How to Cite Previously Written Essays

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During your studies, you will probably take courses that are similar to one another in subject matter. A point you made in a previous paper may support one of your arguments in a new paper. Just like any other source, these previously written essays must be properly referenced within your paragraphs and cited in a works cited or bibliography.

Determine the style of citation your instructor wants you to use for your current essay. Citation styles vary across disciplines. If you are writing an English paper, you might be expected to form citations using the Modern Language Association style. If you are writing a history paper, you might be expected to use the Chicago citation method. The instructor normally lists this requirement on your assignment sheet. Contact your instructor if it is not listed, or if his wishes are ambiguous.

Cite your previous essays as an unpublished work if you are using the MLA format. This falls under the "Dissertations and Master's Theses" citation section. Use this format: Your last name, Your first name. "Title of the Essay." Type of essay (for example, MA thesis). Name of the institution, date degree earned or year paper written. Medium of the paper (for example, print).

Cite your previous essays as unpublished dissertations if you are using American Psychological Association format. Use this format: Your last name, Your first initial. (Year essay written). Essay Title. (Type of essay). Name of the institution, location of institution.

Cite your previous essays as a thesis or dissertation if you are using the Chicago format. Use this format: Your last name, Your first name. "Essay Title." Type of essay, name of institution, year written.


  • Copying work from an essay you have previously written without making proper citations counts as plagiarism at many academic institutions.


  • Use the standard method for in-text citations for whichever citation method you are using. For example, if you are citing the fifth page of your essay for an MLA-style paper, you would write (Smith 5) next to an in-text reference, where "Smith" is replaced by your last name.


About the Author

Steven Hill began writing professionally in 2006. He has written many academic essays and is also an author of fiction, with short stories published in various e-magazines, including Sonar4 and Sinister Tales. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wilfrid Laurier University.

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