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How to Put Citations in a Research Paper


Writing a paper, especially a research paper, requires you to cite your source for any information or thoughts that are not your own. If you do not, you risk being accused of plagiarism. It is easy to cite your source in-text and there are many ways to do it. It all depends on how many authors or creators the source has or even if you know the name of the author. One effective rule of thumb is that you must always use last names.

In-text Citation for Printed Source with One Author

Put the author's name in the sentence leading up to the quote or data cited.

Write out the quote. If you are using the exact wording, use quotation marks. If you are paraphrasing, you do not need to add quotations.

Put the page number where the quote or information comes from in parenthesis with the period to end the sentence afterward. If you do not use the author's name in the sentence leading up to the quote or data, then you must put the author's name in the parenthesis before the page number.

When You Do Not Know the Name of the Author

Mention the name of the work with a shortened version of the title leading up to your data or quote.

Write out the quote or data that you wish to use.

Add a period outside the parenthesis to end the sentence. Place a shortened version of the title of the work in parenthesis along with the page number if you did not mention it earlier. Then, add the period on the outside of the parenthesis to end the sentence.

Citing an Internet Website or Non-printed Source

Use the first title that the source has listed in your bibliography when you mention it leading up to the quote or data.

Write out the quote or data that you wish to use.

Add a period outside the parenthesis to end the sentence. If you haven't already, place the first thing that this source lists in your bibliography in parenthesis. For websites do not put full URLs. You can use the format "eHow.com" or "Forbes.com," for example. There is no need for page numbers or paragraph numbers.

Citing a Printed Work with Multiple Authors

Mention the names of the authors leading up to the quote or data. If there are more than three you are allowed to use the first name listed in your bibliography plus "et al." instead.

Write out the quote or data that you wish to use in your paper.

Add a period outside the parenthesis to end the sentence. Place each of the last names of the authors in parenthesis along with the page number if you did not mention them. If there are more than three, you are allowed to put the first name listed in your bibliography plus "et al." If you do either of these things before the quote or data, then all you need is a page number.

Tip
  • Depending on the subject of your paper, you will need to adhere to specific format guidelines. For example, English-based papers generally use the MLA format, while science-based papers utilize APA format. In some instances, a university will have guidelines specific to their school. Always check with your professor or teacher to ensure you use the proper formatting guidelines.
About the Author

Antonin Korenek has been writing professionally since 2008. On eHow and Answerbag he specializes in everything geeky and DIY home repair and maintenance. In college he was awarded the Loughead-Eldredge Scholarship in Creative Writing two years in a row. Korenek graduated from Wayne State University with a bachelor's degree in English.

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