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Valencia Reader - ENC1102: How do I cite sources?

Entering the Converstation

Visual depiction of the research process with step 5, How do I cite sources?, highlighted.

We’ve come full circle. You found the scholarly conversation on your topic and chose the best sources. Now it’s time to organize and write your paper or presentation, which is entering the scholarly conversation yourself.

When entering the conversation, it’s important to acknowledge the voices that have gone before and how they influence your own analysis. In academic writing, this is done through citations. Just like the scholars we saw in Where do I start? cite each other in their literary criticism to engage in the conversation, you will need to formally cite your sources as well. This is ethical use of information and builds your credibility and subject expertise as an author.

As you write, you may find you need to return to other parts of the research process. For example, you may find you need another source to back up an argument you’re making or that you’re missing an important part of the background for your interpretation. Or, the perspective of a new author may change your mind. That’s completely normal. Research isn’t linear, and it can often be messy.

How do I cite using MLA?

Why Cite?

There are several reasons why crediting sources is necessary in academic writing. First, it shows the reader that the author has researched the background of the problem and is able to discuss previous research. Secondly, it gives credit to past researchers whose research has added to the body of knowledge on the topic. 


When to Cite?

Work should be cited if the work, ideas, theories, or research have influenced the current author's work.  This also shows the current author has read the work.


1. Author 2. Title of Source 3. Title of Container
4. Other Contributors 5. Version 6. Number
7. Publisher 8. Publication Date 9. Location

Not all elements will necessarily be present in each citation you create. Also, it is possible that elements 3 through 9 might appear more than once. Each source will be slightly different, but the general format for each will resemble the examples in the template below.


Electronic Articles


Example 1: Electronic Article from a Database

Author, First and Second Author. Title of Article. Title of the Journal in Italics, volume, issue, publication date, page numbers. database name, doi:(or Access date. 

Rauer, Amy, and Brenda Volling.“More Than One Way to be Happy: A Typology of Marital Happiness.” Family Process, vol.52, no.3, 2013, pp. 519-534. Academic Search Complete, doi:10.1111/famp.12028. Accessed 13 Apr. 2018. 

Example 2: Electronic Article without DOI

Author, First. Title of Article. Title of the Journal in Italics, volume, issue, publication date, page numbers, database name, article's stable URL. Access date. 

Pollard, Stephen.“Mathematics and the Good Life.” Philosophia Mathematica, vol. 21, no. 1, Feb. 2013, pp. 93-109, Academic Search Complete, Accessed 6 Aug. 2018. 

Print Articles


Author, First. Title of Article. Title of the Journal in Italics, volume, issue, publication date, page numbers. 

Verschoor, Curtis C. "How Colleges Hide Investments to Avoid Taxes: Should Universities Use Tax Haven Corporations?" Strategic Finance, vol. 99, no. 9. Mar. 2018, pp. 21-22. 



Example 1: Book by a single author

Author, First.Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date. 

Brettell, Caroline. Anthropological Conversations: Talking Culture Across Disciplines. Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. 

Example 2: Book by two authors

Author, First and Second Author.Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date

Berger, Kathleen S. and Ross A. Thompson. The Developing Person Through Childhood. Worth Publishers, 2003. 

Example 3: Books with three or more authors

Author, First, et. al. (Year). Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date

Verdier, Thierry, et al. The Organization of Firms in a Global Economy. Harvard UP, 2008. 

Example 4: Electronic book (eBook) from a library database

Author, First.Title of Book. Database name, Publisher, Publication Date

Arthur, Charles. Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the Battle for the Internet. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost),
     Kogan Page, 2012. 


Any time you quote or paraphrase from a source within the text of your project, you must give credit to the source by using an in-text citation. 

The general format is to include the author(s) name(s) and the page number or numbers of the quoted/paraphrased passage: 

(Pollard 102)

(Arthur 133-134) 

(Verdier et al. 228-230) 

If there are no page numbers, like in the example of a website, you would simply only include the author(s) name: 



For further help with citation questions and examples, consult some of the guides listed below or AskALibrarian:

How do I quote, paraphrase, or summarize a source?

tipsIn literary analysis, broader points are often made using summary or paraphrase followed by direct quotes as evidence for the broader interpretation made in the summary/paraphrase.
A summary takes a large chunk of content and condenses it into a small form. Use this technique when you are talking about broad aspects of a whole work, chapter, or character:
Hamlet is either pretending to be mad to drive forward his revenge or has truly lost his mind in pursuit of revenge; even he seems unsure at times throughout the play (Shakespeare).
A paraphrase puts a specific line or section in your own words. Use this technique on smaller chunks of a work when the author's exact words are not important to your analysis:
In his famous soliloquy opening Act 3, Hamlet talks about the conflict in his mind between continuing and dying (Shakespeare, act 3, scene 1).
Direct Quote

A direct quote expresses the idea EXACTLY the way the author did. Use this technique when the way the author expresses the words is central to your analysis or point:

Hamlet's proclamation, “To be, or not to be," is arguably the most famous line of Shakespeare's works, but it takes reading further into the soliloquy's metaphors to truly understand the meaning (Shakespeare, act 3, scene 1, line 1). Soon after this famous line Hamlet expounds, "Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;" comparing sleep to death and giving us the first hint that Hamlet is considering whether it is better to live or die. (Shakespeare, 3.1.4-5).
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