What Is A Citation?

When you are writing a research paper, it is important to make sure that you reference other authors and researchers. Drawing on other sources is vital in a research paper, but what are citations and when do you need to use them?

Understanding when to use citations and how to use them correctly can be difficult if you are not familiar with them. There are different ways to write papers, so do you use citations the same way for all of them? You can find out more below!

What Is A Citation

This article will explain more about what a citation is and how you use them in your work. Using them correctly is important for making your paper credible and to avoid plagiarism. Find out more about citations and how to use them properly here. 

What Is A Citation?

A citation is something that you put into your research paper to tell the reader where you got the information from that is not your idea.

When the information that is not your own is used in the text, an in-text citation is used at the end of the quote or the paraphrased information to give credit to the original author so that you avoid plagiarism. 

As well as using in-text citations, a reference page needs to be added at the end of your paper. This is a more detailed list of the work that has been used in your research so that people can then find all of the sources of information used in your paper. 

What Are Citation Styles?

Citation styles are the ways that the original work is referenced in your paper.

The citation styles that are used most often in papers are APA and MLA, so it is important to make sure that you are aware of how to properly cite your work to avoid plagiarism. 


APA (American Psychological Association) citations are mostly used in research papers that are written about social sciences.

When you are using APA citations in your paper, you need to cite the sources that you either quote or paraphrase in your work. You either need to quote the information directly from the author or put the original ideas in your own words. 

There are different citations that you can use for APA. You can either use short-form in-line citations, which are found at the end of the paper so that the reader can find the source of information easily.

You can also use an in-line citation, also known as an in-text citation. An in-text citation is placed in the same line as the text, so you cite the name of the source and the date that it was written in brackets. 

An example of this is the Author’s name (date of publication), then the quote or paraphrase that has been used (and the page number where it is found in the publication). 

There are different ways to cite various citations as you could be using books, articles, or films in your paper. For books, you need to cite the source by writing the last name of the author, followed by the first name of the author, and then followed with a full stop.

You write the year that the source was published in brackets, the title of the source in italics, add a full stop, then where the source was published, and who published it. 

What Is A Citation (1)

An example of a book source is the author’s last name, the author’s first name. (the date that the source was published). The title of the source. End the citation with where it was published and the publisher of the source. 


MLA citations are often used for sources in humanities papers. MLA citations follow an author-page style when writing in-text citations and page numbers are not usually recorded in the citation unless there is a direct quote being used in the paper. 

An example of MLA citations where a direct quote is used is to state the quote, and then end the citation with (the name of the author and the page number). 

At the end of a paper that uses MLA citations, you then need to make a references section, otherwise known as the works cited page. This is very similar to the references page that you need to add for APA papers. 

You may come across references in MLA where there is more than one author. In this case, add the author’s name and add a comma before you write ‘et al.’, meaning “and others”.

You then write the reference as the last name of the author, the first name of the author, et al. (if there are other authors), and the name of the source in italics.

Next, add the name of the person who edited the publication, the edition, the publisher, and the date that it was published. 

Electronic Sources

If you are citing electronic sources, you need to include the full URL of the electronic source that you are using.

One of the main problems with electronic sources is that you need to make sure that you find the author, and a lot of online sources do not state who the author is. 

When you are using APA citations, you cite electronic sources the same way as you would cite a book. However, you need to state what type of source it is in brackets and include the full URL. 

For MLA citations, you cite electronic sources the same as any other source. Instead of having a full stop after the date, replace it with a comma and paste the full URL of the source. 

Final Thoughts

To conclude, citations are important to use as they direct readers to the sources that are used in your paper. It is important to make sure that you cite the correct sources, as if you do not, you will risk plagiarizing other people’s work.

There are different citation styles that you can use, so it is important to follow the correct style to make sure that your work is well-written and organized. 

Justin Shaw