Category Archives: Sources

Citing Sources

As your textbook mentions, there are lots of ways to indicate where information comes from in your writing. The main academic ways are APA and MLA style.

Let’s use one example to highlight the differences. Thomas Friedman recently wrote an op-ed about online education in universities. What if we wanted to use information from his article in an academic paper?

APA

Used mostly in the sciences. Emphasis is on author and date (Smith, 2007, p. 34) in text. On the References page, the source looks like this:

Friedman, T. (2013, January 26). Revolution hits the universities. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/opinion/sunday/friedman-revolution-hits-the-universities.html?_r=0

Note: your References page would use hanging indents for the source (where the first line “sticks out” and the rest of the lines are tabbed in. WordPress doesn’t easily allow for this concept to be represented). Likewise for MLA.

MLA

Used mostly in the humanities. Emphasis in text put on author and page number (Smith 34) in text. On the Works Cited page, the source looks like this:

Friedman, Thomas L. “Revolution Hits the Universities.” The New York Times, 27 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2013.

Notice the differences: capitalization differs, order differs, use of italics differs. Online citation generators, while useful, won’t necessarily catch these mistakes, so make sure you double-check your citations.

Non-Academic Styles

There are also other ways to cite a source, especially when we’re considering online writing.

You can use links in-text (like I did above as well):

According to a recent article, Friedman says he “can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world.”

You can use a “Sources” list at the end:

[Main Text]

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/opinion/sunday/friedman-revolution-hits-the-universities.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&

You can use footnotes + a source list:

[Main Text with reference to source.(1)]

Sources:

(1) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/opinion/sunday/friedman-revolution-hits-the-universities.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&

Or, you can do a kind of hybrid academic-casual citation system where you write as usual in APA or MLA and provide a Works Cited or References section at the end to maintain a more “academic” feel to your text:

APA: The author says he “can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world” (Friedman, 2013).

References:

Friedman, T. (2013, January 26). Revolution hits the universities. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/opinion/sunday/friedman-revolution-hits-the-universities.html?_r=0

MLA: The author says he “can see a day soon where you’ll create your own college degree by taking the best online courses from the best professors from around the world” (Friedman).

Works Cited:

Friedman, Thomas L. “Revolution Hits the Universities.” The New York Times, 27 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2013.

Of course, some websites don’t cite their sources at all. Bad idea! You gain reader trust, and often better comments, if you allow your audience to see where you’re getting your information. The way you choose to display your sources can subtly alter reader perceptions of you and your site.

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