When you’re writing a personal story, the reader believes what you write based on whether it seems logically possible. The reader might also believe you without question if you’re someone they know and trust. You don’t usually need references in a personal story. Not so when you’re writing an academic paper. Whenever you use another person’s thoughts, ideas, theories, and concept, you must give credit to that source. Also, when you include facts, statistics, images, graphs, charts, and visuals from others, you should acknowledge them. Referencing style, editorial style or formatting style all refer to the same thing. As a student, you should fully grasp each of the different referencing styles. It’s the only way to avoid plagiarism.
It’s admitting you did not generate the information you’ve used in your academic paper, article or book. It’s giving credit to others for having prepared the material you used.
When you reference a source, we say you have cited it. Most People use the terms references and citations interchangeably. There’s a slight difference between the two terms, but we’ll explain that later.
Referencing leads your readers directly to the places where you found the information you’ve presented in your work. It offers them an opportunity to scrutinize the source and determine its reliability for themselves. If you don’t reference your sources, your professor will likely accuse you of plagiarism.
….the information you’ve presented is common knowledge. For example, pretty much everyone knows Barrack Obama was America’s first ever African American president. “Obama, America’s first ever African-American president…” You don’t need to provide a citation here. If you’re unsure whether you need a citation or not, cite the source.
However, your paper must not be full of in-text citations and other people’s ideas. Tell readers what you think. Let your analysis and thoughts give your academic work a bit of personality.
You’ve used a particular source in your work. Do you cite or reference it? You do both. A citation (usually called in-text citation) appears in a sentence, either as a part of it or at the end of it. In contrast, references appear as a list at the end of the main text. References are an expansion of in-text citations.
Each referencing style uses a specific name for its reference list’s title. For example, in APA, you call your references list “References.” You should create a separate page at the end of your essay or research paper and title it appropriately.
In MLA, you title your references list “Works Cited.” You should organize the references in APA, MLA, or Chicago alphabetically. We’ll provide in-text citation and reference examples for different formatting styles.
A bibliography is different from “Works Cited” or “References.” In References and Works Cited, you’ll only list the specific sources you cited. A bibliography, in contrast, presents every source you consulted. A bibliography includes every reference, whether you cited it or not. When formatting your paper in the Turabian or Chicago style, you’ll typically have a “Biography” page at the end of the work.
Sources fall into three main categories. These are primary, secondary, and peer-reviewed sources.
These are firsthand accounts of a period in history or an event. They’re original documents. Sometimes, primary sources may be available in their original form. Other times, they may be available in a digitized, reproduced, or reprinted form. Generally, you should use primary sources whenever you can find them.
Primary sources include texts such as novels, books diaries, autobiographies, government reports, news articles, and letters. Artifacts such as sculptures and buildings are also primary sources. So are paintings, advertisements, photographs, interviews, songs, and films.
Sometimes, newspapers cite other sources that are primary sources. If you rely on a source cited in a newspaper, the newspaper becomes a secondary source. You should find the source the journalist referenced.
Secondary sources are “sources about primary sources.” Secondary sources include interpretations or discussions about such materials. Examples of secondary sources include encyclopedias, textbooks, movie reviews, criticisms, commentaries, and plays.
Secondary sources might also include journal articles that attempt to explain findings from studies. Newspapers and magazine articles are also secondary sources.
A peer-reviewed source is a source that has survived the scrutiny of top scholars in a particular field. Peer-reviewed articles provide high-quality, authoritative information. Can you easily recognize peer-reviewed articles? Here’s how you can identify a peer-reviewed article:
Let’s dive right in and learn how to cite sources. We’ll discuss different referencing styles and provide examples on how to apply them. How you cite a newspaper article, government report or an electronic source may not be how you cite a book or a movie. It may be not possible at this time s to show you how to cite every type of source.
For that reason, we’ll focus on how to cite books, short stories, chapters, and articles in books. We’ll show you how to write in-text citations and references using APA, MLA, Chicago-Turabian, IEE, and CSE. There other styles such as OSCOLA and all the rest, but we’ll focus on these five.
Each field of study tends to favor a specific referencing style. English, literature, communications, foreign language, and religious studies prefer the Modern Language Association style (MLA).
Education, psychology, sociology, economics, business, nursing, and linguistic studies typically follow the American Psychological Association (APA) style. Generally, the social sciences follow this editorial style.
Generally, history, fine arts, philosophy, art history, and anthropology usually use Chicago style.
IEEE is the preferred referencing style preferred by engineering, computer science, information technology, and information science.
Academic writers in biology, physics, chemistry, geology, and astronomy typically format their work using CSE.
Let’s us now consider each of these formatting styles.
Science and all its related areas such as geology and astronomy use CSE as the preferred referencing style. Every author, editor, publisher, or student producing scientific work should grasp how CSE works. The style offers three different systems for documenting sources. All three systems include a reference list at the end of the main text. As you’d expect, each of the sub-style includes in-text citations. The three systems are:
Regardless of the system chosen, you should place each citation immediately after the source you wish to acknowledge.
When using this citation style, list all the sources you’ve referenced. Order the references alphabetically by author(s) last name(s). Then, number the references 1,2,3….and so on. The number indicating a citation on the references list should be the same as that used for the corresponding in-text citation.
That means the work you cite first within your text isn’t always first on the references list. Why? Alphabetical ordering determines how full citations (references) appear. You cannot assign number #1 to the first in-text citation if the citation occurs at number #20 on the references list. Note: The numbers in the in-text citations should be in superscript.
Suppose you have four sources to cite — James, Christine, Brown, and Swift. Here’s how the sources would appear on the references list:
Notice that the ordering is in alphabetical order. Let’s assume you have Swift as the first in-text citation. Your in-text citation should use superscript4 even if it’s the first source.
After examining the evidence, Swift4 asserted that the claims made by Glen lacked logical sense.
Each time you use the reference by Swift, you should label that citation with superscript 4.
A number in superscript or a number enclosed in parentheses designates each in-text citation in this system. In this system, you should number and order the items on the references list by the sequence followed by your in-text citations. That means the first citation in the main text appears first on the references list.
After examining the evidence, Swift1 asserted that the claims made by Glen lacked logical sense.
After examining the evidence, Swift (1) asserted that the claims made by Glen lacked logical sense.
Let’s cite James:
James2 demonstrated that salary increment does not always result in increased employee productivity.
On the references list, our sources would appear like this:
Either Christine or Brown would follow James depending on the source you cited first. Notice that the entries on the references list do not follow alphabetical order.
Name-year System/Harvard Referencing Style
The name-year system works the same way as the Harvard referencing style. It’s an author-date format. Write the last name of the author(s) followed by the source’s publication date. The last name of the author(s) should either appear in the main text or in parentheses. Where you have several sources in one parenthetic citation, arrange them by date, starting with the earliest reference.
After examining the evidence, Swift (2013) asserted that the claims made by Glen lacked logical sense.
A thorough examination of the evidence showed that the assertion Glen made lacked logical sense (Swift 2013).
What if we have both Swift and James as sources in the same sentence?
Studies that thoroughly examined the evidence concluded that the assertions Glen made lacked logical sense (Swift 2013; James 2011).
Note: this system doesn’t use superscript numbers. Nor should you number the entries on the references list.
What if I want to cite sources prepared by the same author in different periods? Do it this way:
(Swift 2013, 2015).
When citing references authored within the same year by the same author, do it this way:
(Swift 2013a, 2013b).
Where authors have the same last name, write their initials in your in-text citation to differentiate them. For example: (Swift R and Swift B 2013).
Full citations: Citation-name and Citation-sequence Systems
Here’s the general format: Author(s). Title. Edition (where applicable). Place where published: publisher’s name; publication year. The number of pages.
Stanley, T. The Millionaire Mind. London: Transworld Publishers; 2000. p 70.
That’s how the full reference should look like in the reference list for both citation-name and citation-sequence systems.
Full citation: Name-year system
Here’s the general format:
Author(s). Year. Book title. Edition (where applicable). Place where published: publisher’s name. Number of pages.
Here’s how the source we cited in the previous section would look like:
Stanley, T. 2000. The Millionaire Mind. 2nd ed. London. Transworld Publishers. p 70.
Referencing an Edited Book Using Citation-name and Citation-sequence Systems
Chapter Author(s). Chapter title. In: author (s) or editor (s). Book title. Edition (where applicable). Place where published: publisher name; year. Chapter pages.
Stanley, T. “The Relationship between Courage and Wealth.” In: Christine Schillig, editor. The Millionaire Mind. London: Transworld Publishers; 2000. p. 143–190.
Referencing a Chapter in an Edited Book Using Name-year system
Here’s the general format.
Chapter Author(s). Year. Chapter title. In: author(s) or editor(s). Book title. Edition (where applicable). Publication place. Publisher name. Chapters.
Stanley, T. 2000. “The Relationship between Courage and Wealth.” In: Christine Schillig. The Millionaire Mind. 2nd ed. London: Transworld Publishers. p. 143–190.
Notice that we’ve indented the second line a half inch. We didn’t indent the other sources because they were only one line of text.
When writing in-text citations in APA, provide the author(s) last name (s) and the year when the source got published. You can write in-text citations within the text or after a statement. For example:
Stanley (2000) states that questioning the norm or even authority differentiates millionaires and those likely to become rich from others. Or,
People who question the norm or even authority have a higher likelihood of becoming millionaires than everyone else (Stanley, 2000). Notice that the period stays outside of the parentheses.
It’s always best to paraphrase sources. While you can quote sources directly, you should avoid writing too many long quotations. Your professor might think you’re more interested in meeting the word count than delivering substance.
When quoting a source directly, write the author(s) name, year, and page number. For example:
Stanley (2000) states that questioning the norm and even authority “differentiates millionaires and those likely to become rich from others” (p. 103). Another way to present your point would be:
People who “question the norm or even authority” have a higher likelihood of becoming millionaires than everyone else (Stanley, 2000, p.103).
Author(s) last name(s), First initial. Second initial (where given). Year. Book title: subtitle (where applicable) or edition (if given; not first edition, though). City, province, state, or country where published: Publisher name.
Stanley, T.J. (2000). The Millionaire Mind (2nd ed.). London: Transworld Publishers.
If it’s just two authors, simply separate the name of the first and second author with “and.”
Hansen, M.V and Allen R. (2002). The One Minute Millionaire. London: Ebury Publishing.
If there are more than seven authors, simply write the last name of the first author followed by et al. Where you have seven or fewer authors, separate their names with commas, using “and” between the last two names. The rest of the format doesn’t change.
Note: you should only include all the names the first time you cite a source. During subsequent citations, present the last name of the first author followed by et al.
Victor, Robert, Jack, Browne, and Canfield (2015) find that most students have trouble using APA while citing sources.
Students experience problems while formatting their work in APA (Victor, Robert, Jack, Browne, and Canfield, 2015).
A subsequent citation:
(Victor et al., 2015).
If you’ve quoted a source directly, always include the page number (s). For example: (Victor et al., 2015, p. 100).
Sometimes, the author is an organization, a corporate body or a government department such as WHO or American Psychological Association.
Here’s the format to use:
Name of author. Year. Book title: subtitle, where applicable (edition — not first edition). Publication place (city, province, state or country): Publisher name.
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6thed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Note: Write the word “author” at the end of your reference if the publisher is also the author of the source.
The general format:
Author(s) last name, first initial. Second initial, where given. (Year). Short story, chapter, essay, or article title. Editor’s first initial. Editor’s second initial, where applicable (Ed.), Book title (Edition where provided — no first edition), pp. first page no. – last page no.). Place of publication— city, province, state, or country: Publisher name.
Stanley, T.J. (2000). The Home. C. Schillig (Ed.), The Millionaire Mind (2nd ed., pp. 317 – 371.). London: Transworld Publishers.
Remember: the references list page in APA bears the title “References.”
If you’re pursuing a liberal arts degree, you’ve likely noticed your professor usually asks you to follow MLA for citations. The 8th edition is the most current edition of MLA. A citation in MLA follows the following general format:
Last name, First name. Book title. City of publication, publisher’s name, publication date.
Note: You only include the city of publication details if your source’s got published before 1900. Also, include City of Publication information if the publisher has offices in several countries. The other instance when you should include such information is if the publisher remains unknown outside North America. You’ll want to use sources much newer than the year 1900, though.
When writing in-text citations in MLA, include the author’s last name and the source’s page number.
People who question the norm or even authority have a higher likelihood of becoming millionaires than everyone else (Stanley 103).
You can also write the previous sentence this way:
Stanley states that questioning the norm and even authority differentiates millionaires and those likely to become rich from others (103). Notice that MLA’s in-text citations don’t include the year of publication. Instead, they show the last name of the author followed by the page number. Also, notice that there’s no period or comma between the author’s name and the page number.
Stanley, Thomas. The Millionaire Mind. Transworld Publishers, 2000.
Note: We’ve not included the city of publication information as the publisher operates in London (known outside the U.S.). Now, that’s pretty straightforward.
Format: Last name, first name of first author, and First name, last name of the second author.
For example: (Victor and Allen103).
Here’s the general format of a full citation in MLA (Two Authors):
Author’s last name, author’s first name, and first name last name of the other author. Bok title: Subtitle if any. Edition (where applicable), publisher name, publication year.
When citing a book authored by two people, present the names of these authors the way they appear in the book. NOTE: You should present the first author’s name in the last name-first name format. The other author’s name (s) should appear in the first name-last name format. Put “and” between the first author’s name and the second author’s name. Here’s an example:
Victor, Mark, and Robert Allen. The One Minute Millionaire. Ebury Publishing, 2002.
Here’s how your in-text citation should appear:
(First author’s last name et al. page number).
(Victor et al. 65).
First author’s last name, first author’s first name, et al. Book title: Subtitle, where applicable. Edition, where given, publisher’s name, publication year.
Victor, Mark, et al. How to Reference a book in MLA. Simmons and Schuster, 2017. (You won’t find this book — we made it up!).
In-text citation in MLA
(Name of author page number)
For example: (American Allergy Association 5).
Here’s the general format:
Name of author. Book title: subtitle (if any). Edition, where applicable, publisher’s name, publication year.
For example: American Allergy Association. Allergies in Children. Random House, 1998.
Note: Where the author and publisher are the same, present the title first. Don’t include the author’s name. Indicate the book’s author only as the publisher.
For example: Allergies in Children. American Allergy Association, 1998.
(Author’s last name page number).
For example: (Stanley 105).
Author’s last name, author’s first name. “Title of chapter, story, essay, or article.” Book title: Subtitle where applicable, edited by first and last name of editor, Edition where applicable, publisher, year, page numbers.
Stanley, Thomas. “The Economically Productive Household.” The Millionaire Mind, Edited by Christine Schillig, 2nd ed., Transworld Publishers, 2000, 288–316.
Here’s the general format:
(Editor’s last name page number).
Editor’s last name, Editor’s first name, editor (s). Book title: subtitle where applicable. Edition where applicable, publisher, year of publication.
Simmons, Jon, editor. The Boy Without a Country. 3rd, Simmons and Schuster, 2010.
These two styles appear together here because they’re essentially the same thing. The difference is that Turabian style is supposed to serve students while Chicago caters to the needs of experts and professionals. Turabian style supports slight modifications to Chicago style to meet students’ needs.
History and a few other humanities follow Chicago or Turabian style. The style uses superscript numbers and notes to acknowledge sources. The notes are either endnotes or footnotes. Footnotes appear at the end of your page while endnotes appear at the end of the main text.
The Author-date System: In-text Citations
In this system, you should place your in-text citations inside parentheses. Start with the author’s last name, followed by the year of publication. Finally, write the page number.
(Stanley 2000, 105).
If the authors are three or more, use et al. if you need to refer to a source more than once.
(Bennett, Sanders, and Ray 1999, 250).
If you wish to cite the source above again, use et al.
For example: (Bennett et al. 1999, 250).
If the authors are four or more, write the last name of the first author followed by et al.
(Bennett et al. 1999, 250)
Note: When following the author-date system, you should call the references list “References,” just like you do in APA.
An example would explain best.
Robert Kiyosaki (1997, 150) suggests that “…..….” Note that the period should be inside your quotation marks.
You can also present your statement this way:
Robert Kiyosaki states “……….” (1997, 150). Note: The period should be outside the second parenthesis.
Place your citation at the end of the statement.
The poor stay poor because they don’t accumulate assets (Kiyosaki 1997, 150-152).
(Last name of first author year, page number; last name of second author year, page number)
(Stanley 2000, 105; Kiyosaki 1997, 150). The ordering of the references should be chronological.
The entries on the references list appear in alphabetical order.
Here’s the general format:
Author(s) last name, author (s) first name. Year. Book Title: subtitle. Place of publication: publisher name.
Stanley, Thomas. 2000. The Millionaire Mind. London: Transworld Publishers.
Author’s last name, author(s) first name. Year. “Chapter, short story, article, or essay title. “In Book title: subtitle, edited by editor(s) name (s), page range. Place of publication: publisher.
Stanley, Thomas. 2000. “Success Factors.” In The Millionaire Mind, edited by Christine Schillig, 41– 97. London: Transworld Publishers.
Place a superscript number at the end of your sentence or clause. You should put the superscript number after quotation marks and punctuation. However, your superscript number should always appear before dashes, not after them.
Stanley finds that for every 100 millionaires who pay a home’s asking price, there are 614 who pay a lower price than the asking price.5
What if you decided to use a direct quote? Just include the page numbers.
Stanley finds that for every 100 millionaires willing to pay a home’s asking price, there are “614 who never paid the initial asking price” (329). 5
The note (whether endnote or footnote) should appear like this:
Number (same as superscript number). Author’s first name, author’s last name, book title, (place of publication, name of publisher, year), page numbers of pages referenced.
Referring to a Source Two Times or More
The second time you refer to a source, include the author’s last name, a shortened version of the title and the page number(s). Here’s the format:
Author’s last name, shortened title (usually the main keywords), page numbers.
Stanley, The Millionaire, 330-342.
Note: If you’ve referred to a source more than twice in a row, just type Ibid and the page number(s). Ibid means “in the same place.” Order your endnote or footnote numbers the way they appear in the main text, 1,2,3,4…
The footnote or endnote would appear like this:
The author-date system uses the term “References” for the references list. In contrast, the notes and bibliography system uses “Bibliography.” References and biographies should be in alphabetical order. The ordering considers the first letter in the first word in each citation.
Note: you should have footnotes on each page. The endnotes may come at the end of each chapter or the end of the document. That should be right after the “Bibliography” or “References page.”
IEEE is the preferred style for when you’re writing reports and papers in telecommunications, computer science, engineering, or information technology. Numbers in square brackets [x] designate in-text citations. The entries on the references list should appear in the same sequence as in-text citations.
You should number your citations sequentially, that is, in the order you present them.  indicates the first reference,  is for the second reference and so on. Allow a space before each bracket. Note: you should place your citation before any punctuation.
You don’t need to mention the author’s name, date or page numbers. However, you can still mention the author’s name if you wish.
Stanly  finds that…
Use a source’s assigned number every other time you need to refer to it. Where you have to cite several references in the same sentence, list the numbers separately, each in its own brackets.
Most affluent individuals do not put all their investment eggs in one, vulnerable basket . If you need to refer to a source, simply write “In [x].
If you need to refer to the source we used above, write:
In , it is a myth that millionaires invest all of the money they make back into their businesses all of the time. Instead, affluent people diversify their investments.
When you cite multiple sources in the same sentence, use commas to separate them:
Three recent studies , ,  revealed that…. You can also use a dash when citing multiple references in the same text.
Three recent studies  –  revealed that…
Maybe it’s better to go with the “comma method” than the “dash” method.
Citations on the references list appear as they do in the main text. Order your references numerically. Create a separate page at the end of your report or paper and title it “References.” Keep the title centered or aligned left. Create a hanging indent for each entry (on the references list) to highlight the numerical sequence of your full citations.
Here’s the general format:
[x] Author’s first name initial. Last name, Book Title. Place of publication: Publisher, year.
 T. Stanley, The Millionaire Mind. London: Transworld Publishers, 2000.
[x] Chapter Author’s first name initial. Last name, “Chapter title,” in Book Title. City, state, or country of publisher: Publisher, year, ch. (chapter) or section (sec.) number year, pp. page range.
 T. Stanley, “The Relationship between Courage and Wealth,” in The Millionaire Mind. London: Transworld Publishers, 2000, ch. 4, pp. 143–145.
Chapter author ‘s first name initial. Last name, “Chapter title,” in Book title, edition (where applicable)., vol. x (where applicable). Editor(s) first name initial. Last name (s), Ed or Eds. Publisher city, state, or country: name of publisher, year, ch. or sec., pp. (page range).
We’ve discussed five commonly used referencing styles in academic writing. We’ve covered Chicago-Turabian, APA, MLA, CSE, and IEEE. The examples provided in this writing mostly relate to how you should cite books, short stories, articles, and chapters in books. We’ve used lots of subtitles and type to help you find information of interest quickly. It’s best to learn how to apply each of the styles manually, but you can always use online tools. Find the software application that works best for you, and cite your sources accurately fast. Bibme.com is a great place to start (It’s free).