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Get It Done Guide to Undergraduate Research

Got a research assignment coming up? We're here to help.

Citing Sources

Why do I need to cite?

  • Citations give credit to the authors and publications that you built your research on. Citations are extremely important because failing to cite properly is considered plagiarism. Without citing the sources you referenced, you are essentially taking credit for their hard work, which is very uncool. Don't panic though, we are always here to help with your citation questions.
  • Citations can get a bad rep, but they allow you to curate your scholarly conversation. You, as a scholar yourself, get to choose whose voices are included in your research. That's powerful and exciting!

What's the deal with citation styles? Why are there so many?

  • The citation style that you use depends on the discipline that you are studying. For example, English uses MLA style, Psychology uses APA style, and Architecture uses Chicago style.
  • As a first-year student, you will probably be working with a variety of citation styles, so it is incredibly important to read your assignment carefully and understand your instructor's expectations. When in doubt, ask your instructor.

Do citation generators really work?

  • Citation generators are tools that format citations for you automatically (EasyBib, Citation Machine, etc.).
  • While these automatically generated citations are often a good starting point, it is incredibly important to double check your citations with the appropriate Style Guide (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).
    • Common mistakes include misplaced or incorrect punctuation, misuse of italics, mixing of citation styles, and errors in capitalization. Nobody wants to lose points on their assignment for small mistakes.
  • Pay extra attention to the formatting when pasting an automatically generated citation into your bibliography. Be careful not to clear important formatting elements, such as italics.

Here are some examples for quick reference. If your source does not fit into one of these categories, check the appropriate Style Guide for relevant examples (under the "Accessing Style Guides" tab) or contact your librarian.

Scholarly Articles

Citation Style
Citation Example
More info
MLA

Redfern, Chris P. F., and Richard M. Bevan. “Use of Sea Ice by Arctic Terns Sterna Paradisaea in Antarctica and Impacts of Climate Change.” Journal of Avian Biology, vol. 51, no. 2, Feb. 2020, pp. 1–12. Academic Search Ultimate, doi:10.1111/jav.02318. Accessed Aug. 31, 2020.

MLA Style Guide: Electronic Sources → An Article from an Online Database; see also MLA Style Guide: Periodicals
APA

Redfern, C. P. F., & Bevan, R. M. (2020). Use of sea ice by arctic terns Sterna paradisaea in Antarctica and impacts of climate change. Journal of Avian Biology51(2), 1–12. doi:10.1111/jav.02318

APA Style Guide: Electronic Sources → Online Scholarly Journal Article; see also APA Style Guide: Articles in Periodicals
Chicago

Redfern, Chris P. F., and Richard M. Bevan. “Use of Sea Ice by Arctic Terns Sterna Paradisaea in Antarctica and Impacts of Climate Change.” Journal of Avian Biology 51, no. 2 (2020): 1–12. doi:10.1111/jav.02318.

Chicago Style Guide: Web Sources → Online Periodicals (Journal, Magazine, and Newspaper Articles); see also Chicago Style Guide: Periodicals

Newspaper / Magazine Articles

Citation Style
Citation Example
More info
MLA

Guarino, Ben. "The Audacious Effort to Reforest the Planet." The Washington Post, Jan 22, 2020. search.proquest.com/docview/2342941211?accountid=14696. Accessed Aug. 31, 2020.

MLA Style Guide: Electronic Sources → An Article in a Web Magazine; see also MLA Style Guide: Periodicals
APA

Guarino, B. (2020, Jan 22). The audacious effort to reforest the planet. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2342941211?accountid=14696

APA Style Guide: Electronic Sources → Online News Article; see also APA Style Guide: Articles in Periodicals
Chicago

Guarino, Ben. "The Audacious Effort to Reforest the Planet." The Washington Post, Jan 22, 2020. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2342941211?accountid=14696.

Chicago Style Guide: Web Sources → Online Periodicals (Journal, Magazine, and Newspaper Articles)

E-books

Citation Style
Citation Example
More info
MLA

Dow, Kirstin, and Thomas E. Downing. The Atlas of Climate Change : Mapping the World’s Greatest Challenge. Ebook, 3rd ed., University of California Press, 2015. ebook Collection (EBSCOhost), search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1225810&site=ehost-live. Accessed Aug. 31, 2020.

MLA Style Guide: Electronic Sources → An E-book; see also MLA Style Guide: Books
APA

Dow, K., & Downing, T. E. (2015). The atlas of climate change : Mapping the world’s greatest challenge (3rd ed.). University of California Press. http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy-um.researchport.umd.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1225810&site=ehost-live

APA Style Guide: Electronic Sources → Electronic or Kindle Books; see also APA Style Guide: Books
Chicago

Dow, Kirstin, and Thomas E. Downing. The Atlas of Climate Change : Mapping the World’s Greatest Challenge, 3rd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015. http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy-um.researchport.umd.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1225810&site=ehost-live.

Chicago Style Guide: Web Sources → Electronic Books and Books Consulted Online; see also Chicago Style Guide: Books

Page on a website

Citation Style
Citation Example
More info
MLA

"Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions." United States Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov/ghgemissions. Accessed Aug. 31, 2020.

MLA Style Guide: Electronic Sources → A Page on a Website
APA

United States Environmental Protection Agency, (2020). Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions

APA Style Guide: Electronic Sources → Webpage or Piece of Online Content
Chicago

United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions." United States Environmental Protection Agency. Last modified July 20, 2020. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions

Chicago Style Guide: Web Sources → Web Page

Social Media Post (examples from Twitter)

Citation Style
Citation Example
More info
MLA

@GretaThunberg (Greta Thunberg). “As expected the #EUCO resulted in some nice words, some vague distant incomplete climate targets nearly impossible to track and a complete denial of the climate emergency. As long as we keep playing their game on their terms this is all we'll get- the leftover breadcrumbs. 1/2->.” Twitter, 21 July 2020, 4:57 a.m., twitter.com/GretaThunberg/status/1285499092710367238?s=20. Accessed Aug. 31, 2020.

MLA Style Guide: Electronic Sources → A Tweet
APA

Thunberg, G. [@GretaThunberg]. (2020, July 21). As expected the #EUCO resulted in some nice words, some vague distant incomplete climate targets nearly impossible to track [Tweet]. Twitter. https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg/status/1285499092710367238?s=20

APA Style Guide: Electronic Sources → Tweet
Chicago

Thunberg, Greta (@GretaThunberg). “As expected the #EUCO resulted in some nice words, some vague distant incomplete climate targets nearly impossible to track and a complete denial of the climate….” Twitter, July 21, 2020. https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg/status/1285499092710367238?s=20.

Chicago Style Guide:  Web Sources → Social Media

 

Here are some examples for quick reference. If your source does not fit into one of these categories, check the appropriate Style Guide for relevant examples (under the "Accessing Style Guides" tab) or contact your librarian.

Scholarly Articles

Citation Style
In-Text Citation / Footnote Example
More info
MLA

With page number → (Redfern and Bevan 5)

Without page number → (Redfern and Bevan)

MLA Style Guide: In-Text Citations
APA

With page number → (Redfern & Bevan, 2020, p. 5)

Without page number → (Redfern & Bevan, 2020)

APA Style Guide: In-Text Citations
Chicago

First footnote →

1. Chris P. F. Redfern and Richard M. Bevan, “Use of Sea Ice by Arctic Terns Sterna Paradisaea in Antarctica and Impacts of Climate Change,” Journal of Avian Biology 51, no. 2 (2020): 5. doi:10.1111/jav.02318.

Subsequent footnotes →

3. Redfern and Bevan, "Use of Sea Ice by Arctic Terns," 5.

Chicago Style Guide: Web Sources → Online Periodicals (Journal, Magazine, and Newspaper Articles); see also Chicago Style Guide: Periodicals

Newspaper / Magazine Articles

Citation Style
In-Text Citation / Footnote Example
More info
MLA

With page number → (Guarino 5)

Without page number → (Guarino)

MLA Style Guide: In-Text Citations
APA

With page number → (Guarino, 2020, p. 5)

Without page number → (Guarino, 2020)

APA Style Guide: In-Text Citations
Chicago

First footnote →

1. Ben Guarino, "The Audacious Effort to Reforest the Planet," Washington Post, Jan. 22, 2020. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2342941211?accountid=14696.

Subsequent footnotes → 3

Guarino, "The Audacious Effort."

Chicago Style Guide: Web Sources → Online Periodicals (Journal, Magazine, and Newspaper Articles); see also Chicago Style Guide: Periodicals

E-books

Citation Style
In-Text Citation / Footnote Example
More info
MLA

With page number → (Dow and Downing 5)

Without page number → (Dow and Downing)

MLA Style Guide: In-Text Citations
APA

With page number → (Dow & Downing, 2015, p. 5)

Without page number → (Dow & Downing, 2015)

APA Style Guide: In-Text Citations
Chicago

First footnote →

1. Kristin Dow and Thomas E. Downing. The Atlas of Climate Change : Mapping the World’s Greatest Challenge, 3rd ed, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015), 5, http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy-um.researchport.umd.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1225810&site=ehost-live.

Subsequent footnotes →

3. Dow and Downing, The Atlas of Climate Change, 5.

Chicago Style Guide: Web Sources → Electronic Books and Books Consulted Online; see also Chicago Style Guide: Books

Page on a website

Citation Style
In-Text Citation / Footnote Example
More info
MLA
(U.S. EPA) MLA Style Guide: In-Text Citations
APA

First in-text citation → (United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], n.d.)

Subsequent in-text citations → (EPA, n.d.)

APA Style Guide: In-Text Citations
Chicago

First footnote →

1. United States Environmental Protection Agency, "Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions," United States Environmental Protection Agency, last modified July 20, 2020, https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions.

Subsequent footnotes →

3. U.S. EPA, "Greenhouse Gas Emissions".

Chicago Style Guide: Web Sources → Web Page

Social Media Post (examples from Twitter)

Citation Style
In-Text Citation / Footnote Example
More info
MLA
(@GretaThunberg) MLA Style Guide: In-Text Citations
APA
(Thunberg, 2020) APA Style Guide: In-Text Citations
Chicago

First footnote →

1. Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg), “As expected the #EUCO resulted in some nice words, some vague distant incomplete climate targets nearly impossible to track and a complete denial of the climate…,” Twitter, July 21, 2020, https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg/status/1285499092710367238?s=20.

Subsequent footnotes →

3. Thunberg, "As expected the #EUCO."

Chicago Style Guide:  Web Sources → Social Media

What are Citation Management Tools?

Citation managers help organize your citations for you. This is especially helpful when you have a major research assignment with a large number of sources to keep track of. You most likely won't need to use these for first-year research assignments, but you may as you move through more advanced courses. If you feel like exploring or taking your research to the next step, check out our Citation Management Tools Guide below!

Common Citation Managers

  • Zotero 
  • Medeley
  • Endnote