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Citation

Telling your reader where you found the words or ideas in your paper.

Using outside sources

Sometimes when you write an essay or discussion post you use ideas and facts that you found somewhere else.

This is called “using outside sources.”

A source is the webpage, book, article, or another place where you found the facts or ideas.

What is a citation?

Every time you use an outside source, you must tell the reader exactly where you found the information. This is called a “citation.”

A citation is information to help your reader find the exact source you used.

When do I write a citation?

You must write a citation every time you use an idea or fact which you found someplace else.

  • Write a citation after you paraphrase
  • Write a citation after you quote
If you do not write a citation, you are plagiarizing.

Why do I need a citation?

Citations are an important part of your paper:

They help your reader:

  • Learn more about your topic
  • Location your source if they have a question

Parts of a citation

Let’s learn about citations in two steps:

  1. We will learn about basic parts of a citation
  2. We will learn exactly how to write a citation

To help us get started, let’s look at a sample student paper for an LA108 class.

Parts of a citation: in-text reference

Citation example #1

This is a sample paragraph from an LA108 student’s paper. The topic is the biography of American artist Grant Woods.

Citation example #2

Notice that the student copies some important ideas from a book she read – and she puts the ideas between quotation marks.

Citation example #3

Then, immediately after the quote, the student adds a short in-text reference which gives a little information about the book.

The purpose of the in-text reference is to show your reader exactly which facts or ideas came from an outside source.

However, you also need to give your reader exact information to show them exactly where you found the facts or ideas.

Let’s learn about that now

Parts of a citation: Works cited

At the end of your essay, you include a list of all the outside sources from your essay. This called your works cited list.

The works cited list includes all the information about the source: author, title, date, etc.

Works Cited example #1

Parts of citation: review

Your essay must include both in-text reference and a works cited page.

citation-parts-3
Your essay must include both in-text reference and a works cited page.

Your essay must include both in-text reference and a works cited page.

How to write a citation

Now we know that your paper or discussion topic should always include:

  • In-text citation
  • Works-cited list

Let’s learn about how exactly to write them.

MLA format

There are many different styles for writing a citation.

In most classes at the Academy of Art University, students should use the Modern Language Association (MLA) format.

We will learn about in-text references first.

MLA format: in-text references

Remember, the purpose of the in-text reference is to show your reader exactly which facts or ideas came from an outside source.

Therefore, when you write your in-text reference, you only need to include a little information.

Here are some examples for the types of sources most commonly used by AAU students:

Type of source

Books

Magazine/newspaper

Website

In-Text reference

(Heller 27)

(Morrison 55)

(metmuseum.org)

 

The in-text reference for books, magazines, and newspapers contains:

  • The author’s last name
  • Page number where the fact or idea was found.

The in-text reference for a website contains one of the following:

  • Author’s last name
  • Title of work if author not found
  • Partial url i.e. metmuseum.org if author or title not found

MLA format: Work-cited page

At the end of your essay or discussion post, you should include a detailed list of all the outside sources you used.

Discussion posts and works cited

Some teachers do not want you to create a works-cited page for your discussion posts.

You should ask your teacher what to do in this situation.

Remember, the purpose of the works-cited page is to help your reader find the exact fact or idea you used.

Typically, your works-cited page will include:

  • Author’s name
  • Name of the article
  • Name of publication or website
  • Date of the article or book “n.d.” if no date found
  • Page number of the article
  • Exact website address

Here is a sample of the student’s works-cited list

works-cited-1
works-cited-2

Notice how the items in this list are directly connected to the in-text reference from your paper.

works-cited-4
works-cited-5

Notice how the items in this list are directly connected to the in-text reference from your paper.

MLA Help

It can be confusing to write your works cited page. However, there are many websites which will help you do this. All you have to do is answer some questions about your outside source. Here are a few websites you can use:

www.easbib.com

www.palomar.edu/pages/library/research-help/citation-style-guides/mla-style/

www.citationmachine.net

Review

Every time you use an outside source you must include both:

  1. A brief in-text reference immediately following your paraphrase or quotations ()’s.
  2. A detailed entry in your works-cited list at the end of your paper.