How to Write an Essay Citing One Source

If you are writing an essay for college for the first time, you will have been told that you need to reference other works in a particular way. Each citation you make needs to be accredited to the person who wrote or said it first. This is to prevent plagiarism and keep a uniform style throughout your work. Depending on your subject, you will be expected to use different citation styles. There are many different styles and the preferred one will be down to your tutor. In this example it assumes that you are using MLA, the most common for the arts and humanities subjects. The exact reference style depends on what your source is.

Ensure that when you quote or paraphrase your source in-text, you include the author and page reference. This is the most important factor when referencing in-text with MLA. This means that the author can be mentioned in the body of the text, with page reference in brackets, or both can be in brackets. For example:

Smith said "this is how you quote." (200)


"this is how you quote" (Smith 200)

Use the title of the work if there is no author know, place it in inverted commas.

If the work has up to three authors include them all in the brackets, but if there are four or more authors write "Author et al."

Insert a bibliography at the very end of your work. Even if you are only referencing one source, you still need to list it.

Use the following basic format: Surname, Forename. Title of publication (italicized). Publisher's Location: Publisher, Year. Medium.

With a source written by two or three authors, separate their names with commas and "and." If there are more than three authors, use "et al."

If your source is a journal or article or a chapter inside a larger release, place the article in quotations preceding the "Title of publication." If using a web source add the date of access at the end.

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