One of the difficult parts of writing an essay is incorporating citations into the flow of your sentences. We’ve put together some examples, advice, and tips for how you can effectively use your source material and work in seamless citations.
When to Cite
Many of the rules that make up APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. exist specifically to help students avoid plagiarism and to help readers find where an author’s research comes from. Because of this, you should make sure that any ideas or information you gain from another paper, person, or conversation is properly cited in your work. PERRLA makes this fast and easy. Click here to learn how to insert a citation into your PERRLA paper.
Here are all of the specific things that you should be sure to cite when writing:
- Using a direct quote
- Paraphrasing or summarizing the work or ideas of another person
- Using an image, table, graph, or another image that you did not create yourself
- When using data collected by others (experiments, surveys, research, etc.)
- Referencing artwork (painting, drawings, movies, music, e-books, etc.)
- When using the argument structure from someone else
- Using information gained through conversation or interview
Tip: When in doubt about whether you should cite something, cite it. It is always better to over-cite than to accidentally plagiarize.
Where to Put Citations
The most common place to put a citation is at the end of the sentence that includes the source information. However, you can also include citations directly after the source’s material in the middle of a sentence or after a series of sentences that paraphrase the source.
Both APA and MLA use in-text or parenthetical citations. While there are slight differences in what their parenthetical citations look like, they both follow similar patterns. Here are a few examples of their general structure.
Citation at the end of a sentence
When you place a citation at the end of a sentence, it always comes directly before the final punctuation. There should be one space between the last word and the start of the citation, but there should not be any spaces between the final punctuation and the end of the citation.
- “I would dream of the Yeti as a child,” says Jones (citation).
- After many years of searching, Dr. Stanley would eventually discover the Yeti in southwest Nepal [citation].
- The yeti appeared before them and said: “Hello” (citation).
There are times when it may be best to cite your material in the middle of a sentence. This may be to clarify possibly ambiguous citations or when you use more than one source’s information in one sentence. In these situations, the citation should be placed so that it fits into the sentence as naturally as possible.
- While Dr. Stanley’s research and experience support the larger bodied yeti (citation), Dr. Smith’s research points to a much smaller framed primate (citation).
- Bigfoot sightings in Oregon spiked in 2012 (citation), but according to DNR research, there was a dramatic decline in the local population (citation).
- Dr. William’s passionate plea for creating a sasquatch reserve in 2009 (citation) was largely ignored by the public.
When the text you are working to paraphrase doesn’t easily fit into a single sentence, you can cite your work at the end of the paraphrased material. However, the paraphrase should not be interrupted by your own ideas. If the paraphrase is interrupted, then each segment should be cited independently. In this example, the paraphrased material will be in italics.
- Dr. Smith’s research points to a population of approximately 200 individuals living within the park’s border. While the pod does contain mostly older adults, there are signs of a new generation emerging (citation). This opens the door for a peaceful coexistence between us and our primate cousins.
- Dr. Smith’s research points to a population of approximately 200 individuals living within the park’s border (citation). This large of a group would certainly mean that shrinking wilderness areas are hurting the group. However, the pod does is showing signs of a new younger generation within the park (citation).
Citing Long Quotes
If the quotation is longer than 40 words, omit the quotation marks, offset it 1/2 inch from the left margin, and leave it double-spaced. The parenthetical citation should come after the final punctuation.
Thus the Yeti would become a source of great interest and research for Dr. Jones as she left the university for the mountains of Asia. Her travels would begin in the Himalayan mountains near the eastern edge of India. Over the next four years, she would cross this area collecting the local legends, folklore, and stories handed down through dozens of generations. [citation]
Just like all other citation forms, the easiest way to format long quotes is to use PERRLA’s built-in blockquote function.
Tip: Long quotes can be useful for including complex ideas that are not easily paraphrased. However, they should be used very sparingly.