Citing Sources

What is a citation? A citation is label a writer uses to identify the source of the writer's information. Usually, in writing for high school and college, we use parenthetical citations, labels that are inside parentheses immediately after the sourced information.

When do we cite? We cite any piece of information that we didn't think of ourselves or isn't common knowledge. In other words, anything you learned from your research, you need to cite. Whether or not you put that information in your own words, if you didn't know it beforehand, you must cite it. Use quotation marks around words that aren't yours; don't use quotation marks if you put the information in your own words. Need an infographic explanation? Check out Regis High School's explanation.

How do we cite? In most cases at this school, we follow MLA guidelines when citing. (If your teacher asks you to follow APA, scroll down on this page to the information about APA formatting.) That means, we place the parenthetical citation (the label) immediately after the sourced material. Inside the parentheses, we place the author's name, and if there is a page number, then the page number on which we found the information. If there is no author, we use the source title instead. The citation is considered part of the sentence, so it should come before the period. Most of the time, a citation will look something like this:

She explains that any information that "didn't fall out of your own brain" should be cited (Wenger 6).

This online minilesson gives more examples and explanations.

What is a Works Cited? A Works Cited is a specially formatted list of all the resources (works) that you cited. In other words, if you didn't cite it, it shouldn't be on the list. 

What's the difference between a Works Cited and a Bibliography? A Works Cited contains only the works you refer to in your writing; a Bibliography contains any work you read in your research, whether or not you actually refer to it in your writing. Unless told otherwise by your teacher, for your papers here, you will be creating lists of Works Cited, not Bibliographies.

How do I create a Works Cited page? Follow these steps:

  1. Create MLA formatted entry for each of the sources you cited. You can carefully use EasyBib for this, or you can use the MLA template and walk through the steps yourself. Or, if you're using our subscription databases, you can click on the citation button and have the database create the citation for you (make sure to choose MLA8). Save each entry as you collect information.
  2. Place the Works Cited on its own page, the last page of the document you're submitting. Make sure it follows MLA formatting: 1" margins all around, double spaced with no extra spaces, etc.
  3. Title the page Works Cited.
  4. Put the entries you've collected in alphabetical order by the first word in the entry.
  5. Use hanging indents (the reverse of a paragraph indent) for each citation.
  6. Double-check everything!

Your Works Cited page should look like this.

 

MORE RESOURCES:

MLA: MLA is used primarily in English, Philosophy, Religion, and most areas in the humanities. The MLA 8th Edition includes many changes in the way we cite our sources. Here are sites that should help you walk through the process:

MLA Style Quick Guide

MLA Works Cited Handout

OWL Purdue MLA 

APA: APA citation is used primarily in psychology, science, and some social science publishing. Here are a few resources that should help you with APA citations.

Basics of APA Citation

OWL Purdue APA

Citation Tools: If you choose to use a citation tool, make sure you're using either MLA 8 or APA, depending on your teacher's requirements. No citation tool is perfect. Please double check what the tool spits out to make sure that it creates a correct citation.

EasyBib

Citation Machine