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General Guidelines On Citing Sources In An Essay


If you need to write an essay then it can be a good idea to learn about the citation process before you begin. The last thing you want to do is write an essay, complete with a large number of citations, only to find out that you have to reformat them all, because you’ve got them wrong in the first place.

What to include when referencing quotes in an essay

When you include a full or partial quote, it is important that you reference it properly. Most citations will need to include the following information:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Place of publication
  • Date of publication
  • Relevant page numbers

Paraphrasing and citing sources

Even if you are paraphrasing a quote, it is important that you make a citation. The citation can be made either in parentheses within the essay itself, or to be included in a footnote

Summarizing other people’s ideas

Just as when you are paraphrasing some content, if you are making a summary of someone else’s ideas, then you still need to include a citation. Again, as with paraphrasing, this could be simply as a footnote at the end of the summary. Summaries can include content based on people’s ideas, conclusions or arguments.

Referencing exclusive sources of facts and data

If you have included some facts or data in the paper that you’re writing, and these facts or data come from an exclusive site, then you must include a citation. If you do not include citation, then it can appear as though you are trying to make the claims as if you were the one to have discovered them, which, in many ways, is tantamount to plagiarism.

APA style vs MLA style

Two of the most common writing styles when it comes to producing essays are those of APA and MLA. Whilst both styles generally following universally accepted formats, it is always worth double-checking in case there are any specific guidelines issued by your school, university or college.

Not only are there differences in how you should include citations, according to the different style guides, the formatting of essays is different as well. Therefore, before you write any work it is important that you read through the requirements of each style.

Finally, it is worth pointing out the reasons for making citations: not only does it enable whoever is reading the article to fact check your work, but it is a way of proving that you haven’t plagiarised the work.

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