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Citing Sources of Information

Suggested resources for citing sources correctly

Understanding a citation

You need to know how to read a citation in order to identify the different parts of a citation, create your own citations correctly, and find items (like books and articles) from a reading list, bibliography, or other source.While citations are formatted in a variety of styles (like APA and MLA), there are common elements that will help you read a citation.

Clues to reading a citation

See the different citations below (in APA format) and the clues that follow to help you understand how to read a citation properly.

 

Clues that the citation above is from a book:

  • Italics are used to set off the title.  Sometimes the title is underlined instead.
  • There is a place of publication and a publisher.
  • There is no volume or issue number.
  • There are no page numbers.

 

Clues that the citation above is from a book chapter:

  • Italics are used to set off the title (like a citation for a book).
  • The word "In" followed by editors (authors), title, and page numbers.
  • There are two titles.
  • There is a place of publication and a publisher (like for a book).
  • There is no volume or issue number.

 

Clues that the citation above is from a journal article:

  • There are two titles.
  • The second title is the journal title.  It is in italics. Sometimes this title will be underlined instead.
  • There is a voume number.  In this case there is also an issue number (which may or may not be given).
  • There are page numbers.
  • There is a DOI (Digital Object Identifier).  This piece of information was introduced relatively recently, so it may not always be given.

 

Clues that the above citation is from a newspaper article:

  • In addition to the year, the date includes the month and day.
  • There are two titles, and the title of the newspaper is in italics.  Sometimes it may be underlined.
  • A newspaper title often includes terms like "Times," "Post," "Tribune," or "Observer."

 

Clues that the citation above is from a webpage:

  • There are no volume, issue, or page numbers.
  • There is the phrase "Retrieved from" followed by a URL.

Printable guide to reading citations