How to Properly Cite Sources in an Essay?

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Learning how to properly cite sources in an essay is necessary whether in high school or college. Through a citation, you are giving credit to the original author for the ideas you used in your research. In this way, your paper will not obtain plagiarism – the copying of others’ ideas and making them your own.

However, there are specific guidelines on how and when to cite a source in an essay based on the required citation styles discussed in this article.

What is a Citation?What is a Citation?

Citation is a way of telling your reader which work belongs to you and those which are not. It also acknowledges the original author from where you’ve gotten the ideas and used them in your essay. By putting citations, the readers will perceive that you have done your research by gathering different information from various studies, thereby putting weight and credibility to your paper.

There are many ways to cite sources in-text Citation as it comes in three common styles: the APA, MLA, and Chicago. However, using citations is not a walk in the park. You need to follow certain guidelines to make it correctly. By putting citations, your readers will know the necessary information to look for the source again, and this includes the following:

  • Name of the author
  • Year of publication
  • Title of the paper
  • Name of the publisher
  • The volume and pages
  • The website of the paper
  • Name and location of the publisher

Why Do You Need to Cite Sources?

Why Do You Need to Cite Sources?

There are many reasons why you need to cite sources, and they are listed below:

  • It prevents your work from plagiarism as it is a significant offense in any writing and research. Plagiarism is considered an act of fraud.
  • It is helpful as it is a reference for your readers to know where they can find the resources you use.
  • It separates your original work from other authors’ work or ideas.
  • It puts credibility to your paper as the Citation presents the amount of research you’ve done.
  • It supports your thesis statement and your whole essay.

When Do You Need to Cite a Source?

When Do You Need to Cite a Source?

You need to cite when you borrow ideas from other studies, precisely when you use quotes, paraphrase, explain other authors’ views, and use specific references. The Citation in your essay has two parts which are the following:

In-Text Citation – this is the idea of other authors that you include in the essay’s body. It usually consists of the author’s family name and the year of publication or the page number of the paper. Examples of citations in an essay:

APA Style:

The other foreign higher education institutions want their students to graduate in a preparatory year before enrolling in their chosen course in college (Alamoudi, Fallatah, Eldakhakhny, 2021).

MLA Style:

The other foreign higher education institutions want their students to graduate a preparatory year before enrolling in their chosen course in college (Alamoudi, Fallatah, Eldakhakhny, 8).

Chicago Style:

The other foreign higher education institutions want their students to graduate in a preparatory year before enrolling in their chosen course in college (Alamoudi, Fallatah, Eldakhakhny, 2021, 8).

Reference/s – this is the detailed information about your in-site Citation and other references, written on a separate paper. For example:

APA Style:

Alamoudi, A. A., Fallatah, H. I., Eldakhakhny, B. M., Kamel, F. O., AlShawwa, L. A., & Elsamanoudy, A. Z. (2021). Relationship between admission criteria and academic performance in basic science courses in health science colleges in KAU. BMC Medical Education, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-021-02502-4

MLA Style:

Alamoudi, A. A., Fallatah, H. I., Eldakhakhny, B. M., Kamel, F. O., AlShawwa, L. A., & Elsamanoudy, A. Z. Relationship between admission criteria and academic performance in basic science courses in health science colleges in KAU. vol 21, no. 1. February 2021. BMC Medical Education, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-021-02502-4

Chicago Style:

Alamoudi, A. A., Fallatah, H. I., Eldakhakhny, B. M., Kamel, F. O., AlShawwa, L. A., & Elsamanoudy, A. Z. (2021). Relationship between admission criteria and academic performance in basic science courses in health science colleges in KAU. Saudi Arabia: BMC Medical Education.

What are the Most Common Citation Styles?

What are the Most Common Citation Styles?

There are common citation styles that you can use based on the subject that you are writing about. Some of them are the following:

APA (American Psychological Association)

When citing sources in APA format, you will place the author’s last name and year of publication for the in-text Citation. It is often used in behavioral and social science. All your citations should reflect on your reference page.

MLA (Modern Language Association)

MLA is one of the most common citation styles used in the academe. It is common in cultural studies, arts, and humanities. In MLA citation format, you will place the author’s last name and the page where you can find it in the book or journal.

Chicago citation style

It is also known as the “Editor’s Bible” and Turabian style. It is commonly used in the publishing industry. When you use this style for in-text Citations, you will put the author’s last name, year of publication, and the page where you can find it.

How to Choose a Citation Style?

How to Choose a Citation Style?

Usually, your teacher will tell you the specific format to use for citations. You will choose the proper citation style based on the particular discipline of your writing. For example:

  • APA citation style (American Psychological Association) is standard in Sciences and Medicines
  • MLA citation style (Modern Language Association) is standard in English, Foreign Language, Arts, and Humanities.
  • Chicago citation style is typical in Business, Arts, and Music.

How to Cite Sources in Different Formats?

How to Cite Sources in Different Formats?

Every time you summarize, quote, or paraphrase another author’s work, you need to use the in-text Citation. Citation is done differently based on the citation styles (APA, MLA, and Chicago style) and the type of reference list (book, website, journal, and report).

Parenthetical Citation

In-text Citations can be in parenthetical or narrative form. Parenthetical is used to emphasize the information cited, which is called information-prominent Citation. It should follow the original idea being mentioned. For example:

Other studies showed that the student’s grade point average and standardized test results in high school could significantly predict their academic performance during college (Noble, 2000).

Narrative Citation

The narrative Citation or the author-prominent Citation emphasizes the author being cited. For Example:

McDonald (2000) discovered that high school GPA could predict the students’ academic performance in undergraduate studies more accurately than standardized tests.

Or it can be written like this:

In 2000, McDonald discovered that high school GPA could predict students’ academic performance in undergraduate studies more accurately than standardized tests.

Direct Quotation

If you must cite a direct quote, meaning a word-for-word statement from the other author, you enclose it with quotation marks and add the author’s last name, year of publication, and the page/s where it is found. For example:

“Education is vital. It is the only way get out from poverty and enjoy a quality life” (Hopkins, 2021, p 180).

However, what if the work you want to use does not contain a page number? You may use a different logical identifying element such as chapter number, paragraph, section number, figure number, or table number. For example:

“The number if uneducated individual in this world is less than compared to five years ago” (Hamilton 2020, Table 2).

Or

According to Hamilton (2020), “The number if uneducated individual in this world is less than compared to five years ago” (Table 2).

How to Cite Sources in An Essay APA?

How to Cite Sources in An Essay APA?

APA In-Text Citation (Parenthetical)

When you use the APA In-Text Citation parenthetical format, at the end of the idea, you will put the author’s last name and the year of publication, separated with a comma. For example:

The College Aptitude Test Results and High school GPA are positively significant to the students’ academic success (Johnston, 2006)

APA in-text citation many authors can be done in several ways.

If you have two (2) authors:

The evidence showed that pre-admission standards are mandated to help enroll academically high-performing students, who have more chances of becoming successful (de Visser & Fluit, 2018)

If you have three (3) or more authors:

Several works of literature reveal how admission standards become indicators to predict students’ academic success (Jayanthi et al., 2014).

If you cite direct quotation:

The vertical alignment theory assumes that “there is a direct, clear, and parallel relationship between the concepts provided to students” (Kurz, Talapatra, & Roach, 2012).

APA In-Text Citation (Narrative)

It is different in narrative format. It is written in this way:

Johnston (2006) explained that College Aptitude Test Results and High school GPA are positively significant to the students’ academic success.

Last 2006, Johnston explained that College Aptitude Test Results and High school GPA are positively significant to the students’ academic success.

If you have two (2) authors:

According to de Visser and Fluit (2018), the evidence showed that pre-admission standards are mandated to help enroll academically high-performing students, who have more chances of becoming successful.

In 2018, de Visser and Fluit discovered that the evidence showed that pre-admission standards are mandated to help enroll academically high-performing students, who have more chances of success.

If you have three (3) authors:

Jayanthi et al. (2014) said that several works of the literature revealed how admission standards become indicators to predict students’ academic success.

APA In-Text Citation (Direct Quote)

Kurz, Talapatra, & Roach (2012) claimed that the vertical alignment theory assumes that “there is a direct, clear, and parallel relationship between the concepts provided to students” (p 5).

How to Cite Sources in An Essay in MLA

How to Cite Sources in An Essay in MLA?

MLA In-Text Citation (Parenthetical)

MLA citation format needs you to write the author’s last name and the page number where it is located instead of the year of publication. For example:

The theory emphasizes that students with a vertically aligned curriculum demonstrate better academic performance (Kagan, Carroll, Comer, & Scott-Little, 4).

MLA In-Text Citation (Parenthetical Direct Quote)

“Dogs are beneficial to our mental health” (Burn, 2), but there are other researchers who disagree, as not all people love dogs.

MLA In-Text Citation (Narrative)

Kagan, Carroll, Comer, & Scott-Little assumed that the theory emphasized that students with a vertically aligned curriculum demonstrate better academic performance (4).

MLA In-Text Citation (Narrative Direct Quote)

According to Dr. Burns, “dogs are beneficial to our mental health” (2), but other researchers disagree as not all people love dogs.

How to Cite Sources in An Essay in Chicago Style?

How to Cite Sources in An Essay in Chicago Style?

Chicago citation is considered an author-date style. The Citation includes the author’s last name, year of publication, and the page where it is located. For example:

The development of learning views opposes that there should be a reasonable arrangement between teaching and learning expectations based on several developmental stages, grade levels, and ages (Lee & Liu, 2010, 6).

If it must be cited in a narrative way:

According to Lee and Liu (2010, 6), the development of learning views opposes that there should be a reasonable arrangement between teaching and learning expectations based on several developmental stages, grade levels, and ages.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Properly Cite Sources in an Essay?

Once you know how to properly cite sources in an essay by reading and applying the guidelines mentioned in this article, you will discover the importance of citation. Moreover, this won’t give you a hard time properly citing sources used in your essay. Let’s have a recap:

  • The citation provides credit to the original author so that you can use their idea in your writing.
  • Citation is essential to prevent plagiarism as it is considered a significant offense, like stealing somebody’s work.
  • You must do the Citation when summarizing, paraphrasing, and using direct quotations from another work.
  • There are several common citation styles, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago.
  • You can cite using parenthetical, narrative, or direct quotation format.

Although there are citation applications online, it would be best if you knew how to properly cite sources in an essay manually. In this way, with or without the online citation application, you can always cite references properly.

Check out some of our other great articles on essay writing below:

> 3 Tips to Improve Your Essay Writing (And 3 Mistakes You Might Be Making)

> How to Avoid Cliché Topics in College Essays

> How to Write an Essay Fast: A Guide for Students

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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