As every student or academic knows, citing sources for an essay is an essential part of any written work. It is important to avoid plagiarism, so an essay writer needs to show the sources of her research.

Gather All Your Sources

Writers and researchers use many different sources of information nowadays – these could include newspapers, books, other theses and online journals or articles. Depending on what citation format you are using, each source of literature usually has to be cited in a particular way.

Use Quotations

Embedded quotes should look like this:

sourcesNikos Kazantzakis said that he had a “great desire” to write about St Francis of Assisi to express his gratitude towards him, and that he thought of the latter as “a man who was able to conquer death”.

When lifting directly from a source, always put quotation marks between the quoted phrases.

When quoting long blocks of texts, you should:

  • Ideally change the font style and size
  • Arrange your margins – indent and centralise the quoted text
  • Leave out quotation marks
  • If you are using Microsoft Word, just highlight the paragraph you want to quote, right click and select paragraph, and change the left indentation to 0.5. Always press Enter before the first word and after the last to make sure you leave a space between the quote and the rest of the essay.

Footnotes

If you want to leave a comment or some brief side information about something you have written, footnotes are a great way to do it. Footnotes leave a small number next to the sentence and further information appears at the bottom of the page. They can also be used as reference sources after quoting a text or paraphrasing an author or work – always check your citation style as to how they should be used.

Citation Styles

Your teacher or lecturer usually instructs or advises as to which style should be used when writing your essay – some are specific to certain fields in academia. The most popular styles are:

  • Chicago: used for magazines, books and newspapers
  • APA (American Psychological Association): used for social sciences such as anthropology, psychology and education
  • MLA (Modern Language Association): used in liberal arts and humanities, e.g. English, History, Philosophy
  • Harvard: used for various publication purposes
  • Turabian: used by college students from different fields

After sources have been collected and cited following one of these formats, these references are compiled into what is called a bibliography – usually found at the end of the essay on a separate sheet of paper. Bibliographies should be arranged alphabetically in one single list. It should include authors’ names, dates, years of publication, the publisher’s name and the place of publication. Collections of articles used should include the name of the editor.

Knowing how to cite your sources helps to verify your work further and strengthens your credibility as a scholar. Most importantly of all it serves as a solid fact-checking tool in a so-called ‘post-truth’ world, and protects you against claims of plagiarism.