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How to Cite Right . Focus on MLA and APA. Why?. Why cite ? To lend credibility of experts to ideas and information To give credit where credit is due To allow readers to consult the sources for more information or ideas

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how to cite right

How to Cite Right

Focus on MLA and APA


Why cite?

  • To lend credibility of experts to ideas and information
  • To give credit where credit is due
  • To allow readers to consult the sources for more information or ideas
  • To show you are part of the conversation about the topic you’ve written about

Why learn to make good citations yourself?

  • So you know if the citations produced by Zotero or other tools are absolutely correct and can adjust them if necessary
  • So you understand and make the proper connections between in-text citations and the list of sources (YOU have control!)

Why are there different styles?

  • APA is used in fields where how recently something was published is important; hence, the DATE is emphasized in APA citations.
  • MLA is used in fields where how recently something was published is not so important; rather author and title are important and are thus emphasized
two parts of the system
Two Parts of the System
  • In-text citations
  • List of sources at the end of the paper

These two items form a cross-referencing system. (An in-text citation leads the reader to an entry on the list at the end of the paper.)

in text citations
In-Text Citations
  • Typically uses signal phrases* plus (in most cases) parenthetical citations
  • Used for ALL use of outside material, whether you quote it or put it into your own words, unless it is common knowledge

*Examples of signal phrases:

According to J. Brown,

As John Brown states/stated,

examples of mla in text citations
Examples of MLA In-Text Citations

According to John Smith, “Edgar Allan Poe’s detective stories introduced a staple of British literature into the American market” (98).

Marella Gomez states that 78% of first-year students surveyed in 2010 at Washington State University reported having written at least five essays throughout the year (55).

One researcher has concluded, “Too much consumption of potato chips resulted in high blood pressure due to high salt content in 80% of those studied “(Brownell 185-86).

(Note the use of present tense in signal phrases.)

basic apa in text citations
Basic APA In-Text Citations

Yanovski and Yanovski (2002) reported that “the current state of the treatment for obesity is similar to the state of the treatment of hypertension several decades ago” (p. 600).

Yanovski and Yanovski (2002) explained that sibutramine suppresses appetite by blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain (p. 594).

Obese children often engage in limited physical activity (Sothern & Gordon, 2003, p. 104).

(Note the use of past tense in signal phrases.)

list of sources the basics
List of Sources: The Basics
  • MLA: The list is called the Works Cited (“Works” is plural. If you have used only one outside source in a paper, call it the “Work Cited.”)
  • APA: The list is called References.
  • Alphabetized
  • Uses hanging indentation (every line except the first line of each citation is indented)
  • Contains a citation for every work you used (cited) in the paper. A reader should be able to match up each in-text citation with a work on this list.
  • Entries should not be numbered.
some basic mla citations for the works cited page
Some Basic MLA Citations for the Works Cited Page


Wineapple, Brenda. White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. NY: Knopf, 2008. Print.

Print article:

Blackburn, Robin. “Economic Democracy: Meaningful, Desirable, Feasible?” Daedalus 136.3 (2007): 36-45. Print.

Database article:

Heyen, William. “Sunlight.” American Poetry Review 36.2 (2007): 55-56. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 24 Sept. 2009.

mla cont
MLA, cont.

Article or other selection from a book-length collection:

Yamada, Mitsuye. “Guilty on Both Counts.” Asian-American Literature: An Anthology. Ed. Shirley Geok-lin Lim. Lincolnwood: NTC, 2000. 151-54. Print.


American Library Association. American Library Association. ALA, 2008. Web. 14 Jan. 2009.

some basic apa citations for the references page
Some Basic APA Citations for the References Page
  • Book:

England, J. (2008). A billion lives: An eyewitness report from the frontlines of humanity. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

  • Print article:

Zhang, L. (2008). Teachers’ styles of thinking: An exploratory study. The Journal of Psychology, 142, 37-55.

  • Database article:

Eskritt, M., & McLeod, K. (2008). Children’s note taking as a mnemonic tool. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 101, 52-74. doi:10.1016/jecp.2008.05/007

apa cont
APA, cont.
  • Article or chapter in a collection:

Denton, N. A. (2006). Segregation and Discrimination in housing. In R. G. Bratt, M. E. Stone, & C. Hartman (Eds.), A right to housing: Foundation of a new social agenda (pp. 61-81). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

  • Document from a Web site:

National Institute on Media and the Family. (2009). Mobile networking. In Guide to social networking: Risks. Retrieved from

try your hand at a citation style
Try Your Hand at a Citation Style
  • Handout Exercise
  • Questions