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Grammar Corner: Citing Sources

(This article was originally published in the October 2019 issue of Paper Jam; always check for updates for different formatting systems like MLA or APA.)

For almost every paper you will write in college, you’re going to have to cite sources. The connection you make between quotes and your paper is important. Quotes cannot be thrown in a paper without some form of explanation. Also, pulling information from texts won’t always come in the form of a direct quote. Another form of citing is paraphrasing which is when you take what the author is saying and put it into your own words. Whether you are using direct quotes or paraphrasing, you must include citations.

In-text citations vary depending on what format your paper is written in. For MLA format, the most common format that is required in English classes, in-text citations must include the author’s last name and the page number from which you pulled the quote. For example, if you are quoting James Joyce and found a quote on the second page of his writing, your in-text citation would look like this: (Joyce 2). This in-text citation will come at the end of your quote or paraphrased sentence. For APA format, a format mostly used for research papers, the rules are pretty much the same except instead of adding the page number next to the author’s last name you will put the year of publication. For example, if you are referencing Ivan Pavlov’s study that took place in 1927 then your in-text citation will look like this: (Pavlov, 1927).

Once your essay is complete, you’ll have to include a Works Cited (MLA) or Reference (APA) page. For MLA format, you will list in this order: the author’s last name, the author’s first name, the title of the book, the city of publication, the publisher, and the date of publication. An example of what this would look like is:

Joyce, James. Ulysses. London. Bodley Head, 1969.

For APA format, you will list in this order: the author’s last name, first and middle name initial, the year of publication, the title of the book, the location of publication, and the publisher. An example of what this would look like is:

Pavlov, I. (1927). Conditioned reflexes. New York, NY, US. Oxford University


All your sources should be cited and listed in alphabetical order, no matter what format you are using. There should also be an indent for each line that comes after the first which is known as a hanging indent:

These three sentences are an example of how citations should be formatted on

your works cited page. Some citations may be longer than others and take up more line space. If this occurs then just make sure that all the lines after the first line are indented like this.

Citations are complex and there are many more formats in which citations could be written in besides MLA and APA. For more information on citations visit the Reedley College website, click the ‘Library’ tab, then click on the ‘How To Cite’ tab.

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