How To Write A Citation | Step-by-Step Guide

We cannot talk about academic writing without mentioning citations. That is how important a citation is. Citations are used to give credit to the owners of the information you used in your research papers.

Using someone’s intellectual property without acknowledging them in your work is unfair. Citing those sources can even help you reduce the stress of doing so much research in the future. All you have to do is just visit those cited sources again and get the information you need.

Sources are places where you get information, quotes, or ideas that you use in your work. These sources could be web pages, journals, books, articles, or essays.

Learn how to write a citation and the basic things you should know about citation in this article.

What is a Citation?

In this article, you will learn how to write a citation but before that, let us quickly look at what a citation is. A citation is a way to tell the people who read your work that some information you used was extracted or gotten from external sources. 

A citation provides your readers with information that makes it easy for them to access those external sources. The information to be cited could be the page numbers, author’s name, or date of publication.

There are various citation styles you could use to cite sources in your work, and the citation style you use is determined by the information you want to cite.

Why Should You Use Citations?

Talks about citations may come off boring to you. However, there are a lot of benefits you stand to gain when you cite sources in your research papers or projects.

From earning you good grades to adding originality and uniqueness, etc to your work, the many benefits you gain from citation cannot be overemphasized. 

We will discuss how to write a citation but then you may want to know why you should cite sources in your work. So, let’s look at the main reasons you should cite sources in your research papers. 

#1. To give credit to other people’s work

The major reason for citing sources is to give credit to the author’s work. When you give credit to other people’s work, it shows your appreciation for the efforts that the authors have put into producing that work.

For instance, if someone uses your work (research work, academic writing, etc) without acknowledging you as the author, you will feel bad and unappreciated right?

That is just the same way these authors you used their ideas will feel when you don’t cite sources in your work. 

#2. To avoid plagiarism

Copying ideas and information from other sources without citing them is proof that you lack academic integrity.

This will not only earn you a poor grade but could also lead to your expulsion from the institution.

Citing sources in your research project will not only bring originality to your work but will also help avoid plagiarism.
 

Types of Citations

Thinking of how to write a citation in a text? There are various types of in-text citations you can use.

When you paraphrase or quote from other sources in your text, you must cite the sources from which you got those ideas. This can be done using either of the three main citation types.

The following are the three main types of citation:

#1. Note citation

In this type of citation, the source reference is written in the endnote or footnote.

#2. Parenthetical citation

Here, the source reference is written in parentheses including the last name of the author, and the page number or date of publication.
 

#3. Numeric citation

It numbers numeric citation demands that your sources in the reference list and that you accurately use the numbers when you want to cite a source.

Citation Styles

One important thing to know when learning how to write a citation is knowing the right citation style to use that suits your discipline. Citation styles are laid down rules that show how to write a citation or how to cite sources in your project.

To keep your work original, you must cite the sources from which you got ideas and information.

These citation styles come with manuals that contain guidelines on how to apply them. The citation style you use is determined by the field or discipline for which you are writing.

For example, the APA style is used in the social sciences (like psychology or education), the MLA style is used in the humanities (like Languages or Literature). 

There are various citation styles but below are the dominant styles that are commonly used in journals and colleges.

#1. MLA Style

The Modern Language Association(MLA) style was created by the Modern Language Association and is commonly used in Literature and Language studies.

It uses the parenthetical type of citation where the author’s last name and page number or publication date are written in parentheses.

Here’s how to write a citation in MLA style.

MLA citation style example (in-text book citation)

  • The book uses the author’s lived experiences to show the evolutionary change in the world of business (Derrick Rose 33).

#2. APA style

The American Psychological Association (APA) style was developed by the American Psychological Association and is commonly used in social sciences like psychology or education.

However, it is now used by other disciplines. In the APA style, the author’s name and publication date are written in parentheses.

APA citation style example (in-text book citation)

Here’s how to write a citation in text

  • The book uses the author’s lived experiences to show the evolutionary change in the world of business (Derrick Rose, 2000, p. 33).

Note: There are different editions of the APA citation style manual but the example above is from the guidelines in the 7th edition manual. Do well to follow the guidelines of the edition given to you by your university.
 

#3. Chicago style

The Chicago Manual of Style created the Chicago style. There are two kinds of Chicago styles, Chicago A, and Chicago B.

In Chicago A style, the source is being cited in the endnote or footnote while in Chicago B style, the in-text citation is used, where the author’s name and publication date are written in parentheses.

Below is how to write a citation in text.

Chicago A citation style example (in-text book citation)

  • The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business.1

Chicago B citation style example (in-text book citation)

The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business (Derrick Rose, 2000, 33).

#4. Turabian style

There is not much difference between the Chicago style and the Turabian style, they are similar.

The Turabian citation style is divided into two, the author-date citation and the note citation. The author-date citation is popularly used in the social sciences discipline while it popularly used the note citation in the humanities discipline.

Below is an example of how to write a citation in the Turabian style.

See examples of how to write a citation in text using the Turabian style.

Turabian author-date citation style example (in-text book citation)

  • The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business (Derrick Rose, 2000, 33).

Turabian note citation style example (in-text book citation)

The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business 1.

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#4. Harvard style

Have you been pondering on how to write a citation in Harvard style? There is no authorized guideline to follow while using the Harvard style. Any organization can develop its guidelines for the Harvard style.

Meanwhile, the Harvard style is commonly used in the Economics discipline. Organizations like the British Standards Institution and the Australian Government Publishing Service have their guidelines for the Harvard citation style.

Note: In the Harvard style, the author’s name and publication date are written in parentheses.

Here’s an example of how to write a citation in the Harvard style.

Harvard citation style example (in-text book citation)

  • The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business (Derrick Rose, 2000, p. 33).

#5. Vancouver style

Popularly used in the field of medicine, the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors created the Vancouver citation style.

In Vancouver style, the sources are numbered in the reference list and the complete details of the source are written beside the number.

Then the numbers are accurately shown in the text when you want to cite a source.

Example of Vancouver citation style (book citation)

In-text citation

The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business (1)

Vancouver style reference list

  • Derrick Rose. Evolution in business: change in the world of business.
  • Los Angeles: New Times Press: 2000.

#6. OSCOLA style

The OSCOLA style is a citation style mostly used by those in the Law disciplines. In OSCOLA citation style, the source details are written in the footnote.

If you are in the Law discipline and looking for a citation style to use, then check the example below of how to write a citation using the OSCOLA style.

OSCOLA citation style example (book citation)

Here’s how to write a citation in text using the OSCOLA style
 

The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business.1

OSCOLA citation style (footnote)

  • Derrick Rose. Evolution in business: change in the world of business.
    (New Times Press, 2000).

#7. IEEE style

The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) uses the numeric type of citation.

Those in the electrical engineering and Information Technology field popularly used it.

IEEE citation style example (book citation)

In-text citation

The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business (1)

IEEE style reference list

  • Derrick Rose. Evolution in business: change in the world of business.
  • Los Angeles: New Times Press: 2000.

#8. AMA Style

Just like the Vancouver style, the AMA citation style is also used in the medical discipline.

Besides that, it uses the numeric type of citation where the page number is written in parentheses as a superscript and the number in the text is written as a superscript.

AMA citation style example (book example)

In-text citation

The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business.1(p4) 

#9. ACS style

The American Chemical Society (ACS) style is popularly used in chemistry disciplines.

There are three kinds of ACS style (in-text citation). The journal you are writing determines the style you will use.

  • ACS citation style example (book citation)
  • ACS footnote in-text citation
    The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business.1
  • ACS Author-date in-text citation
    The book uses the author’s lived experiences to show the evolutionary change in the world of business.
    (Derrick Rose, 2000)
  •  ACS numeric in-text citation
    The book uses the author’s lived experiences to show the evolutionary change in the world of business (1)

#10. NLM Style

Just like the Vancouver and AMA citation styles, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) style is used in medical papers.

This style uses the numeric type of citation. An example of how to write a citation using the NLM style is shown below.

NLM citation style example

  • The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business [1] 

#11. AAA Style

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) style is popularly used in social studies research papers.

Here, the author’s name and date of publication are written in parentheses. It was established from the Chicago citation style.

AAA citation style example (book citation)

  • In-text citation
    The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business (Derrick Rose, 2000, 33). 

#12. APSA Style

The American Political Science Review (APSA) is a citation style that is mostly used in the political science discipline. The U.S. government has laid out explicit regulations for papers that will be written in the APSA style.

Just like the AAA style, the author(s) name and publication date are written in parentheses.

APSA citation style example (book citation)

  • In-text citation
    The book uses the author’s lived experiences to demonstrate the evolutionary change in the world of business (Derrick Rose, 2000, 33).

How to Write a Citation | Step-by-Step Guide

If you are concerned about your academic integrity, citing sources in your academic writing and research papers should be of paramount importance to you.

So, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write a citation, just in case you don’t know how to write one.

#1. Choose a citation style

The first step in writing a citation is to choose a citation style. If you are writing an academic paper, you must inquire from your lecturer or supervisor about the citation style to use.

After that, do your research on Google or Bing to look for your style’s manual. You can use the manual from an online library or buy it online from Google or Bing.

#2. Write in-text citations

This is the second step on our list of how to write a citation. After researching your citation style’s manual, read the rules thoroughly and follow them up. Then write in-text citations.

#3. Find out the type of source

Continue by discovering the type of source you want to cite. Is it a webpage, book, journal, etc?

After figuring this out, then write the bibliographic citation that should be on the reference list.

#4. Know your style’s bibliographic rules

The bibliography citation should be written on the references or bibliography page.

Although, this is determined by the citation style you are using. A bibliography contains all the sources you used in doing your work, whether or not it was referenced.

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#5. Find out the suitable citation rules

From your style’s bibliographic citation rules, determine the one that suits the source for which you’ve written an in-text citation.

#6. Repeat the procedures for writing in-text citations

Organize the publication information in such a way that your bibliographic citation corresponds to the rules of your citation style.

Look to make sure that your in-text citation is evenly capitalized and well punctuated.

FAQs on How to Write a Citation

Who uses the Vancouver style?

The Vancouver style is popularly used in medicine. The Vancouver citation style was created by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

Who uses the MLA style?

The Modern Language Association(MLA) style was created by the Modern Language Association and is commonly used in Literature and Language studies.

What are the major components of a book citation?

The MLA, APA, and Chicago styles all have similar components in book citations. These components include the publication date, title, author(s) name, and the publisher’s name. In in-text citations, the page number is added. However, these components may vary depending on the edition of the style.

When should I cite sources?

You should cite sources in all research papers, academic writings, and essays that you write. Whenever you make quotations or get ideas from other sources in your text, you are expected to cite those sources.

When should I use “et al” in citations?

“Et al” is a Latin abbreviation for “and others” commonly used to lessen source citations with many authors.

Conclusion

Knowing how to write a citation is necessary for everyone who writes research papers or academic writings, especially college students.

Writing quotations and summarizing ideas or information from a source without citing them is theft of other people’s intellectual property and can be penalized.

Citing sources boosts your academic integrity and gives your work a sense of originality. 

References

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