Citing Sources. Custom Essay Writing Service


 

Citing Sources

On the "Works Cited" page, simply list the works in alphabetical order by the last name of the author. Give the full title (italics for books, quotation marks for articles, and so on), the publisher, the publication date of the exact copy of the text you cited from, and the city of publication. Here are two examples of entries for the "Works Cited" page; the first is an article, the second a book:

Smith, Paul, and Janet Davis. "The Psychedelic Properties of Fermented Bat Guano." Altered States Review 10:4-40.

Williams, David R. Sin Boldly! Dr. Dave Guide to Writing the College Paper. Cambridge: Perseus, 2000.

The reason for the citation is to allow a suspicious professor to check on your citation. You must therefore refer to the exact edition. The wording sometimes changes. Scholars are always finding new evidence of authorial intent that was mangled by some ham-handed or prudish printer. Even such classics as Emerson Nature and Twain Huckleberry Finn have recently undergone change.

There are too many variables in this format to list here. For all of the many possibilities, refer to a standard handbook, preferably The MLA Style Manual. Newspaper articles, encyclopedias, film and videotape, and other miscellaneous sources all have different rules for citation. If you remember the reason for the citation, you will probably not get in trouble. Provide the reader with a way to get from the quotation in the text to the actual source as quickly and easily as possible. That is all.

One problem I have with the MLA system is that it does not allow for an easy and consistent use of what I call "chatty endnotes." Sometimes we writers want to put extraneous information in a note and not in the text. For instance, we may want to thank our spouses and children for not interrupting us so that we could write our precious monographs. Or we might want to cite thirteen other books on the topic that failed to get the point. Or we might want to include some special pleading. All of these are legitimate and fun. I have read several academic books in which such footnotes were the only good parts. In this case, you need to create a second page titled "Notes." In your text, when you want to refer to one of these asides, you must use the old superscript 1, 2, 3, and so on. This is clumsy and makes the MLA system more complex rather than simpler. It imposes a second overlay of notation upon your text. Perhaps you should simply leave chatty footnotes to chatty professors, and either leave out the information if it is unimportant or include it in your text.

The MLA system is relatively new and still under development. In American English, nothing is ever written in stone. Be sure to ask your professor what he or she prefers. For instance, unlike the MLA, I see no reason to include a lengthy bibliography that basically duplicates the "Works Cited" page. I tell students to include each of their reference works on the "Works Cited" page even if they do not have a citation to it. But I also tell them to change its name to a "Works Consulted" page. That way, this page can serve as a bibliography too without having to lie about it. Why waste paper?

 
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