This guide aims to help students better understand why papers require citation, what type of information is used in citing, and how to cite using the three most common citation styles: APA, CMS/Turabian, and MLA.
Citations are a way for writers to acknowledge where they have obtained information. They are broken into two categories: in-text citations, which gives readers a short version of where the information came from while they are reading, and works cited pages, which offer a full version of where the information came from (located at the end of a paper, chapter, or book). Works cited pages are also frequently called references pages and bibliographies.
Citing is important, both in-text and in a works cited or reference page. When sources aren't cited, it's considered stealing the information from them. Research should be shared between people, whether it's students in a class, businesses, or developers; however, students must be able to show where the information was obtained. This is so the person who wrote the original information gets credit, but it also gives the idea some authority, showing that someone else has had this idea. It allows instructors to backtrack and see if the information is verifiable and determine how accurate it is. Of course, it's also important because most instructors require it!
According to the OWL at Purdue website, citations (in-text and works cited) are required whenever text is directly quoted (taken word for word, such as copy and pasting), when paraphrasing (re-writing the text, but keeping the same general language), and when the general ideas are summarized. The MLA Handbook says that citations aren't necessary for knowledge that the general reader has. For example, citations would not be necessary if the paper included that Shakespeare was a British poet and playwright, because the majority of students and instructors would be familiar with that. On the other hand, quoting "...Shakespeare, along with various other wealthy citizens of Stratford, became involved in a rather complicated controversy involving a plan to enclose farming lands..." from page 21 in The Complete Works of Shakespeare (1971), a citation would be required. This is because the majority of readers would not be familiar with this information. If they wanted to find out more information, they could then look to page 21 in the book.
Citations are generally created using writing styles or citation styles. The two styles most likely to be used at GNTC are the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Modern Language Association (MLA) styles. Other styles include Chicago, Turabian, Associated Press, and more. The APA and MLA styles will be covered on the pages relating to this guide.
Now, with a better understanding of what a citation is and why it is necessary, the next step is to know what kind of information goes into a citation and where to find it. The format and documentation of the information changes depending on the style required; however, the basic information required tends to be the same. Not every style will require every element listed below, but it is best to keep all of the information.
To properly cite a book, take note of this information:
To properly cite an article from a journal, magazine, or newspaper, take note of this information:
To properly cite a web site or other online source, take note of this information:
There are many other places to get information. To cite from these, it is always best to check in a stylebook or with your instructor for specific instructions, as well as including the following:
Knowing what information is needed, it's time to find it. This is best done at the same time as research. If information from a book, website, or journal might be useful, go ahead and copy down the publication information beforehand so it won't be forgotten and can be easily located in the future.
Most of the citation information in the average book will be located on the title page. This is usually the second or third page in the book. The front side will have the title and the author's name as well as the publisher. Sometimes it even has the publisher's location.
The back side will have the date of publication, and if the front did not have it, it will have the publication information such as location and publisher name.
In a print article, such as one taken from a journal in the library, the citation information is typically located on the front cover or on the article itself. If the information is located on the article, the name and the title will be on the first page of the article and the journal title and page numbers will be located on the top or bottom of most or all pages.
Many online databases will provide the information for a citation. In GALILEO it will look like this:
GALILEO also offers premade citations. Be careful to check the formatting and information in a premade citation before using it.
Finding information on a website can be much more difficult. If a website is not designed with researchers in mind, the information can be hidden. The best bet is to start with the "About Us" page if there is one. Many sites that would be considered acceptable for research will have the information in easy to find locations, such as at the bottom of the page. That will usually include the copyright date and the author or publisher of the site. The URL can always be found at the top of the browser. The title of the page is often located at the top of the page.
Information for other sources can be found in a variety of places. Explore, looking for anything dealing with publication information, dates, "about", and similar sections. If you need more help, talk to a librarian or ask the instructor.