Skip to main content
Humanities Libertexts

14.3: Citation

[ "article:topic", "authorname:akinonen" ]
  • Page ID
    6314
  • ef7cd6c9e908ab4845e71a4f90d830cea.png

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) - Photo by Pixabay

    Introduction

    Any time you use in your paper information from someone else that you paraphrase, summarize, or quote from another source, you must give the author or the publication proper credit. Failure to do so is considered plagiarism.

    Plagiarism can be avoided by using 1) parenthetical citations (aka in-text citations) within the text of your paper or essay and by including 2) a list of your sources at the end of your paper or essay. In MLA, this list of sources is titled Works Cited, and in APA, the list is titled References. Both items, parenthetical citations and list of sources at the end of your paper, are necessary in order to properly give credit to your source and avoid plagiarism.

    The specific details of how to cite sources are prescribed in various citation styles. One of the most common writing systems in the educational systems is the Modern Language Association (MLA) style of writing. Most students learn first how to write using the MLA format in elementary school. Another very common writing system frequently used by the social sciences is the American Psychological Association (APA) format.

    Citing Outside Sources In-Text

    Your in-text citations should correspond to the first item listed in your list of sources which is usually the author’s last name. For example, if the in-text citation looks like this:

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\): MLA parenthetical citation

    In a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (Booth 216).

    Then by going to the Works Cited page and looking down the list of sources, the name “Booth” should start the citation. For example,

    Example \(\PageIndex{2}\): MLA Works Cited page

    Works Cited

    Booth, Fredrick. The Effect of Hemingway on Alaska. Hartford: Wilmington UP, 1998.

    Aim to provide as much necessary information as possible in your citations. For example, if the text has no identifiable author, then the Works Cited citation will begin with the article title, and the parenthetical citation will include the first word(s) of the article title in the same format as it appears in the Works Cited (quotation marks, italics, etc.).

    Parenthetical Citations

    Parenthetical Citations serve to inform your reader of where you found the data or quotation you are providing to them. Generally, in MLA, if you are citing more than one source, you should include the author’s or editor’s name and the page number in your parenthetical citation. For example: (Jones 127). If you are only using a single source which is already identified elsewhere in the text, simply use the page number.

    MLA Parenthetical/In-Text Citation Examples

    Example \(\PageIndex{3}\): 

    Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life. In a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (Booth 216). Later that year, Hemingway went on to request, and to be granted, an audience with the President where he shared a multitude of research against drilling (Goodview 98). Hemingway, along with countless other supporters, continued to call upon legislators from both sides of the aisle until the idea of Alaskan oil exploration was naught, or so they thought. “It is a victory for all the inhabitants of the earth that the State of Alaska’s natural beauty, wonder, and habitat will remain unharmed by human greed so that our children and grandchildren and generations after them will be able to catch a glimpse of an unspoiled planet” (Chandler 143). The idea of an unspoiled planet was, unfortunately, relatively short lived.

    You may also mention the author’s name within the text rather than in a parenthetical citation.

    Example \(\PageIndex{4}\):

    Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life. According to Booth, in a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (216). Goodview reports that later that year Hemingway went on to request, and to be granted, an audience with the President where he shared a multitude of research against drilling (98).

    If a source has two to three authors, mention all the names within the text, or in a parenthetical citation, separated by “and.”

    Example \(\PageIndex{5}\):

    Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life. According to Booth and Goodview, in a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (216). Later that year Hemingway went on to request, and to be granted, an audience with the President where he shared a multitude of research against drilling (Goodview, Chandler, and Smith 98).

    If your source has four or more authors, you may mention only the first author’s last name followed by “et al.,” or you may use all the author’s last names.

    Example \(\PageIndex{6}\):

    Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life. According to Booth et al., in a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (216). Later that year Hemingway went on to request, and to be granted, an audience with the President where he shared a multitude of research against drilling (Goodview et al., 98).

    More detailed information regarding MLA in-text citations can be found at Guide to Writing: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/styleguide/chapter/mla-in-text-citations/ or Purdue Online Writing Lab: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/11/ 

    APA Parenthetical/In-Text Citation Examples

    In APA format, you also include the author’s name in parenthetical citations; however, whenever you use the author’s name in APA, you must also include the date of the publication. Commas are also used within the parentheses to set off different pieces of information.

    Example \(\PageIndex{7}\):

    Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life. In a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (Booth, 2000, p. 216). Later that year, Hemingway went on to request, and to be granted, an audience with the President where he shared a multitude of research against drilling (Goodview, 1998, p. 98). Hemingway, along with countless other supporters, continued to call upon legislators from both sides of the aisle until the idea of Alaskan oil exploration was naught, or so they thought. “It is a victory for all the inhabitants of the earth that the State of Alaska’s natural beauty, wonder, and habitat will remain unharmed by human greed so that our children and grandchildren and generations after them will be able to catch a glimpse of an unspoiled planet” (Chandler, 1985, p. 143). The idea of an unspoiled planet was, unfortunately, relatively short lived.

    You may also mention the author’s name within the text.

    Example \(\PageIndex{8}\):

    According to Booth (2000), Hemingway's arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life. In a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (p. 216). Goodview (1998) notes that Later that year Hemingway went on to request, and to be granted, an audience with the President where he shared a multitude of research against drilling (p. 98). Hemingway, along with countless other supporters, continued to call upon legislators from both sides of the aisle until the idea of Alaskan oil exploration was naught, or so they thought. One of these members is quoted by Chandler (1998) as saying of this time, "It is a victory for all the inhabitants of the earth that the State of Alaska's natural beauty, wonder, and habitat will remain unharmed by human greed so that our children and grandchildren and generations after them will be able to catch a glimpse of an unspoiled planet" (p. 143). The idea of an unspoiled planet was, unfortunately, relatively short lived.

    If you need to cite two authors of the same work who are mentioned within the text, use both their last names and separate it with “and.”

    Example \(\PageIndex{9}\):

    According to Chandler and Goodview (2004), Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life. In a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (p. 216).

    If you do not mention the two author’s names within the text, you do so in parenthesis using an ampersand instead of the word “and.”

    Example \(\PageIndex{10}\):

    Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life. In a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (Chandler & Goodview, 2004, p. 216).

    If you have three to five authors, list them all by last name the first time you mention them in the text. Thereafter, only use the first author’s last name followed by “et al.”

    Example \(\PageIndex{11}\):

    According to Chandler, Goodview, and Petty (2004), Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life. In a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (p. 216). Chandler et al. (2004) also noted that...

    If you mention the authors in parenthetical citations instead of within the text, follow the same guidelines as noted above.

    Example \(\PageIndex{12}\):

    Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life. In a 1949 visit to members of Congress, Hemingway repeatedly reported of the natural beauty that would be destroyed by exploring for oil in Alaska (Chandler, Goodview & Petty, 2004, p. 216). Later that year Hemingway went on to request, and to be granted, an audience with the President where he shared a multitude of research against drilling (Goodview, 1998, p. 98). Hemingway, along with countless other supporters, continued to call upon legislators from both sides of the aisle until the idea of Alaskan oil exploration was naught, or so they thought. “It is a victory for all the inhabitants of the earth that the State of Alaska’s natural beauty, wonder, and habitat will remain unharmed by human greed so that our children and grandchildren and generations after them will be able to catch a glimpse of an unspoiled planet” (Chandler et al., 2004, p. 143). The idea of an unspoiled planet was, unfortunately, relatively short lived.

    If you have six or more authors, list only the first author’s last name followed by “et al.”

    Example \(\PageIndex{13}\):

    According to Chandler et al. (2007), Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life.

    If you do not know the author’s name, use a portion of the article or book title instead. Titles of articles are placed within quotes. Book and report titles are italicized or underlined. (Note that in APA only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns are capitalized.

    Example \(\PageIndex{14}\):

    Hemingway’s arguments against oil drilling in Alaska continued to intensify in his later life (“Hemingway’s battle for Alaska,” 2001).

    More detailed information regarding APA in-text citations can be found at

    Guide to Writing: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/styleguide/chapter/apa-in-text-citations/ or Purdue Online Writing Lab: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/10/

    Citing Outside Sources in a Bibliography

    While parenthetical in-text citations already indicate the sources of the information, a full identification of the cited sources is required to make it possible for the reader to unambiguously locate the source in a library or on the internet. The list of fully identified sources usually goes at the end of your paper, into a bibliography section. A full identification of a source usually includes the year of publication, the authors, the title of the work, the publishing organization, and more. The information included in the full identification of a source varies with the publication style such as MLA style and APA style. MLA records sources in its Works Cited page, while APA records sources in its References page.

    MLA Works Cited

    To record your sources in MLA, you create your Works Cited page. To write your MLA works cited list, follow the steps below.

    1. Start a new page for your list, and center the words “Works Cited” at the top of the page. There is no need to format the words any different than the rest of your text, so don’t waste your time by underlining, italicizing, or making them bold.
    2. Number this page in continuation of the pages in your essay or research work.
    3. Start each entry flush with the left margin. Indent any subsequent lines five (5) spaces.
    4. Alphabetize your sources by the first word of the entry unless it begins with “A,” “An,” or “The,” in which case you would alphabetize by the second word.

    APA References

    To cite your sources in APA format, you create your References page. To write your References page, follow the steps below.

    1. Start a new page for your list, and center the word “References” at the top of the page. There is no need to format the words any different than the rest of your text, so don’t waste your time by underlining, italicizing, or making them bold. 
    2. Number this page in continuation of the pages in your essay or research work.
    3. Start each entry flush with the left margin. Indent any subsequent lines 1/2 inch, and double space the entries like the rest of your paper.
    4. Alphabetize your sources by the first word of the entry unless it begins with “A,” “An,” or “The,” in which case you would alphabetize by the second word.
    5. In dealing with the titles of all books, articles, or webpages, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of a title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and all proper nouns
    6. Capitalize all major words in journal titles.
    7. Italicize or underline book and journal titles. (Be consistent, always italicize, or always underline, but never use both.)
    8. Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as journal articles or essays in edited collections

    For information on how to properly cite MLA or APA entries in a Works Cited or References page, consult these resources: Guide to Writing, LumenLearning Style Guide, Modules 7 (MLA) and 8 (APA) or The Owl Purdue’s online writing guide

    • Was this article helpful?