How to ensure that you have a proper paper citation

Regardless of where you study — school, study, university — you, definitely, are given lots of assignments that you have to complete before the deadline. There are different factors that influence a grade given you by your tutor for your work, including the following:
  • Demonstrating an understanding of the topic;
  • Writing your paper in a clear and understood manner;
  • Structuring your academic paper properly;
  • Absence of grammar mistakes and errors;
  • Proper formatting your work, including using the required style, and others.

If there is something that does not match the requirements, your grade may be lower than you expected. There are lots of things that you should learn to write high-quality academic papers, and using academic styles and proper paper citation is one of them.

What is a citation?

First of all, you should have a clear understanding of what a citation is. A citation is a way to give credit to persons for their works that you use to support your research and ideas. A citation can include the following information:
  • The name of the author;
  • Date;
  • Location of the publishing company;
  • Journal title or Digital Object Identifier (DOI).

There are different citation styles that determine the data necessary for a citation and its order, punctuation, and others. In order to understand how citation looks like in text, you should check out samples that can be easily found on the Internet.

Why is proper citation important?

When you work under an academic paper, you should use different sources of information. Often, the number of sources that must be used is given students by their tutors. According to the existing rules, if you use someone’s words in your text, you should cite them properly. There are lots of requirements that you should learn, depending on the formatting style, the type of source, etc., but since you will be working with the same styles over and over again, you will be able to format your paper easier.

The following are some of the reasons why you should cite your work properly:
  • It is important because this is how you demonstrate the sources and authorities that your work is based on;
  • This protects you from being accused of plagiarism;
  • It makes it possible for your tutor to check your sources;
  • This demonstrates your ability to follow the given requirements and existing standards.

It is very important to make sure that your paper is unique and you cannot be accused of plagiarism. Let’s find out what it is. Plagiarism is considered using someone’s words and work and passing them off as your own ideas. It does not mean that you cannot use other’s people work, but you should give them credit by citing them properly.

You can either quote other authors or cite them by re-phasing their words, but it is essential to format these parts in your text properly. You should also avoid inserting too long quotes because this mostly looks like copy-paste when working and analyzing the sources. For instance, if you have to write a 2-page essay and 60 % of it are quotes from other authors, it is not very good, because you should demonstrate your understanding of the topic.

What types of academic styles should you know?

There are four main citation styles, including the following:
  • American Psychological Association (APA);
  • Modern Language Association (MLA);
  • Harvard;
  • Chicago.
You may not have to learn all of them because the style that you need to choose mainly depends on the discipline that you have to prepare your academic paper for. Please, check the following examples:
  • Harvard style is mainly used for formatting academic paper written on the following subjects: Economics, Environmental Studies, Chemistry, etc.
  • APA style is mainly used for formatting academic papers written on the following subjects: Medicine, Sociology, Psychology, etc.
  • MLA style is mainly used for formatting academic papers written on the following subjects: Cultural Studies, Literature, English Studies, etc.
  • Chicago style is mainly used for formatting academic papers written on the following subjects: Fine Arts, Business, History, etc.

A Harvard format is based on the Harvard style of writing that uses the author/date style within the text and a bibliography or reference list at the end of the paper or essay.

The first guidelines of APA format were published in 1929 in Psychological Bulletin. Later, they were expanded into the Publication Manual. Thanks to APA style, students and researchers can communicate information about their experiments and ideas in a consistent format.

MLA style provides guidelines for formatting the English language and manuscripts. It shows writers a system for referencing their sources of information through parenthetical citation in their academic papers.

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) includes different topics, including manuscript preparation, publication, documentation, grammar, usage, and more. There are two main documentation styles of CMOS, including the Notes-Bibliography System (NB) that is used by students working on academic writing in History, Literature, and the Arts. The other one is the author-date system, which is very similar to the first one with a few differences, and it is mainly used in the social sciences.

However, you should also keep in mind that there are also other styles used in the world, and that is why it is important to consult your tutor about academic formatting style each time before writing your academic paper. You should remember that your grade can be lowered if you fail match formatting style requirements.

How to ensure the proper citation in your paper?

It is very important to cite other people’s work in your paper if you use it, and it is also essential to do it correctly. That is why if you are given a task to prepare your paper in a certain format — let’s say in APA— you should dedicate some time to learning everything about this style.

There are many rules that you will have to follow, and unless you are genius with brilliant memory, you will not be able to memorize all of these requirements right away. That is why it is important to find a clear and understood source of information explaining you all of the needed details and keep it in front of your eyes so that you can have a look at this every time you need it.
Also, you should obtain good samples, demonstrating how a certain academic formatting style is used in academic writing.

Since we live in the world with developed technologies, you can take advantage of it. There are many websites offering you automatic citing services. There is little that you have to do really because you just need to fill out an online form with the required information and get your citation that you can simply insert into your text. It is a very effective, quick and easy way to cite other people’s works.

However, before you use these services, you should really make sure that they convert your information correctly, and that is why you should have some knowledge about the academic formatting styles and the differences between them.

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