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How to Cite Sources

Here is a complete list for how to cite sources. Most of these guides present citation guidance and examples in MLA, APA, and Chicago.

If you’re looking for general information on MLA or APA citations , the EasyBib Writing Center was designed for you! It has articles on what’s needed in an MLA in-text citation , how to format an APA paper, what an MLA annotated bibliography is, making an MLA works cited page, and much more!

MLA Format Citation Examples

The Modern Language Association created the MLA Style, currently in its 9th edition, to provide researchers with guidelines for writing and documenting scholarly borrowings.  Most often used in the humanities, MLA style (or MLA format ) has been adopted and used by numerous other disciplines, in multiple parts of the world.

MLA provides standard rules to follow so that most research papers are formatted in a similar manner. This makes it easier for readers to comprehend the information. The MLA in-text citation guidelines, MLA works cited standards, and MLA annotated bibliography instructions provide scholars with the information they need to properly cite sources in their research papers, articles, and assignments.

  • Book Chapter
  • Conference Paper
  • Documentary
  • Encyclopedia
  • Google Images
  • Kindle Book
  • Memorial Inscription
  • Museum Exhibit
  • Painting or Artwork
  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Sheet Music
  • Thesis or Dissertation
  • YouTube Video

APA Format Citation Examples

The American Psychological Association created the APA citation style in 1929 as a way to help psychologists, anthropologists, and even business managers establish one common way to cite sources and present content.

APA is used when citing sources for academic articles such as journals, and is intended to help readers better comprehend content, and to avoid language bias wherever possible. The APA style (or APA format ) is now in its 7th edition, and provides citation style guides for virtually any type of resource.

Chicago Style Citation Examples

The Chicago/Turabian style of citing sources is generally used when citing sources for humanities papers, and is best known for its requirement that writers place bibliographic citations at the bottom of a page (in Chicago-format footnotes ) or at the end of a paper (endnotes).

The Turabian and Chicago citation styles are almost identical, but the Turabian style is geared towards student published papers such as theses and dissertations, while the Chicago style provides guidelines for all types of publications. This is why you’ll commonly see Chicago style and Turabian style presented together. The Chicago Manual of Style is currently in its 17th edition, and Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations is in its 8th edition.

Citing Specific Sources or Events

  • Declaration of Independence
  • Gettysburg Address
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Speech
  • President Obama’s Farewell Address
  • President Trump’s Inauguration Speech
  • White House Press Briefing

Additional FAQs

  • Citing Archived Contributors
  • Citing a Blog
  • Citing a Book Chapter
  • Citing a Source in a Foreign Language
  • Citing an Image
  • Citing a Song
  • Citing Special Contributors
  • Citing a Translated Article
  • Citing a Tweet

6 Interesting Citation Facts

The world of citations may seem cut and dry, but there’s more to them than just specific capitalization rules, MLA in-text citations , and other formatting specifications. Citations have been helping researches document their sources for hundreds of years, and are a great way to learn more about a particular subject area.

Ever wonder what sets all the different styles apart, or how they came to be in the first place? Read on for some interesting facts about citations!

1. There are Over 7,000 Different Citation Styles

You may be familiar with MLA and APA citation styles, but there are actually thousands of citation styles used for all different academic disciplines all across the world. Deciding which one to use can be difficult, so be sure to ask you instructor which one you should be using for your next paper.

2. Some Citation Styles are Named After People

While a majority of citation styles are named for the specific organizations that publish them (i.e. APA is published by the American Psychological Association, and MLA format is named for the Modern Language Association), some are actually named after individuals. The most well-known example of this is perhaps Turabian style, named for Kate L. Turabian, an American educator and writer. She developed this style as a condensed version of the Chicago Manual of Style in order to present a more concise set of rules to students.

3. There are Some Really Specific and Uniquely Named Citation Styles

How specific can citation styles get? The answer is very. For example, the “Flavour and Fragrance Journal” style is based on a bimonthly, peer-reviewed scientific journal published since 1985 by John Wiley & Sons. It publishes original research articles, reviews and special reports on all aspects of flavor and fragrance. Another example is “Nordic Pulp and Paper Research,” a style used by an international scientific magazine covering science and technology for the areas of wood or bio-mass constituents.

4. More citations were created on  EasyBib.com  in the first quarter of 2018 than there are people in California.

The US Census Bureau estimates that approximately 39.5 million people live in the state of California. Meanwhile, about 43 million citations were made on EasyBib from January to March of 2018. That’s a lot of citations.

5. “Citations” is a Word With a Long History

The word “citations” can be traced back literally thousands of years to the Latin word “citare” meaning “to summon, urge, call; put in sudden motion, call forward; rouse, excite.” The word then took on its more modern meaning and relevance to writing papers in the 1600s, where it became known as the “act of citing or quoting a passage from a book, etc.”

6. Citation Styles are Always Changing

The concept of citations always stays the same. It is a means of preventing plagiarism and demonstrating where you relied on outside sources. The specific style rules, however, can and do change regularly. For example, in 2018 alone, 46 new citation styles were introduced , and 106 updates were made to exiting styles. At EasyBib, we are always on the lookout for ways to improve our styles and opportunities to add new ones to our list.

Why Citations Matter

Here are the ways accurate citations can help your students achieve academic success, and how you can answer the dreaded question, “why should I cite my sources?”

They Give Credit to the Right People

Citing their sources makes sure that the reader can differentiate the student’s original thoughts from those of other researchers. Not only does this make sure that the sources they use receive proper credit for their work, it ensures that the student receives deserved recognition for their unique contributions to the topic. Whether the student is citing in MLA format , APA format , or any other style, citations serve as a natural way to place a student’s work in the broader context of the subject area, and serve as an easy way to gauge their commitment to the project.

They Provide Hard Evidence of Ideas

Having many citations from a wide variety of sources related to their idea means that the student is working on a well-researched and respected subject. Citing sources that back up their claim creates room for fact-checking and further research . And, if they can cite a few sources that have the converse opinion or idea, and then demonstrate to the reader why they believe that that viewpoint is wrong by again citing credible sources, the student is well on their way to winning over the reader and cementing their point of view.

They Promote Originality and Prevent Plagiarism

The point of research projects is not to regurgitate information that can already be found elsewhere. We have Google for that! What the student’s project should aim to do is promote an original idea or a spin on an existing idea, and use reliable sources to promote that idea. Copying or directly referencing a source without proper citation can lead to not only a poor grade, but accusations of academic dishonesty. By citing their sources regularly and accurately, students can easily avoid the trap of plagiarism , and promote further research on their topic.

They Create Better Researchers

By researching sources to back up and promote their ideas, students are becoming better researchers without even knowing it! Each time a new source is read or researched, the student is becoming more engaged with the project and is developing a deeper understanding of the subject area. Proper citations demonstrate a breadth of the student’s reading and dedication to the project itself. By creating citations, students are compelled to make connections between their sources and discern research patterns. Each time they complete this process, they are helping themselves become better researchers and writers overall.

When is the Right Time to Start Making Citations?

Make in-text/parenthetical citations as you need them.

As you are writing your paper, be sure to include references within the text that correspond with references in a works cited or bibliography. These are usually called in-text citations or parenthetical citations in MLA and APA formats. The most effective time to complete these is directly after you have made your reference to another source. For instance, after writing the line from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities : “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…,” you would include a citation like this (depending on your chosen citation style):

(Dickens 11).

This signals to the reader that you have referenced an outside source. What’s great about this system is that the in-text citations serve as a natural list for all of the citations you have made in your paper, which will make completing the works cited page a whole lot easier. After you are done writing, all that will be left for you to do is scan your paper for these references, and then build a works cited page that includes a citation for each one.

Need help creating an MLA works cited page ? Try the MLA format generator on EasyBib.com! We also have a guide on how to format an APA reference page .

2. Understand the General Formatting Rules of Your Citation Style Before You Start Writing

While reading up on paper formatting may not sound exciting, being aware of how your paper should look early on in the paper writing process is super important. Citation styles can dictate more than just the appearance of the citations themselves, but rather can impact the layout of your paper as a whole, with specific guidelines concerning margin width, title treatment, and even font size and spacing. Knowing how to organize your paper before you start writing will ensure that you do not receive a low grade for something as trivial as forgetting a hanging indent.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s a formatting guide on APA format .

3. Double-check All of Your Outside Sources for Relevance and Trustworthiness First

Collecting outside sources that support your research and specific topic is a critical step in writing an effective paper. But before you run to the library and grab the first 20 books you can lay your hands on, keep in mind that selecting a source to include in your paper should not be taken lightly. Before you proceed with using it to backup your ideas, run a quick Internet search for it and see if other scholars in your field have written about it as well. Check to see if there are book reviews about it or peer accolades. If you spot something that seems off to you, you may want to consider leaving it out of your work. Doing this before your start making citations can save you a ton of time in the long run.

Finished with your paper? It may be time to run it through a grammar and plagiarism checker , like the one offered by EasyBib Plus. If you’re just looking to brush up on the basics, our grammar guides  are ready anytime you are.

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Using In-text Citation

Include an in-text citation when you refer to, summarize, paraphrase, or quote from another source. For every in-text citation in your paper, there must be a corresponding entry in your reference list.

APA in-text citation style uses the author's last name and the year of publication, for example: (Field, 2005). For direct quotations, include the page number as well, for example: (Field, 2005, p. 14). For sources such as websites and e-books that have no page numbers , use a paragraph number, for example: (Field, 2005, para. 1). More information on direct quotation of sources without pagination is given on the APA Style and Grammar Guidelines web page.

Example paragraph with in-text citation

A few researchers in the linguistics field have developed training programs designed to improve native speakers' ability to understand accented speech (Derwing et al., 2002; Thomas, 2004). Their training techniques are based on the research described above indicating that comprehension improves with exposure to non-native speech.   Derwing et al. (2002) conducted their training with students preparing to be social workers, but note that other professionals who work with non-native speakers could benefit from a similar program.

Derwing, T. M., Rossiter, M. J., & Munro, M. J. (2002). Teaching native speakers to listen to foreign-accented speech.  Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development , 23 (4), 245-259.

Thomas, H. K. (2004).  Training strategies for improving listeners' comprehension of foreign-accented speech  (Doctoral dissertation). University of Colorado, Boulder.

Citing Web Pages In Text

Cite web pages in text as you would any other source, using the author and date if known. Keep in mind that the author may be an organization rather than a person. For sources with no author, use the title in place of an author.

For sources with no date use n.d. (for no date) in place of the year: (Smith, n.d.). For more information on citations for sources with no date or other missing information see the page on missing reference information on the APA Style and Grammar Guidelines web page. 

Below are examples of using in-text citation with web pages.

Web page with author:

In-text citation

Heavy social media use can be linked to depression and other mental disorders in teens (Asmelash, 2019).

Reference entry

Asmelash, L. (2019, August 14). Social media use may harm teens' mental health by disrupting positive activities, study says . CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/health/social-media-mental-health-trnd/index.html

Web page with organizational author:

More than 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression (World Health Organization, 2018).

World Health Organization. (2018, March 22).  Depression . https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

Web page with no date:

Establishing regular routines, such as exercise, can help survivors of disasters recover from trauma (American Psychological Association [APA], n.d.).

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Recovering emotionally from disaste r. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/recovering-disasters.aspx

General Guidelines

In-text references should immediately follow the title, word, or phrase to which they are directly relevant, rather than appearing at the end of long clauses or sentences. In-text references should always precede punctuation marks. Below are examples of using in-text citation.

Author's name in parentheses:

One study found that the most important element in comprehending non-native speech is familiarity with the topic (Gass & Varonis, 1984).

Author's name part of narrative:

Gass and Varonis (1984) found that the most important element in comprehending non-native speech is familiarity with the topic.

Group as author: First citation: (American Psychological Association [APA], 2015) Subsequent citation: (APA, 2015)

Multiple works: (separate each work with semi-colons)

Research shows that listening to a particular accent improves comprehension of accented speech in general (Gass & Varonis, 1984; Krech Thomas, 2004).

Direct quote: (include page number and place quotation marks around the direct quote)

One study found that “the listener's familiarity with the topic of discourse greatly facilitates the interpretation of the entire message” (Gass & Varonis, 1984, p. 85).

Gass and Varonis (1984) found that “the listener’s familiarity with the topic of discourse greatly facilitates the interpretation of the entire message” (p. 85).

Note:  For direct quotations of more than 40 words , display the quote as an indented block of text without quotation marks and include the authors’ names, year, and page number in parentheses at the end of the quote. For example:

This suggests that familiarity with nonnative speech in general, although it is clearly not as important a variable as topic familiarity, may indeed have some effect. That is, prior experience with nonnative speech, such as that gained by listening to the reading, facilitates comprehension. (Gass & Varonis, 1984, p. 77)

Works by Multiple Authors

APA style has specific rules for citing works by multiple authors. Use the following guidelines to determine how to correctly cite works by multiple authors in text. For more information on citing works by multiple authors see the APA Style and Grammar Guidelines page on in-text citation .

Note: When using multiple authors' names as part of your narrative, rather than in parentheses, always spell out the word and. For multiple authors' names within a parenthetic citation, use &.

One author: (Field, 2005)

Two authors: (Gass & Varonis, 1984)

Three or more authors:   (Tremblay et al., 2010)

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A Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing | Citation Examples

Published on 14 February 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on 15 September 2023.

Referencing is an important part of academic writing. It tells your readers what sources you’ve used and how to find them.

Harvard is the most common referencing style used in UK universities. In Harvard style, the author and year are cited in-text, and full details of the source are given in a reference list .

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Table of contents

Harvard in-text citation, creating a harvard reference list, harvard referencing examples, referencing sources with no author or date, frequently asked questions about harvard referencing.

A Harvard in-text citation appears in brackets beside any quotation or paraphrase of a source. It gives the last name of the author(s) and the year of publication, as well as a page number or range locating the passage referenced, if applicable:

Note that ‘p.’ is used for a single page, ‘pp.’ for multiple pages (e.g. ‘pp. 1–5’).

An in-text citation usually appears immediately after the quotation or paraphrase in question. It may also appear at the end of the relevant sentence, as long as it’s clear what it refers to.

When your sentence already mentions the name of the author, it should not be repeated in the citation:

Sources with multiple authors

When you cite a source with up to three authors, cite all authors’ names. For four or more authors, list only the first name, followed by ‘ et al. ’:

Sources with no page numbers

Some sources, such as websites , often don’t have page numbers. If the source is a short text, you can simply leave out the page number. With longer sources, you can use an alternate locator such as a subheading or paragraph number if you need to specify where to find the quote:

Multiple citations at the same point

When you need multiple citations to appear at the same point in your text – for example, when you refer to several sources with one phrase – you can present them in the same set of brackets, separated by semicolons. List them in order of publication date:

Multiple sources with the same author and date

If you cite multiple sources by the same author which were published in the same year, it’s important to distinguish between them in your citations. To do this, insert an ‘a’ after the year in the first one you reference, a ‘b’ in the second, and so on:

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A bibliography or reference list appears at the end of your text. It lists all your sources in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, giving complete information so that the reader can look them up if necessary.

The reference entry starts with the author’s last name followed by initial(s). Only the first word of the title is capitalised (as well as any proper nouns).

Harvard reference list example

Sources with multiple authors in the reference list

As with in-text citations, up to three authors should be listed; when there are four or more, list only the first author followed by ‘ et al. ’:

Reference list entries vary according to source type, since different information is relevant for different sources. Formats and examples for the most commonly used source types are given below.

  • Entire book
  • Book chapter
  • Translated book
  • Edition of a book

Journal articles

  • Print journal
  • Online-only journal with DOI
  • Online-only journal with no DOI
  • General web page
  • Online article or blog
  • Social media post

Sometimes you won’t have all the information you need for a reference. This section covers what to do when a source lacks a publication date or named author.

No publication date

When a source doesn’t have a clear publication date – for example, a constantly updated reference source like Wikipedia or an obscure historical document which can’t be accurately dated – you can replace it with the words ‘no date’:

Note that when you do this with an online source, you should still include an access date, as in the example.

When a source lacks a clearly identified author, there’s often an appropriate corporate source – the organisation responsible for the source – whom you can credit as author instead, as in the Google and Wikipedia examples above.

When that’s not the case, you can just replace it with the title of the source in both the in-text citation and the reference list:

Harvard referencing uses an author–date system. Sources are cited by the author’s last name and the publication year in brackets. Each Harvard in-text citation corresponds to an entry in the alphabetised reference list at the end of the paper.

Vancouver referencing uses a numerical system. Sources are cited by a number in parentheses or superscript. Each number corresponds to a full reference at the end of the paper.

A Harvard in-text citation should appear in brackets every time you quote, paraphrase, or refer to information from a source.

The citation can appear immediately after the quotation or paraphrase, or at the end of the sentence. If you’re quoting, place the citation outside of the quotation marks but before any other punctuation like a comma or full stop.

In Harvard referencing, up to three author names are included in an in-text citation or reference list entry. When there are four or more authors, include only the first, followed by ‘ et al. ’

Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference in meaning:

  • A reference list only includes sources cited in the text – every entry corresponds to an in-text citation .
  • A bibliography also includes other sources which were consulted during the research but not cited.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2023, September 15). A Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing | Citation Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 9 April 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/referencing/harvard-style/

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🤔 What is an APA Citation Generator?

An APA citation generator is a software tool that will automatically format academic citations in the American Psychological Association (APA) style.

It will usually request vital details about a source -- like the authors, title, and publish date -- and will output these details with the correct punctuation and layout required by the official APA style guide.

Formatted citations created by a generator can be copied into the bibliography of an academic paper as a way to give credit to the sources referenced in the main body of the paper.

👩‍🎓 Who uses an APA Citation Generator?

College-level and post-graduate students are most likely to use an APA citation generator, because APA style is the most favored style at these learning levels. Before college, in middle and high school, MLA style is more likely to be used. In other parts of the world styles such as Harvard (UK and Australia) and DIN 1505 (Europe) are used more often.

🙌 Why should I use a Citation Generator?

Like almost every other citation style, APA style can be cryptic and hard to understand when formatting citations. Citations can take an unreasonable amount of time to format manually, and it is easy to accidentally include errors. By using a citation generator to do this work you will:

  • Save a considerable amount of time
  • Ensure that your citations are consistent and formatted correctly
  • Be rewarded with a higher grade

In academia, bibliographies are graded on their accuracy against the official APA rulebook, so it is important for students to ensure their citations are formatted correctly. Special attention should also be given to ensure the entire document (including main body) is structured according to the APA guidelines. Our complete APA format guide has everything you need know to make sure you get it right (including examples and diagrams).

⚙️ How do I use MyBib's APA Citation Generator?

Our APA generator was built with a focus on simplicity and speed. To generate a formatted reference list or bibliography just follow these steps:

  • Start by searching for the source you want to cite in the search box at the top of the page.
  • MyBib will automatically locate all the required information. If any is missing you can add it yourself.
  • Your citation will be generated correctly with the information provided and added to your bibliography.
  • Repeat for each citation, then download the formatted list and append it to the end of your paper.

MyBib supports the following for APA style:

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Conference papers

Paper submission instructions for i3ce 2024.

To submit a paper, simply update the submission you have registered through the Microsoft CMT site used for submitting abstracts and include the full paper as a PDF.

Each paper will receive a minimum of two (2) reviews. We are looking forward to receiving your submission by February 4th, 2024 at 11:59pm EST .

Formatting guidelines

To be considered for review, papers must follow the formatting guidelines set forth by the ASCE . For your convenience, a Microsoft Word template is available .

Technical tracks & paper options

Though the abstract submission allowed you to select general topic areas, we now have specific technical tracks that you can choose from when submitting your final paper. Please make sure to update your selection when submitting the final paper.

This year, we are accepting two kinds of papers: short papers and full papers.

SHORT PAPERS

  • Expected to be 5 pages in length, including references (required) .
  • Should describe nascent and/or preliminary research in a new direction.

FULL PAPERS

  • Expected to be no more than 10 pages in length, including references (required) .
  • Should describe more mature research results.

Both paper types will be provided a DOI, indexed, and included in the proceedings of the conference. However, they will have different presentation times. 

Call for Papers Closed

Accepted papers.

Please note : Each accepted paper will require a unique full registration to be published and presented at the conference. Any paper that does not have a unique full registration associated with it will not be included in the proceedings.

Important Dates

  • Dec 1 Abstracts submission deadline
  • Feb 4 FINAL EXTENSION - Full technical papers submission deadline
  • Apr 12 Full technical papers acceptance
  • May 17 Paper and copyright form submission deadline
  • Jun 1 Early registration deadline
  • Jun 15 Registration deadline to include papers in proceedings
  • Jul 28 - Jul 31 Conference

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MLA Style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and citing research in writing. MLA Style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages. 

Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental uncredited use of source material produced by other writers. 

If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the  MLA Handbook  (9th edition). Publishing scholars and graduate students should also consult the  MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing  (3rd edition). The  MLA Handbook  is available in most writing centers and reference libraries. It is also widely available in bookstores, libraries, and at the MLA web site. See the Additional Resources section of this page for a list of helpful books and sites about using MLA Style.

Paper Format

The preparation of papers and manuscripts in MLA Style is covered in part four of the  MLA Style Manual . Below are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in  MLA Style :

General Guidelines

  • Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • Double-space the text of your paper and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are each distinct from one another. The font size should be 12 pt.
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise prompted by your instructor).
  • Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the “Tab” key as opposed to pushing the space bar five times.
  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
  • Use italics throughout your essay to indicate the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, provide emphasis.
  • If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).

Formatting the First Page of Your Paper

  • Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested or the paper is assigned as a group project. In the case of a group project, list all names of the contributors, giving each name its own line in the header, followed by the remaining MLA header requirements as described below. Format the remainder of the page as requested by the instructor.
  • In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
  • Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks. Write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
  • Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text. For example:  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  as Morality Play; Human Weariness in "After Apple Picking"
  • Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
  • Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number. Number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit the last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)

Here is a sample of the first page of a paper in MLA style:

This image shows the first page of an MLA paper.

The First Page of an MLA Paper

Section Headings

Writers sometimes use section headings to improve a document’s readability. These sections may include individual chapters or other named parts of a book or essay.

MLA recommends that when dividing an essay into sections you number those sections with an Arabic number and a period followed by a space and the section name.

MLA does not have a prescribed system of headings for books (for more information on headings, please see page 146 in the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing , 3rd edition). If you are only using one level of headings, meaning that all of the sections are distinct and parallel and have no additional sections that fit within them, MLA recommends that these sections resemble one another grammatically. For instance, if your headings are typically short phrases, make all of the headings short phrases (and not, for example, full sentences). Otherwise, the formatting is up to you. It should, however, be consistent throughout the document.

If you employ multiple levels of headings (some of your sections have sections within sections), you may want to provide a key of your chosen level headings and their formatting to your instructor or editor.

Sample Section Headings

The following sample headings are meant to be used only as a reference. You may employ whatever system of formatting that works best for you so long as it remains consistent throughout the document.

Formatted, unnumbered:

Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left

Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left

Level 3 Heading: centered, bold

Level 4 Heading: centered, italics

Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left

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  • How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples

Published on April 8, 2022 by Courtney Gahan and Jack Caulfield. Revised on June 1, 2023.

Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning.

Paraphrasing is an alternative to  quoting (copying someone’s exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it’s usually better to integrate sources by paraphrasing instead of quoting. It shows that you have understood the source, reads more smoothly, and keeps your own voice front and center.

Every time you paraphrase, it’s important to cite the source . Also take care not to use wording that is too similar to the original. Otherwise, you could be at risk of committing plagiarism .

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Table of contents

How to paraphrase in five easy steps, how to paraphrase correctly, examples of paraphrasing, how to cite a paraphrase, paraphrasing vs. quoting, paraphrasing vs. summarizing, avoiding plagiarism when you paraphrase, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about paraphrasing.

If you’re struggling to get to grips with the process of paraphrasing, check out our easy step-by-step guide in the video below.

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Putting an idea into your own words can be easier said than done. Let’s say you want to paraphrase the text below, about population decline in a particular species of sea snails.

Incorrect paraphrasing

You might make a first attempt to paraphrase it by swapping out a few words for  synonyms .

Like other sea creatures inhabiting the vicinity of highly populated coasts, horse conchs have lost substantial territory to advancement and contamination , including preferred breeding grounds along mud flats and seagrass beds. Their Gulf home is also heating up due to global warming , which scientists think further puts pressure on the creatures , predicated upon the harmful effects extra warmth has on other large mollusks (Barnett, 2022).

This attempt at paraphrasing doesn’t change the sentence structure or order of information, only some of the word choices. And the synonyms chosen are poor:

  • “Advancement and contamination” doesn’t really convey the same meaning as “development and pollution.”
  • Sometimes the changes make the tone less academic: “home” for “habitat” and “sea creatures” for “marine animals.”
  • Adding phrases like “inhabiting the vicinity of” and “puts pressure on” makes the text needlessly long-winded.
  • Global warming is related to climate change, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing.

Because of this, the text reads awkwardly, is longer than it needs to be, and remains too close to the original phrasing. This means you risk being accused of plagiarism .

Correct paraphrasing

Let’s look at a more effective way of paraphrasing the same text.

Here, we’ve:

  • Only included the information that’s relevant to our argument (note that the paraphrase is shorter than the original)
  • Introduced the information with the signal phrase “Scientists believe that …”
  • Retained key terms like “development and pollution,” since changing them could alter the meaning
  • Structured sentences in our own way instead of copying the structure of the original
  • Started from a different point, presenting information in a different order

Because of this, we’re able to clearly convey the relevant information from the source without sticking too close to the original phrasing.

Explore the tabs below to see examples of paraphrasing in action.

  • Journal article
  • Newspaper article
  • Magazine article

Once you have your perfectly paraphrased text, you need to ensure you credit the original author. You’ll always paraphrase sources in the same way, but you’ll have to use a different type of in-text citation depending on what citation style you follow.

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citation page in essay

It’s a good idea to paraphrase instead of quoting in most cases because:

  • Paraphrasing shows that you fully understand the meaning of a text
  • Your own voice remains dominant throughout your paper
  • Quotes reduce the readability of your text

But that doesn’t mean you should never quote. Quotes are appropriate when:

  • Giving a precise definition
  • Saying something about the author’s language or style (e.g., in a literary analysis paper)
  • Providing evidence in support of an argument
  • Critiquing or analyzing a specific claim

A paraphrase puts a specific passage into your own words. It’s typically a similar length to the original text, or slightly shorter.

When you boil a longer piece of writing down to the key points, so that the result is a lot shorter than the original, this is called summarizing .

Paraphrasing and quoting are important tools for presenting specific information from sources. But if the information you want to include is more general (e.g., the overarching argument of a whole article), summarizing is more appropriate.

When paraphrasing, you have to be careful to avoid accidental plagiarism .

This can happen if the paraphrase is too similar to the original quote, with phrases or whole sentences that are identical (and should therefore be in quotation marks). It can also happen if you fail to properly cite the source.

Paraphrasing tools are widely used by students, and can be especially useful for non-native speakers who may find academic writing particularly challenging. While these can be helpful for a bit of extra inspiration, use these tools sparingly, keeping academic integrity in mind.

To make sure you’ve properly paraphrased and cited all your sources, you could elect to run a plagiarism check before submitting your paper. And of course, always be sure to read your source material yourself and take the first stab at paraphrasing on your own.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Critical thinking

 Plagiarism

  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:

  • Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive , or start from a different point)
  • Combining information from multiple sentences into one
  • Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
  • Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning

The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.

Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.

However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly cite the source . This means including an in-text citation and a full reference, formatted according to your required citation style .

As well as citing, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.

Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas in your own words.

So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?

  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
  • Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
  • Paraphrasing  is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely in your own words and properly cite the source .

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To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.

It’s appropriate to quote when:

  • Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
  • You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
  • You’re presenting a precise definition
  • You’re looking in depth at a specific claim

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Gahan, C. & Caulfield, J. (2023, June 01). How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved April 9, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/working-with-sources/how-to-paraphrase/

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