"In research writing, sources are cited for two reasons: to alert readers to the sources of your information and to give credit to the writers from whom you have borrowed words and ideas." --Diana Hacker, A Writer's Reference

A full citation generally consistes of two parts; a list of sources at the end of a paper or project and short, in-text references to let the reader know which source was used for a specific fact. A good citation includes enough information to identify a source and find it again. The most basic information included in a citation is:
  • Author
  • Title
  • Date
However, each type of source (book, magazine, website, interview) has its own unique rules, and it is important to check what should be included, and in what format, in each citation. Generating citations can be tricky, but there are many resources out there to help you. Two of the most popular are BibMe and the Citation Machine. These will both help you by guiding you through the process of creating and formatting a citation.

Additional help may be found at the Perdue Online Writing Lab, BibMe's Help page, or by asking the librarian.

Sample Citations (in MLA Format)


AuthorLastname, AuthorFirstname. Book Title. Publication City: Publishing Company, Year Published.
Maculay, David. The New Way Things Work. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Magazine or Newspaper

AuthorLastname, AuthorFirstname. "Article Title." Magazine or Newspaper Title Date Month Year: Page Numbers Inclusive.
Kavanaugh, Jennifer. "Drawing Pictures of the Future." Springfield Republican 6 Dec. 2000: 7.

Website - General

AuthorLastname, Author Firstname. Page title. Date Published or revised Mmm. yyyyif known.
Organization associated with the site (if given). Date retrieved dd Mmm. yyyy <URL>.
Taylor, Jennifer. Ancient Greek Civilizations. 1999.eMuseum Minnesota State University Mankato.
7 Feb. 2003 <http://emuseum.mankato.msus.edu/prehistory/aegean/>.

Website - Magazine or Newspaper

AuthorLastname, AuthorFirstname. "Article Title." Newspaper or Magazine Title Date
Published dd Mmm. yyyy. Date Retrieved dd Mmm. yyyy <URL>.
Tedeschi, Bob. "Pet Supplies Find Sales on Internet." New York Times on the Web 28 Oct. 2002.
18 Mar. 2007 <http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/28/technology/28ECOM. html>.

Website - Pictures

ArtistLastname, Artist Firstname. "Description or title of image." Date of image (if known). Online image.
Title of Web site. Date Retrieved dd Mmm. yyyy <URL>.
Smith, Greg. "Rhesus Monkeys in the Zoo." Online image. Monkey Picture Gallery. 3 May 2005

The above samples were found on the Palo Alto School Library Web Page.

Sample Bibliography or Works Cited Page

A bibliography or works cited page comes at the end of the paper, and includes the full citations for all sources used in creating a paper. This list is alphabetized by the first word in each citation, and includes formatting to make it easier to read. The second line of a source is typically indented, and there is usually a blank line in between each source.

Sample Works Cited

Chertoff, Nina, and Susan Kahn. Celebrating Board Games. New York: Sterling Pub. Co, 2006.
"The History of Monopoly Game Tokens ยป All About Fun and Games."All About Fun and Games. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2012. <http://allaboutfunandgames.com/the-history-of-monopoly-game-tokens>.

"Monopoly - 75 Years Young." Hasbro Toys & Games for Kids, Board Games & Action Figures. Hasbro, n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2012. <http://www.hasbro.com/monopoly/en_US/discover/75-Years-Young.cfm>.

Orbanes, Philip. Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game & How It Got That Way. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press, 2006.

"The True History of the Monopoly Game." Understanding Economics. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2012. <http://www.henrygeorge.org/dodson_on_monopoly.htm>.

Sample In-Text Citations

In-text citations help readers match specific facts in a paper with the sources they came from, located in the bibliography. In-text citations vary by format (MLA, APA, etc.), but typically include the author of a work, and the page number consulted. They are used to cite facts, statistics, quotes and opinions of persons other than the writer. For instance:

Sample paragraph from paper

The board game "Monopoly" is one of the most popular and well-known in the world; it has sold over 275 million copies and is available in 111 countries and 43 languages ("Monopoly - 75 Years Young"). The place names in "Monopoly" are based on actual streets and places in Atlantic City, New Jersey (Orbanes, 51-52).

Sample works cited

"Monopoly - 75 years Young." Hasbro Toys and Games for Kids, Board Games & Action Figures. Hasbro, 2012. Web. 3 Aug 2012. __<http://www.hasbro.com/monopoly/en_US/discovery/75-Years-Young.cfm>.

Orbanes, Philip. Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game and How It Got That Way. Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo Press, 2006.

Still need help? Ask the librarian!