Citation and Reference Basics
The words citation and reference are often used interchangeably. However, professional writing styles, such as APA (the American Psychological Association), define these two terms as being distinctly different.
- Citations are often described as being short abbreviations or brief notations of author information in the text of a sentence. Citations note the resource being quoted in the sentence. Citations are indicators of the full references that are found at the end of the body or work.
|Basic rule: MLA parenthetical citation for 1 author using an indirect quote:||Basic rule: APA parenthetical citation for 1 author using an indirect quote:|
|Basic format: (Lastname).
Example: All professionals should base their practice on quality, proven research that has been peer-reviewed (Doe).
|Basic format: (Lastname, Year).
Example: All professionals should base their practice on quality, proven research that has been peer-reviewed (Doe, 2011).
- References, or bibliographic references or Works Cited references, are detailed descriptions of the resources and placed at the end of the body or work.
|Basic rule: MLA Works Cited reference for a journal article with 1 author. Note: in a formal paper, these would include hanging indents.||Basic rule: APA References section reference for a journal article with 1 author. Note: in a formal paper, these would include hanging indents.|
|Doe, John. “The Writing Process.” The Writer’s Journal vol. 34, no. 2, 2011, pp. 210-233.||Doe, J. (2011). The writing process. The Writer’s Journal, 34(2), 210-233.|
A key aspect of citations and references is that they should be aligned with each other. For example, the author information in a citation should match the author information in the Works Cited reference when using MLA Style. In APA Style, the author and publication year information in a citation should align with the same information in the References section reference for the resource. This alignment of citations and references can be seen in the two examples provided.
Additionally, citations vary depending upon the number of authors named on the resource. Here are some basic rules for handling the number of authors in MLA and APA citations:
|MLA Parenthetical Citations-Indirect Quotes||APA Parenthetical Citations-Indirect Quotes|
|1 author > (Lastname).||1 author > (Lastname, Year).|
|2 authors > (Lastname and Lastname).||2 authors > (Lastname & Lastname, Year).|
|3 or more authors > (Lastname et al.).||3 or more authors > (Lastname et al., Year).|
Still not sure about using citations and references? Try viewing our video tutorial:
- Learn the basics of citing resources! This tutorial discusses the importance of citing resources. Attention is given to the common elements of citations and references along with a discussion of MLA 9th edition and APA 7th edition writing styles.
When/Where to Cite Resources in Writing:
Many professionals construct their writing to stay focused on topics and support their claims. One way to do this is to consider the MEAL Plan for constructing paragraphs in writing. The MEAL Plan for paragraph construction emphasizes using four components: M – Main idea, E – Evidence, A – Analysis, and L- Lead statement. The first sentence of the paragraph is the main idea or central focus, followed by evidence sentences that cite authoritative resources supporting claims, followed by analysis statements, and then closing the paragraph with a statement leading back to the larger claim of the paper or work. Below resources offer direct explanations of how the MEAL Plan works:
Citation and Referencing Websites and Generators:
Notice: Magale Library does not maintain the materials on the below pages and is not responsible for their contents)
APAStyle.org – This website offers answers to many frequently asked questions using the American Psychological Association’s writing style.
Accredited Online Colleges Writing Center – This website offers helpful writing tips, including answers to commonly asked grammar questions.
Accredited Schools Online Understanding and Preventing Plagiarism – This website offers helpful tips on recognizing, avoiding, and correcting plagiarism.
BibMe – The fully automatic bibliography maker that auto-fills. It’s the easiest way to generate citations to build a works cited page. And it’s free.
citationmachine.net – This website offers citation assistance with APA and MLA writing styles
eTurabian by Eksendia – This website is intended to assist you in properly citing sources according to Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations 8th and 7th editions, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 6th edition, and “MLA Handbook” 8th and 7th editions.
MLA 8: Visual Guide – Show students that formatting a paper in MLA 8 isn’t so intimidating with our visual guide. Our example paper comes with colorful annotations and tips to help them tackle all the basics.
Purdue’s O.W.L: Online Writing Lab – This website offers help using various writing styles, including MLA and APA.
ReciteWorks.com – Recite “checks that your in text citations match the reference list at the end of your work.”
World Book’s MLA Citations Poster – This digital poster provides directions and examples for citing the most commonly used resources in MLA style. (requires Adobe Reader, https://get.adobe.com/reader/)
Zotero.org – Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research. (This includes citing and referencing in MLA, APA, ACS, ASME, and Chicago styles.