Citing Sources

There are many different ways to incorporate outside information into what you are writing. What follows is a brief description of some of the strategies and "rules" concerning the use of outside sources.

Using information in your text

Direct Quotation: When a source presents the information you are looking for in a vivid and memorable way (i.e., you couldn't put it better), then quote directly from the source. Never simply put a quotation in your paper without making reference to it, or connecting its point to yours.

No matter how the information is set up, if it is a direct quote from the source, it needs to be in quotation marks AND have MLA parenthetical citation after it. If you mention the author's name within your text, and that is the only book by that author, you need not repeat the name in the parenthetical; simply put the page number. For example,

Just because the citation follows the information does not mean that the direct quote does not need to be in quotation marks. If it is not quoted, or placed in quotation marks, the reader assumes it to be your work, or a paraphrasing of someone else's.

Paraphrasing: When you come across information that is important to a point you are making but it isn't exactly written in the most eloquent way, or is too thick for the reader to quickly grasp, you should consider paraphrasing the information. For example,

Note: this passage is merely an example; if I were using this information, I would choose not to paraphrase the original quotation, simply because the original is more concise.

Summarizing: When a source goes into GREAT detail about something, for instance, a particular study and its detailed preparation, but the information you need is merely the result of the study, you can choose to summarize that information. It is important not to leave out overly pertinent information when summarizing, though. As always, follow the summary with citation information, (Author's last name pg#). For example,

Creating a Works Cited Page

Here's a look at some of the most common kinds of sources and how to list them on a "Works Cited" or Bibliography page. For more information, see the MLA Handbook for Writing Reearch Papers, or you can also use the library's web resources at Library Resources/Citation Style Guides Please note that all entries are double spaced, and all lines after the first are indented (for Word users, follow these menu options: Format, Paragraph, Indentation-Hanging).

(single author)
Guterson, David. Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense. San Diego: Harcourt, 1992.

(multiple authors)
first author last name first; subsequent authors (in alpha. order) first name, last name.

Gottfredson, Stephen G., and Sean McConville. America's Correctional Crisis. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1987.

(unknown author)
just drop the author part.

Rand McNally Commercial Atlas. Skokie, IL: Rand, 1993.

(newspaper, magazine)

Glastris, Paul. "The New Way to Get Rich." U.S. News & World Report 7 May 1990: 26-36.

(anonymous author)
just drop the author part.

"Awash in Garbage." New York Times 15 August 1987, sec. 1: 26.

(article in a reference book)

Suber, Howard. "Motion Picture." Encyclopedia Americana. 1981 ed.

Lewis, C.S. "Letters to C.S. Lewis." Children's Literature Review. Vol. 27. Gerard Senick, ed. Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1992.

When you get information from an online database, you MUST NOT cite it as if it were from the original source. For example, if I got the following article off of the SIRS database (through the library), I would cite it in this way:

Sullivan, Walter. "Adrift on the Bottom of the World." New York Times Magazine 1 November 1992. North Seattle Community College Library, Seattle, WA. Accessed 28 January 2002 <>.

Always make sure to print a copy of the article you're using so you have the base URL and the date of access.

Information from the internet:

When citing a website, first, be aware of its ethos, or authority. Suzie-Q's Daily News isn't the best source for factual information on Shackleton. However, if she quotes another source, it might be what you're looking for-go to the original source. Otherwise, try a more reputable site, one run by an authoritative organization, such as the National Science Foundation.

From the MLA Handbook: "begin the entry with the name of the person who created it (if given and relevant), reversed for alphabetizing and followed by a period. Continue with the title of the site (underlined) or, if there is no title, with a description such as Home page (neither underlined nor in quotation marks); the name of any institution or organization associated with the site; the date of access; and the network address" (Gibaldi 182-183). Example:

"Opportunities for Participation (United States Antarctic Program)." October 2001. National Science Foundation. 28 January 2002 <>.

Notice that the first date given is the "last updated" date usually given at the bottom of a web page. The second date is the date of access. While this date isn't specified in the above directions from the MLA Handbook, it is in their examples, and should be utilized.

**Note: you should still print off any sources from the internet, as information changes daily, possibly hourly on the internet.

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