1. Citation 101:
Answering the big questions about citation
An Online Tutorial
brought to you by
2. Watch this tutorial if you:
Have never written a
paper that made you
Want to save
yourself time and
Think citation is
confusing and hard
3. What is citation?
When you start writing in college, you will be
expected to support your statements with credible
sources. This means conducting research and
finding reliable and accurate sources of information.
Citation is giving credit to those sources.
4. What is citation?
Ultimately, when you create a citation, you are giving your
readers (professors) all the information they’d need to go
look up your source for themselves.
You will cite your sources in two main ways:
1. List the complete citation information at the end of the
paper (Works Cited/Bibliography/Reference page)
2. Put a brief reference to your source within your text
whenever you pull information or quotes from that
source (In-text Citation)
5. Why does it matter?
It matters for 3 reasons:
1. The author deserves credit for his/her work. If you
took a beautiful photo or came up with a great idea,
you’d want credit for it too.
2. People are more likely to believe what you are saying if
you make it easy for them to check your facts.
2. Success in college requires it. No matter your major,
professors are going to expect you to cite and cite well.
Don’t get busted for plagiarizing!
6. Why is this stuff so tricky?
• It’s hard to classify what we want to cite.
To know what your citation should include and
look like, you need to know what type of source
you have. A lot of times this gets complicated and
forces us to make tough judgment calls.
Can’t tell the difference between an article in a newspaper, journal,
magazine, or special issue scholarly periodical?
Need help identifying what your source really is?
Ask a librarian! We’re happy to help!
7. Why is this stuff so tricky?
• I just want something to do this for me.
It’s tedious, time-consuming and focuses on details that
seem to have no importance. It seems like by now someone
should have invented something that would do this for us –
and there are things like this out there. But how can you
trust a site to get all these details right if you struggle with
it? Many citation generators are faulty and can lead to
serious citation mistakes. Don’t risk it!
You have to do this for yourself, but you have plenty of resources and people
around to help you through the process! Don’t hesitate to ask for help!
8. Why is this stuff so tricky?
• It’s hard to find all the necessary pieces of
information needed to make citations.
It’s frustrating to search for bits of information that are in
various places on different sources, and sometimes aren’t
present at all. This is especially true for online resources:
unfortunately, many websites don’t include authors’ names
or the dates of their last update.
Again, ask your librarian for help finding citation pieces. They are
information experts and know all the best places to search for this stuff.
9. What are citation styles?
Citation styles are just different ways of
formatting your papers and the information
about your source.
There are several different citation styles.
MLA, APA, and Chicago are the most common
citation styles. You will probably have to use each
of these at some point during your college career.
10. Why are there different styles?
Citation styles are created by organizations that
each tend to cater to an academic discipline.
MLA -- Modern Language Association
(Humanities – English, Literature, Composition & more)
APA -- American Psychological Association
(Social Sciences – Psychology, Sociology, Business, Education & more)
For example, authors are very important to those who study writing or
literature, so in an MLA citation the author’s entire name is listed first.
11. How different are the styles?
Most of the citation styles piece together the same bits of information in
different ways. Here are some common ways that citation styles differ:
• Order of citation information
With APA it’s author-date-title-publication and with MLA it’s author-title-publication-date.
With APA, only the first word, proper nouns, or the first word following a semicolon are
capitalized. MLA and Chicago titles are capitalized according to headline style.
Be sure to follow your guide closely because the placement of punctuation varies from style
to style, and these little details can be tricky!
• Required Information
Most styles want title, author and publication information but some extra information can
be required at times. For example, Chicago style wants a persistent url for articles from
12. See the differences?
These three citations are all for the same online article.
Bonds-Raacke, J. (2008). Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty: Developing a course
APA on Disney and fairytale movies. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 35(3),
232-234. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
Bonds-Raacke, Jennifer M. "Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty: Developing a
MLA Course on Disney and Fairytale Movies." Journal of Instructional
Psychology 35.3 (2008): 232-234. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 16
Bonds-Raacke, Jennifer M. "Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty: Developing a Course on
Disney and Fairytale Movies." Journal of Instructional Psychology 35, no. 3
(September 2008): 232-234. http://dc.opal-libraries.org/login?url=http://
host-live (accessed July 16, 2010).
13. So how do I go about making a citation?
1.Have a citation style manual handy.
Whether online or in book form, this will
tell you what pieces of information to look
for about your source and how to order and
format them properly.
14. So how do I go about making a citation?
2. Look at your source and decide what it is:
Book? Article? Electronic source?
3. Look at the works cited/bibliography part of
your citation style manual and see the
subcategories that fall under your answer for #2.
Book with one author, multiple authors, corporate author,
Browse through all the subcategories and decide
which most closely fits your source.
15. So how do I go about making a citation?
4. Look at an example for this subcategory. Break it
into parts and determine what pieces of
information are you going to need to find about
Title, author name, date, publisher, etc.
5. Find these pieces of information about your source.
6. Bring the pieces together and format them
(capitalization, punctuation, order) as the
example is formatted.
16. Think of it this way:
• Use your Style Manual as a cookbook.
• Look up a specific recipe –
for example, an article from an online journal
• The recipe will vary a bit from cookbook to cookbook
because everyone has a different way of doing things.
• See what ingredients are required for your recipe
and gather them together.
• Follow the recipe’s guidelines exactly, in the
• Savor your finished product – a proper citation!
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If you have any questions about this tutorial,
please get in touch with Pilgrim Library or