Citation for Your Essay

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Author: Kelly Higgins

How to Cite an Essay: Overview of the Most Common Styles

Citation is a nightmare for everybody who deals with academic writing. On the one hand, a function of the citation is to guide readers in which sources to look for this or that information and to make sure that the writer doesn’t plagiarize other authors. On the other hand, the process of citation requires a lot of attention and effort from the writer. By the way, thanks to the rapid development of technology there are ways to ease such a debilitating process, in particular, you can use use citation generator. Despite this fact, you should know how to cite an article in an essay or how to cite a website in an essay and other basics of the common styles.

Choose the Proper Style for Your Paper

You should know that there is a kind of division in what spheres this or that formatting style is applied. The first crucial step you have to do is to determine which one is right for you. In this article we’ll talk about MLA, APA, and Chicago, that’s why let’s discuss when to use them.

  1. APA (American Psychological Association) is the formatting style usually used for the assignments on business, social science, and nursing.
  2. MLA (Modern Language Association) is applied in the field of English and cultural studies, comparative literature, foreign languages, and literature.
  3. Chicago style can be applied to a wide range of disciplines, besides it has two varieties – notes-bibliography system and author-date system. The former covers the humanities, in particular, the arts, history, and literature; the latter is used for papers on the social, physical and natural sciences.

The specifics of APA

If you want to add some data in text, you need to know three elements – the last name of the author, the page number, and the year of publishing. The APA in-text citation can interrupt the sentence:

  • When you name the author in the sentence, the year should immediately follow it in the parentheses, such as Simpson (2005); the page number always goes after the quoted material in the parentheses: Simpson (2005) argues that EI is largely inherited from a mother (p. 152), but other scholars (…).
  • If the author’s name isn’t mentioned, you should put information in the parenthetical citation in the following order – author, year, and page. It is believed that people inherit their emotional intellect from their mothers (Simpson, 2005, p. 152).

Very often students use several sources of the same author, in your references they have to be listed in the alphabetical order by the first major title word. You should consider the first one as “a”, the second as “b”, the third as “c” and so on. In the text it will look something like this:  Simpson stresses “the key importance of the close relationships between the mother and children” (2005a, p.152).

In order to avoid confusion if some authors have the identical last name, you additionally use the initials of the first name. Let’s imagine you have Mark Simpson and Albert Simpson, in this case, the parenthetical will look like (M. Simpson 2005a, p. 152).

Many people find creating a reference list very boring and exhausting, and we completely share their opinion. The reference list may include not only essays, but also various sources, such as books, journals, web publications and so on. Be wiser and don’t waste time, rely on online citation generator.

The specifics of MLA

In this style, the in-text citation in parentheses consists of two elements – author’s name and page number that appear at the end of the sentence, and the period comes after it. Traditionally the citation looks like this: It is believed that people inherit their emotional intellect from their mothers (Simpson 152). If some piece of information is mentioned in the sentence, you shouldn’t mention it in the parentheses. Simpson believes that people inherit their emotional intellect from their mothers (152).

It may happen that in the Works Cited you have sources created by the same author; in order to avoid any misunderstanding, you should add a short version of the title to the author’s name. It is believed that people inherit their emotional intellect from their mothers (Simpson, “Emotions” 152). For the cases when the authors have the same last name, you should use the first initial next to the last name: (F. Simpson 152) or (H. Simpson 152).

Many questions arise when you have to combine the Works Cited. It may occur that you don’t remember how to cite a quote in an essay or how to cite a book in an essay, frankly speaking, that’s impossible to keep everything in your mind. Nevertheless, you can always take a look at requirements and refresh your knowledge or save energy and use online citation generator.

How to Cite an Essay in the Note-Bibliography System of the Chicago Style

If the text contains some content you borrowed, you should put a number in superscript at the end of the sentence. The first cited material on the page is your 1, the next will be 2 and so on. Such a numbering system is used for each page separately, it means on the next page you start again with 1. The place for footnotes is placed in the lower part of the page and separated from the main text by a typed lined 1.5 inches wide. Use the same number to correlate the in-text information with the source, and don’t use a new superscript.

Another way you can apply in this system is to create a bibliography at the end of the paper and to match the superscript notes to it. Remember that in this case, the format is the same, but numbering starts on the first page and ends on the last one without restarting. To format the notes in a proper way we recommend you to use online citation generator, as you can easily get lost in all these requirements. You should also shorten the note for the sources after they were used for the first time. So you can specify in two ways: the name and the number of page 5. Wilson, 95. [shortened from full information provided in note #2 above] or the name, the short title and the page number 5. Wilson, “Story of Their Life,” 95. [shortened from full information provided in note #2 above].

Author-Date System of the Chicago Style

This style has traits of both APA and MLA. The parenthetical sets at the end of the sentence, before the period, and covers three main points – author, date, and page number. You separate the date and the page number by a comma, but no punctuation is needed between the author and date. For example, (Wilson 1996, 95) or Wilson admits that … (1996, 95).

In cases when you deal with the author who wrote several papers in the same period, you should use letters, similar to APA – (Wilson 1996a, 95).  If you have several authors with the same last names, you can distinguish them by means of the first name (J. Wilson 1996, 95). On the difference from the Note-Bibliography System, the compulsory requirement for the Author-Date System is the reference list. The list takes place after the essay, and entries follow the alphabetical order. You don’t indent the first line of each entry, but you have to indent the other lines.

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