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Easy Hints on How to Cite Sources in Your Research Paper in a Proper Way


Every research paper is written on the basis of different sources you observe during the entire process of work. All the sources should be included in a reference list or bibliography, and at the same time, shown within the text where information is referred to. The following hints will help you record the used sources in a proper way:

  1. Check with the instructor to understand which citation style should be used in your work.
  2. Unfortunately, there is no universal citation style that is appropriate for all research papers. There are many of them, but in most cases, either MLA or APA formatting styles are used.

  3. Prepare all the necessary information about every source you use as you do your research. This information will be included in the list of bibliographic citations at the end of your paper. Depending on the source format, different elements should be recorded in the bibliography.
    • Books.
    • Author’s name, title of the book, year of publication, place of publication, and publisher.

    • Articles.
    • Author’s name, title of the article, title of the periodical, volume, publication date (month, year), and page numbers.

    • Electronic sources.
    • Prepare the same information as you would with the articles, plus the Internet address and date it was retrieved.

  4. Entitle the source page of the research according to your citation style.
  5. The source page in APA style is called “References,” while it is called “Works Cited” in MLA style.

  6. Be sure to format in-text citations in the proper style.
  7. In APA style, every quotation is followed by the author’s last name and the date of publication in parenthesis. However, in MLA style, every quotation or paraphrase is followed by the author’s last name and the page number in parenthesis. These are the main differences. Generally, they are similar. If you have doubts about anything, turn to the detailed guides on how to format in-text citations in the required style and check with the instructor. Sometimes, special guides and professors suggest different solutions to the same formatting. Your instructor must be the first person to ask for any advice.

  8. Be consistent.
  9. Don’t mix up the styles, for your instructor may consider such an inconsistency as a mistake.

  10. Do not over-cite.
  11. Sometimes, a citation is not necessary. The so-called “general knowledge” or “common knowledge” don’t need to be cited. This is information that is basic and widely known, and appears in several different sources, particularly in encyclopedias or dictionaries.

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