Any time you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or reference a source, you must cite that source in a parenthetical note or a footnote and append a bibliography, which, depending on the discipline, may be called “Works Cited” or “References.”
All citations share some basic components, including the title of the work being referred to, the name of the work’s author(s), the publisher, and the date of publication. Beyond these general requirements, styles of citation vary by discipline and by professor’s preference. In the humanities, the most commonly accepted citation style is that of the Modern Language Association (MLA). In the social sciences, the American Psychological Association (APA) style is widely used. Historians typically employ the footnote style described in The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). Each scientific discipline has its own protocols and formats, usually available in a style manual produced by the discipline’s scholarly organization. You’ll see that many academic disciplines encourage the use of in-text parenthetical citations rather than footnotes.
Once you join a department as a concentrator and begin your junior year work, the department should provide you with information about expected citation formats and practices in the discipline. Often, individual professors will provide you with information about their preferred citation format.
The examples that follow employ four different citation styles. For the specifics of each style, you should consult an official style manual, because the rules for citation vary greatly for different kinds of sources. For example, books are cited differently from articles, which are cited differently from e-mail correspondence. You’ll need to consult a style manual to determine the proper format for each source type. (A list of recommended style manuals may be found at the end of this section.)
Example 1: Literary Studies (MLA).
The MLA requires a parenthetical citation in the body of the text that corresponds to an entry in the Works Cited at the end. A citation for a quotation from a book in the MLA style is formatted this way:
As Frank Lentricchia argues, The Waste Land should not be understood as a logical sequence of events but as “an intellectual and emotional complex grasped in an instant of time” (194).
The parenthetical citation “(194)” refers to a page number from a book by Frank Lentricchia. Publication information about the book would be found in the Works Cited, where it would be formatted this way:
Lentricchia, Frank. Modernist Quartet. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Example 2: Psychology (APA).
The APA also requires parenthetical citations in the body of the text, though these citations typically include the author and the date. A citation for a summary of an article in the APA style is formatted this way:
Studies that examine links between cardiovascular and mental activity must understand that cardiovascular activity itself comprises a suite of variables (Van Roon, Mulder, Althaus, and Mulder, 2004).
The parenthetical citation “(Van Roon, Mulder, Althaus, and Mulder, 2004)” refers to an article by the four listed coauthors. Publication information about the article would be found in the References, where it would be formatted this way:
Van Roon, A., Mulder, L., Althaus, M., and Mulder, G. (2004). Introducing a baroflex model for studying cardiovascular effects of mental workload. Psychophysiology, 41, 961–981.
Example 3: History (CMS).
CMS, or “Chicago,” is a style in which citations are presented in footnotes. A citation for a quotation from an article in the Chicago style is formatted this way:
Nineteenth-century bohemians were more dependent on mainstream culture than might at first appear. As one scholar puts it, “Bohemia”s self-designated types always existed in symbiotic relation to bourgeois culture rather than in opposition to it.”1
The footnote “1” would refer to a note at the bottom of the page containing full publication information and formatted this way:
1. Christine Stansell, American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2000), 18.
Example 4: Biology.
Citation styles in math, science, and engineering tend to vary from journal to journal. Following a quotation or a reference to the text, the author might name the source, or might use a superscript number such as 1 or a parenthetical number such as (1), to indicate the number of the article in the final list of references. The journal Nature Genetics uses the following format for articles, and the references are listed numerically rather than alphabetically:
13. Herron, B. J. et al. Efficient generation and mapping of recessive developmental mutations using ENU mutagenesis. Nat. Genet. 30, 185–189 (2002).
Because of the variety of citation styles for math, science, and engineering, you should consult your professor about their preferences and expectations.
An electronic source is any source that exists primarily in electronic form and is accessed primarily through electronic means. Websites, online periodicals, online books, e-mails and postings, and even CD-ROMs are all forms of electronic sources. But be careful: not all materials found through electronic means are necessarily electronic sources. For example, if a PDF of an article you found through a database on the library’s website was originally published in a printed journal, then the article doesn’t qualify as an electronic source. In short, there’s a difference between electronic sources and sources that are accessed electronically.
When citing an online source, your citation should contain the following elements:
- the author or editor (if available),
- the title of the text (if different from the name of the website),
- the name of the website,
- the name of the site’s sponsor or associated institution or organization,
- the date you accessed the site,
- the electronic address (URL).
For example, a short work posted on a website would be formatted in MLA style as follows:
McCort, Dennis. “Kafka and the Coincidence of Opposites.” Romantic Circles Praxis Series: Romanticism and Buddhism. February 2007. Romantic Circles. 21 April 2008. ≺ http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/buddhism/mccort/mccort.html ≻
This citation includes not only the author’s name and the work’s title, but also other important information, including the date of the work’s publication on the site (February 2007) and the date the website was accessed (21 April 2008).
The published guides of the MLA, APA, and Chicago styles include detailed descriptions of how to cite most electronic sources. As explained earlier on this website, the emerging nature of this new technology means that conventions are forming quickly, and the variations among citation styles vary considerably. Be sure to look up the appropriate form of citation and to consult your professor about any points of confusion.
Recommended Style Manuals
For complete coverage of MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles, you should obtain the most recent edition of each style’s official manual: MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th edition, 2016), the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition, 2009), and The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition, 2010). For an online guide to these styles, visit the Library website, at library.princeton.edu/help/citing-sources. A good commercially published guide is A Pocket Style Manual, by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers (2014), which includes brief but substantial overviews of the MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.
Writing a list of references
At the end of all pieces of academic writing, you need a list of materials that you have used or referred to. This usually has a heading: references but may be bibliography or works cited depending on the conventions of the system you use.
The object of your writing is for you to say something for yourself using the ideas of the subject, for you to present ideas you have learned in your own way. The emphasis should be on working with other people’s ideas, rather than reproducing their words. The ideas and people that you refer to need to be made explicit by a system of referencing. This consists of a list of materials that you have used at the end of the piece of writing and references to this list at various points throughout the essay. The purpose of this is to supply the information needed to allow a user to find a source.
Therefore, at the end of your assignment you need a list of the materials you have used - a bibliography or a reference list.
There are many ways of writing a list of references - check with your department for specific information.
- The most common system is called the Harvard system. There is no definitive version of the Harvard system and most universities have their own. But the one used here - the American Psychological Association style - is well known and often used (American Psychological Association, 1983, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2010).
- Click here or see Gibaldi (2003) and Modern Languages Association (1998, 2009, 2016) for another way.
- Many scientists use a numerical system, often called the Vancouver style or BS 1629. Click here or see International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (1991),, US National Library of Medicine or Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers (2nd edition) for more information.
- Another common system is that defined in the Chicago Manual of Style. In fact the Chicago Manual of Style presents two basic systems: (1) a numerical system and (2) an author-date system. Choosing between the two depends on your subject and institution. See here or University of Chicago Press (2010) or Chicago Manual of Style.
A good, but idiocyncratic, overview can be found in Pears & Shields (2008).
ReferencesAbercrombie, D. (1968). Paralanguage. British Journal of Disorders ofCommunication, 3, 55-59.Barr, P., Clegg, J. & Wallace, C. (1981). Advanced reading skills. London: Longman.Chomsky, N. (1973). Linguistic theory. In J. W. Oller & J. C. Richards (Eds.), Focus on the learner (pp. 29-35). Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.Fromkin, V. & Rodman, R. (1983). An introduction to language. London: Holt-Saunders.Guiora, A. Z., Paluszny, M., Beit-Hallahmi, B., Catford, J. C., Cooley, R. E. & Dull, C. Y. (1975). Language and person: Studies in language behaviour. Language Learning, 25, 43-61.GVU's 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/usersurveys/survey1997-10/Kinsella, V. (Ed.). (1978). Language teaching and linguistics: Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Lipinsky, E. & Bender, R. (1980). Critical voices on the economy. Survey, 25, 38-42.Oller, J. W. & Richards, J. C. (Eds.). (1973). Focus on the learner. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.Longman dictionary of contemporary English. (1978). London: Longman.Smith, F. (1978). Reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Stern, H. H. & Weinrib, A. (1978). Foreign languages for younger children: Trends and assessment. In V. Kinsella (Ed.), Language teaching and linguistics: Surveys (pp. 152-172). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Use heading: References.
Page numbers should be included for all articles in journals and in collections.
Use italics (or underlining in handwriting) for titles of books, periodicals, newspapers etc.
Use alphabetical order. Alphabetise works with no author by the first significant word in the title.
All co-authors should be listed.
Indent second etc. lines
Use (n.d.) if no date is given.
If the author of a document is not given, begin the reference with the title of the document.
a. One author:Smith, F. (1978). Reading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
b. Two authors:Fromkin, V. & Rodman, R. (1983). An introduction to language. London: Holt-Saunders.
c. More than two authors:Barr, P., Clegg, J. & Wallace, C. (1981). Advanced reading skills. London: Longman.
d. Edited collections:Kinsella, V. (Ed.). (1978). Language teaching and linguistics: Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Oller, J. W. & Richards, J. C. (Eds.). (1973). Focus on the learner. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.
e. Book, corporate author:British Council Teaching Information Centre. (1978). Pre-sessional courses for overseas students. London: British Council.
f. Book, no author, or editor:Longman dictionary of contemporary English. (1978). London: Longman.The Times atlas of the world (5th ed.). (1975). New York: New York Times.
g. Book, third edition:Fromkin, V. & Rodman, R. (1983). An introduction to language (3rd ed.). London: Holt-Saunders.
h. Book, revised edition:Cohen, J. (1977). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences (rev. ed.). New York: Plenum Press.
i. Non-English book:Piaget, J. & Inhelder, B. (1951). La genése de l’idée de hasard chez l’enfant [The origin of the idea of danger in the child]. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
j. English translation of a book:Luria, A. R. (1969). The mind of a mnemonist (L. Solotaroff, Trans.). New York: Avon Books. (Original work published 1965)
k. Books or articles, two or more by the same author in the same year:Lyons, J. (1981a). Language and linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Lyons, J. (1981b). Language, meaning and context. London: Fontana.
3. Periodical articles
a. One author:Abercrombie, D. (1968). Paralanguage. British Journal of Disorders ofCommunication, 3, 55-59.
b. Two authors:Lipinsky, E. & Bender, R. (1980). Critical voices on the economy. Survey, 25, 38-42.
c. More than two authors:Guiora, A. Z., Paluszny, M., Beit-Hallahmi, B., Catford, J. C., Cooley, R. E. & Dull, C. Y. (1975). Language and person: Studies in language behaviour. Language Learning, 25, 43-61.
d. Review of a book:Carmody, T. P. (1982). A new look at medicine from a social perspective [Review of the book Social contexts of health, illness and patient care, by E. G. Mishler, L. R. Amarasingham, S. D. Osherson, S. T. Hauser, N. E. Waxler & R. Liem]. Contemporary Psychology, 27, 208-209.
e. Review of a book, no title:Maley, A. (1994). [Review of the book Critical language awareness, by N. Fairclough]. Applied Linguistics, 15, 348-350.
f. Magazine article:Gardner, H. (1981, December). Do babies sing a universal song? Psychology Today, 70-76.
g. Newspaper article:James, R. (1991, December 15). Obesity affects economic social status. The Guardian, p. 18
h. Newspaper/Magazine article, no author:Acid attack ‘scarred girl for life’. (1986, October 21). The Guardian, p. 4.(In the essay use a short form of the title for citation: ("Acid Attack." 1986))
i. Newspaper article, letter to the editor:Hain, P. (1986, October 21). The police protection that women want [Letter to the editor]. The Guardian, p. 4.
j. Journal article, in press:
Johns, A. M. (in press) Written argumentation for real audiences. TESOL Quarterly.
k. An on-line journal article:
Jacobson, J. W., Mulick, J. A. Schwartz, A. A. (1995). A history of facilitated communication: Science, pseudoscience, and antiscience: Science working group on facilitated communication. American Psychologist, 50, 750-765. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/journals/jacobson.html
l. Journal article, with DOI:Gillett, A. J. & Hammond, A. C. (2009). Mapping the maze of assessment: An investigation into practice. Active Learning in Higher Education, 10, 120-137. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787409104786
4. Selections from edited collections
a. One author:Chomsky, N. (1973). Linguistic theory. In J. W. Oller & J. C. Richards (Eds.), Focus on the learner (pp. 29-35). Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.
b. Two authors:Stern, H. H. & Weinrib, A. (1978). Foreign languages for younger children: Trends and assessment. In V. Kinsella (Ed.), Language teaching and linguistics: Surveys (pp. 152-172). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
c. One author, second edition:Wadeson, H. (2001). An eclectic approach to art therapy. In J. A. Rubin (Ed.), Approaches to art therapy: Theory and technique (2nd ed., pp. 306-318). New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.
5. CD ROMs etc
a. Newspaper or magazine on CD-ROM:Gardner, H. (1981, December). Do babies sing a universal song? Psychology Today [CD-ROM], pp. 70-76.
b. Abstract on CD-ROM:Meyer, A. S. & Bock, K. (1992). The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon: Blocking or partial activation? [CD-ROM]. Memory Cognition, 20, 715-726. Abstract from: SilverPlatter File: PsycLIT Item: 80-16351
c. Article from CD-ROM Encyclopedia:Crime. (1996). In Microsoft Encarta 1996 Encyclopedia [CD-ROM]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation.
d. Dictionary on CD-ROM:Oxford English dictionary computer file: On compact disc (2nd ed.) [CD-ROM]. (1992). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
6. Documents obtained from the Internet
All references begin with the same information that would be provided for a printed source (or as much of that information as possible). The WWW information is then placed at the end of the reference in the same way as publishing information is given for books. It is not necessary to give the date of retrieval unless the document on the Web may change in content - e.g. a wiki - move, or be removed from a site altogether.
The object of this is the same as all referencing - to supply the information needed to allow a user to find a source. If you do not know the author or the date and it does not have a clear title, think carefully before using it. See Evaluating Sources.
a. A journal article:Jacobson, J. W., Mulick, J. A. Schwartz, A. A. (1995). A history of facilitated communication: Science, pseudoscience, and antiscience: Science working group on facilitated communication. American Psychologist, 50, 750-765. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/journals/jacobson.html
b. Journal article, with DOI:Gillett, A. J. & Hammond, A. C. (2009). Mapping the maze of assessment: An investigation into practice. Active Learning in Higher Education, 10, 120-137. doi: 10.1177/1469787409104786
c. A newspaper article:Sleek, S. (1996, January). Psychologists build a culture of peace. The New York Times, pp. 1, 33 Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com
d. WWW Document:Li, X. & Crane, N. (1996, May 20). Bibliographic formats for citing electronic information. Retrieved from http://www.uvm.edu/~xli/reference/estyles.html
e. WWW Document - corporate author:World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). (1995, May 15). About the World Wide Web. Retrieved from http://www.w3.org/hypertext/WWW/
f. WWW Document - corporate author:American Psychological Association (1996). How to cite information from the world wide web. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/journals/webref.html
g. WWW Document - no author:A field guide to sources on, about and on the Internet: Citation formats. (1995, Dec 18). Retrieved from http://www.cc.emory.edu/WHSCL/citation.formats.html
h. WWW Document - no author, no date:WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.wast.ac.uk/usersurveys/survey2000-10/
i. An abstract:Rosenthal, R. (1995). State of New Jersey v. Margaret Kelly Michaels: An overview [Abstract]. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 1, 247–271. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/journals/ab1.html
j. Wikipedia Document - no author, no date, source material may change over time:Psychology. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology
k. Entry in online reference work, no author, editor or date:Heuristic (n.d.) In Merriam-Webster's online dictionary (11th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/heuristic
l. Page from a website:Gillett, A. (2017). Academic writing: Writing a list of references. Retrieved from http://www.uefap.net/writing/writing-references/writing-references-introduction
m. Blog post:Gillett, A. (2015, February 23). EAP and student motivation [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.uefap.net/blog/?p=176
a. Government report:National Institute of Mental Health. (1982). Television and behaviour: Ten years of scientific progress and implications for the eighties (DHHS Publication No. ADM82-1195). Washington DC: US Government Printing Office.
b. Publication with no date given:Malachi, Z. (Ed.). (n.d.) Proceedings of the International Conference on Literary and Linguistic Copmputing. Tel Aviv: Faculty of Humanities, Tel Aviv University.
c. Unpublished dissertation or thesis:Devins, G. M. (1981). Helplessness, depression, and mood in end-stage renal disease. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, McGill University, Montreal.
d. Unpublished conference paper:Howarth, P. (1995, March). Phraseological standards in EAP. Paper presented at the meeting of the British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes, Nottingham.
e. Film or videotape:Maas, J. B. (Producer), and Gluck, D. H. (Director). (1979). Deeper into hypnosis [Film]. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.