Citing sources in your academic essay
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Citing sources in your academic essay. Helping your readers see you as credible. What citations rules do you already recognize?. Take a look at this sample essay , and personally formulate the “most important” 10 citation rules. MLA citation is a two part process.

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Citing sources in your academic essay

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Citing sources in your academic essay

Helping your readers see you as credible

What citations rules do you already recognize?

Take a look at this sample essay, and personally formulate the “most important” 10 citation rules

MLA citation is a two part process

  • The “signal phrases” and “parenthetical citations” you insert into the flow of your paper at EVERY point where you’ve used sources

  • The “Works Cited” list at the end of your paper—MLA’s version of a bibliography

Citing as you go along

  • Introduce each quote or paraphrase with a signal phrase and end it with a page number (Eschholz, Rosa, and Clark 663).

    • According to playwright Kay Cook, “Drama helps us revise our view of the world” (14).

    • As Cook later notes, “Plays by beginning writers often depend on talk instead of action (18).

    • The playwright argues that “even novices can write a good play” (32).

Clarifying a few points

  • If you don’t mention the author’s name in the signal phrase, include it in the parenthetical citation (Cook 12).

  • If there is no author listed, cite by the title of the piece you are looking at. Put it in quotation marks if it is part of a larger book, magazine, newspaper or website. Don’t cite by the larger source (book, magazine, newspaper, etc.) if the name of the article is available (“The Young Playwright” 12).

Clarifying a few more points

  • If you are looking at an electronic source that doesn’t show a page number that corresponds to a physical copy of that article in a real magazine etc., cite by paragraph number (par. 4) IF the paragraphs are numbered on the website. If not, make sure that your signal phrase fully identifies the website OR cite the name of the website in a parenthetical citation at the end of the line.

Clarifying a few more points

  • Draw from a variety of sources as you support your points. Citing a lot of material from a few pages or several links or from one or two websites will make your research look weak. Citing sources without listed authors will do the same.

Clarifying a few more points

  • When you are citing someone quoting or paraphrasing another author, indicate the original source in the signal phrase and reference where you found the quote in the parenthetical citation.

    Playwright Kay Cook says, “Pacing is essential to successful drama” (qtd. in Simon 27).

Quoting means using the original wording exactly as you found it.

  • Save the parenthetical citation for the end of a continuous quotation as long as it is all from one page. If you change page numbers or sources show where one reference ends with a parenthetical citation.

  • The only difference between citing paraphrases and quotations is that you can limit citations of paraphrases to once per paragraph as long as you are not changing page numbers.

Using long quotations

  • Indent 10 spaces quotations of four or more lines; don’t use quotation marks around such quotations. Insert the page number after the final mark of punctuation.

Example of a long quote:

Skin, philosopher Suzanne Langer says, is a “multi potential sense organ” that develops in contact with a dangerous world:

As soon as a tissue is exposed to the inorganic world (which may have other organisms in it, that are, however, no part of the individual in question), that tissue meets with emergencies. (423)

Some finer points

  • Use . . . to indicate material that you’ve left out of the middle of a sentence. When you’ve left out material at the end of a sentence use . . . .

  • Use [square brackets] to add your own words or to indicate an eror [sic] that showed up in the original quotation.


  • Change the wording and the sentence structure of a paraphrase as much as possible (Eschholz, Rosa, and Clark 662).

  • If you can’t paraphrase some distinctive phrases, put quotations marks around the directly quoted wording.

  • Cite paraphrases as you do quotations.

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