As a starter, I am unfamiliar with the bibliography in latex. There are different citation styles like MLA, APA, CHICAGO. Which citation style is that in bibliography page among MLA, APA, CHICAGO? I cannot find this in google so very sorry to ask this simple question in this forum. Alos, how to switch to other styles (among MLA, APA, CHICAGO again) conveniently?

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    default for what? There are several ways for creating a bibliography. Most notably the old and a little rusty bibtex and the more modern biblatex. – MaxNoe Jun 18 '15 at 21:14
  • The one using external bib file (not typing the style on my own). \usepackage{biblatex} and \addbibresource{references.bib}. In references.bib, I type the title, author, year, etc. – Ka-Wa Yip Jun 18 '15 at 21:23
  • Than it's numeric. The references are numbered alphabetically by the authors. The labels look like this [1]. – MaxNoe Jun 18 '15 at 21:25
  • @kwy The default is a numerical style, also known as the vancouver system. – Johannes_B Jun 18 '15 at 21:26
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    Numbered with Arabic numerals in the order of the authors last name. – MaxNoe Jun 18 '15 at 21:28

If you are using biblatex, the default style is numeric. This style creates labels with arabic numbers in brackets and the entries are sorted by the author's last name.


    author = {Jules Winnfield},
    title = {This is a tasty burger},
    journal = {Journal for american pop culture},
    year = {1994},

  style=numeric, % default
  % style=alphabetic,
  % style=authoryear,


See \cite{test1}!

using the default, numeric


You can easily change the style with the style package option, all standard styles are listed in chapter 3.3 of the biblatex documentation: type $ texdoc biblatex in your terminal.

using style=alphabetic:


using style=authoryear


using style=mla


using style=apa

See this answer if you encounter a problem:Polyglossia and biblatex-apa apa

using style=chicago-authordate


  • Thanks. alphabetic and authoryear produce different order in author names (first name and last name) and authoryear also include year immediately after author name. numeric has the same style as alphabetic. However, it seems that none of them comply with MLA, APA, CHICAGO style, where the first name is only indicated as Initial. Is there MLA, APA, CHICAGO style package in latex? – Ka-Wa Yip Jun 19 '15 at 18:33
  • Yes, you can also specify style=apa, style=mla or style=chicago-authordate, there are several more chicago styles. See the documentation: on page 3: ctan.sharelatex.com/tex-archive/macros/latex/contrib/… – MaxNoe Jun 20 '15 at 9:03
  • And there is a biblatex option firstinits=true which forces the abbreviation of the first name – MaxNoe Jun 20 '15 at 9:15
  • I would recommend not loading biblatex-chicago unless you are using a Chicago style (it has two, the traditional notes specification and the authordate specification). For most other styles, you load the "plain" biblatex packages, including for the APA and MLA styles. – jon Jun 20 '15 at 17:41

If you're using BibTeX, there is no default bibliography style. The bibliography style has to be specified explicitly with a \bibliographystyle directive.

Once chosen, the bibliography style generally also imposes a default style for citation call-outs. Some bibliography styles support only one call-out style (e.g., numeric in the case of the plain style), whereas others allow the use of more than one citation call-out style. E.g., plainnat, if used with the natbib package, supports numeric, author-year, and superscript-numbers call-out styles.

Typically, the journal or conference you're submitting a paper to will inform you which bibliography style, and which citation call-out style, should (or must) be selected. The beauty of BibTeX (and biblatex) is that it's generally a no-brainer to switch from one pre-defined bib style to another.

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