How to Cite a Syllabus

Not only does including citations help to avoid accusations of plagiarism, but it also demonstrates a writer’s integrity and ability to engage in a formal scholarly conversation. When a course syllabus contributes information to your paper, you need to cite it. Each set of academic style guidelines provides guidelines for how to do this, with the general goal of giving readers a reliable path for finding the source.

MLA Style

The most common standard for citing sources in the liberal arts and humanities is Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Its instructions in the seventh edition for citing a course syllabus aren't too different from those for citing standard types of sources. To properly cite a syllabus in MLA, follow this format:

Professor’s Name. Course Syllabus Title. Date of the Course. Department and Institution Name, Location. Publication Medium.

For example,

Sullivan, Danielle. Modern Fiction Syllabus. 2011. Literature Department, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. Microsoft Word File.

APA Format

The American Psychological Association (APA) style guide is typically used for students and academics in the social sciences. This style guide sets clear guidelines for the correct citation of a variety of course materials. APA style requires the inclusion of the elements listed in this format, varying the order of key elements slightly from MLA style:

Professor’s Name. (Date/Year of Course). Course Title [Syllabus]. Location: Department and Institution Name.

For example,

Sullivan, Danielle. (2011). Modern Fiction [Syllabus]. New Brunswick, NJ: Literature Department, Rutgers University.

Chicago Style

The Chicago Manual of Style, one of the most comprehensive manuals available, is used for all subject areas and is the preferred style for many books, magazines and newspapers. It does not provide instructions for citing class handouts, like syllabi. In this case, follow the format for citing lectures. When citing a syllabus in Chicago style, include these details:

Note Number. Professor’s First Name Last Name, " Course Syllabus Title," (type of document, University, Location, Date).

For example,

1. Sullivan, Danielle. "Modern Fiction" (syllabus, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, 2011).

This entry is included in the footnotes. The Chicago style uses a footnote and bibliography method, with different formats for the note and bibliography entries. Following is the corresponding bibliographic entry for this source:

Sullivan, Danielle. "Modern Fiction." Syllabus, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, 2011.

In-Text Citations

In addition to including full citations in a works cited page or bibliography, citations within the work are important. These parenthetical notes include basic identifying information that links to the full citation at the end of your paper.

Following are examples of the three styles covered:


"Quotation text" (Sullivan 4).

Note that the author's (or professor's) name is used with the page number of this multipage syllabus.

Alternatively, your in-text citation can be written like this:

Sullivan explains on page four of her syllabus, "Quotation text."


For APA in-text citations, include the professor's last name, year of syllabus and page number, if applicable:

According to Sullivan (2004), "Quoted text" (p. 3).


The Chicago style typically uses a footnote and bibliography style with different formats for the note and bibliography entries. However, it may also use a system of in-text citation followed by a works cited list. If your instructor has you use this method, in-text citations for a course syllabus would include the professor's last name, date of course and page number, if relevant:

"Quoted text" (Sullivan 2011, 2).

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