in the software and make sure any imported references (from old PDF's, etc.) are correct. I like Mendeley.