How to cite other sources in your paper

Writing a college essay or term paper is an important task requiring great attention to detail. As you create this important document, you will be required to cite sources that you gathered information from, which is called citation. It is a formal reference to both published and unpublished sources you used while writing your research paper. Some students collect data from online sources, CD references and some may come from interviews. Your college paper will not be considered complete until you cite all the sources you used that in appropriate format [e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, etc.] because it shows that you are responsible scholar and are giving credit to other researchers by acknowledging their work. Note that some disciplines have their own citation method [e.g., law].

Why is citation important?

  1.  Proper citation enables your readers to trace the materials. Citation helps readers to expand their knowledge on a topic. The most helpful strategy for students to locate free online authoritative, appropriate sources like free papers online is to follow footnotes or references from known sources, which enables them to write eloquent essays and papers.
  2. The other researchers’ ideas could be used to explain alternative approaches. If your paper disagrees with source’s ideas, your citations can play a role of the source of free papers online that provides another scholarly approach to argue alternative viewpoint like a guide who helps you in writing essays and providing a hassle-free way to score better.
  3. Citing credible words and ideas signify that you have done thorough research on your essays and are presenting your paper from a well-versed and critically engaged standpoint. This enhances your credibility as an author.
  4. The ideas referred to in your paper are the intellectual property of others, and failure to cite them may have serious repercussion. If you do it deliberately it can even provoke legal actions, as professionally, not disclosing a source can ruin careers and reputations.

Citation in Different Formats

Your college professor may recommend one of the four widely-used referencing styles or conventions namely APA (American Psychological Association), Harvard, MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association), and MLA (Modern Languages Association).

Below is the brief description of how to cite your sources in these systems:

  1.  APA Style: is a variant on Harvard style where most of the conventions are same except author-date citations in brackets.

Example: (Website)

In the body: The National Autistic Society (2014)

In bibliography: The National Autistic Society (2014). Recognising autism spectrum disorder. It is retrieved from .

  1.  Harvard style: which is an author-date style where in-text citation can be in brackets in the body of the text or in footnotes.


In Body: (National Autistic Society, 2014)

In bibliography: National Autistic Society (2014) Recognising autism spectrum disorder, online at , accessed 23/07/14.

  1.  MHRA Style: you need to distinguish between citations for primary texts such as novels, poems from secondary ones like critical works and additional information.


This system does not use bracketed references instead uses numbers like this 1 in the body of an essay.

In notes: 1 David Kennedy, New Relations: The Refashioning of British Poetry 1980-1994. (Bridgend: Seren, 1996), p.26

In the body, 1st mention, primary text: (in a footnote) Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems, ed. by Thomas H. Johnson (London: Faber, 1970) p. 172.

In the body, further mentions, primary text: (in the body of text) (Dickinson, p.174) or (p.174)

In the body, 1st mention, secondary text: (in footnote) Brian Vickers, Francis Bacon and Renaissance Prose (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968) p. 49.

In the body, further mentions, secondary text: (in footnote) Vickers, p. 85.

In the bibliography, primary and secondary texts: Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems, ed. by Thomas H. Johnson (London: Faber, 1970).

  1.  MLA Style: has bracketed references in the body of the essay and full-length citations in the bibliography at the end of the essay.


In the body, (Kennedy, New Relations, 26)

In bibliography: Kennedy, David. New Relations: The Refashioning of British Poetry 1980-1994. Bridgend: Seren, 1996.

How to cite sources in your writing paper?

Regardless of the format, you are following, citations comprise standard elements and contain all necessary information to identify and quoted publication. It is important to know how to cite an article properly.  A standard bibliographical source needs to mention the below things:

  • Name(s) of the author
  • Titles of articles, books, and journals
  • Date of publication
  • Referred page numbers
  • Volume and issue numbers (for articles)

Incorporating quotations:

Depending on your essay you can either incorporate a direct quote, some part of the quote or modify some of it to fit in your paper. However, if you change original words, you are required to mention that too.  You could unintentionally alter the meaning of the quote and erroneously claim the author said something they actually did not.

How to quote within a quote:

If you want to embed a quotation within a quote, you have to switch from double quotation mark to single, e.g. “the samples have been defined ‘as best free online papers’ these days”.

Including long quotes:

Quotations comprising more than 40 words appear without quotation marks in the form of a free-standing block of lines. Quotation begins from a new line maintaining double-spacing throughout with entire quote indented five spaces from the left margin. The source is mentioned after the end of the quotation.

Including short quotes:

Introduce small quote with a signal phrase including the author’s last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses. Directly quoting from the work requires you to include the author, year, and page number for the reference (preceded by “p.”).

Adding footnotes:

They are the notes placed at the bottom of a page you usually have seen in books. However, it is advised not to use footnotes in a thesis or research paper. They give the additional information or cite a reference or comment on a specific part on the same page mostly. An asterisk or a number is added on the word to suggest that it has a footnote.

Adding endnotes:

They are the same as the footnotes as they carry the additional information or detail about some part of the text, but they appear at the end of the document that is why they are called endnotes.

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