How to Give Credit When Writing a Paper

In the academic world, it is critical that you give credit to those who have made contributions to your work so that they receive the acknowledgement they deserve, and so readers can assess the credibility of what you say. In your school papers, professors normally require that you show where you got facts, ideas and images. While there are a few citation styles, the Modern Language Association (MLA) style is one of the most popular.

Put the parenthetical citation in parentheses at the end of the sentence that references it. The parenthetical, in-line or in-text citation is embedded within the prose of your report. If you refer to your reference by name within the text, include the page number, in parentheses, at the end of the sentence, e.g., (205). If you cannot work the author's name into your text, put her last name, followed by a comma and the page number, in parentheses at the end sentence, e.g., (King, 205). Note that the in-line citation comes at the end of the sentence, but before the closing punctuation.

Prepare the "Works Cited" page by entitling it as such. The works cited entries come on a separate page, double-spaced and in alphabetical order. You can divide entries into sections, with each section treated like a sentence, in that it is capitalized and ends with a period. Each entry begins on a new line. If your citation extends beyond a single line, indent each additional line.

Type the names of the authors in the order they appear in the resource. The first author is written last name first, first name second, and middle name or initial last. However, the second and third authors, as applicable, have their first and last names listed in the standard order. For sources with more than three authors, list the first author's last name, followed by a comma and "et al." Remember to end this section of your citation with a period.

Place the title of a book in italics. An article or essay should go in quotes, followed by the publication's title and date.

Type the location of the publisher, a colon, the publisher's name, a comma and the year of publication for a book. For an article, after the date of publication put a colon, followed by the page numbers where the cited information is found. Remember to end this section of your citation with a period.

Specify the medium of publication as its very own section at the end of your citation. Usually this is a single word followed by a period. Examples include "Print," "Web" and "DVD."

  • Your instructor may ask you to cite your sources a little differently than described here, or he may ask you to use a different citation style altogether.
  • To not properly cite all your sources is plagiarism. In the world of academia, plagiarism is the worst crime. It can and usually does result in severe disciplinary measures, up to and including expulsion. Consult your school's student handbook for more information.
Items you will need
Citation style guide
About the Author

Rodney Lewis hasn't stopped writing since he first used a computer at age 6 in 1981. His work is featured in publications like the "NW Karaoke & Live Entertainment Guide," "DO-IT News" and "HitExchangeNews." Having extensive knowledge in a wide variety of diverse subjects, Lewis is currently working on his Associate of Arts at North Seattle Community College.

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