As with everything having to do with research, these are guidelines that are true most of the time.  There are dozens, probably hundreds, of potential source types out there, and there are thousands of different citation styles!  No one could possibly list them all.

If you look through these tips and still aren't sure what type of source you have -- ask for help!  

If your source is a book, the citation will probably have...

  • One single title.
  • Information about the publisher (a location, and the name of the publishing company).
  • No information about page numbers.

If your source is a book chapter or other excerpt, the citation will probably have...

  • Two titles (one for the chapter and one for the whole book).
  • An author listed and an editor listed.
  • Information about the publisher (a location, and the name of the publishing company).
  • Specific page numbers.

If your source is a newspaper article, the citation will probably have...

  • A publication date that includes the month and day as well as the year.
  • Page numbers that start with a letter (e.g. A5 or C10) -- unless it is an online-only newspaper.

(The author may provide another hint; many published newspaper articles have no author listed)

If your source is a journal article, the citation will probably have...

  • Two titles (one for the chapter and one for the journal).
  • No separate editor listed.
  • Specific page numbers.
  • No publisher information.
  • A volume number and/or issue number (common formats for these are 34(6) or 34:6.