Throughout the body of your essay (primarily the introduction and main body), you need to cite the sources whenever you refer to facts, ideas, numbers, quotes or alike that are borrowed from the outside sources of information. Without citations, an essay does not look well-researched, realistic and trustworthy. In contrast, an essay with citations shows that the author has dedicated time to exploring the topic from various perspectives, analyzed the information and developed his own idea and understanding of the topic based on the research. Moreover, you need to adhere to a certain formatting style, for example, APA citation guidelines, to accord your paper a professional presentation.

In academic writing, you need to use credible sources of information, such as books, internet sources, or scholarly journals among others. You can cite the primary source material using the direct quotation to strengthen your argument or highlight the key piece of the term or validate the numbers. You can paraphrase the original text and thus express the idea using your own words. You can use a mixed quotation, whereby you combine a direct quotation with paraphrased text. Irrespective of the technique you have chosen, you need to specify the source by following certain prescriptions, for example, the APA citation format.

It is important to use the groundwork materials effectively and cite them properly throughout the text if you want to create a successful essay. Properly maintained citation serves one more important function: it ensures your paper is plagiarism-free. Plagiarism is a severe act of violation in academic writing. It is defined as a reckless or deliberate use of other authors’ ideas or thoughts and passing them off as your own. You surely are encouraged to share and create ideas, but it is the use of proper citations material that serves as the borderline between plagiarized and authentic paper. For example, following MLA citation rules, you are supposed to indicate the author’s last name and page number when citing the source in the text.

APA Format

One of the most commonly used writing styles is APA referencing format, also known as the author/date style. It is used in social sciences and other disciplines. The simplest way to cite your source throughout the text is to indicate the author’s last name and the date of the publication in the brackets, for example, (Brown, 2016), although there is a number of other options to do it. The sources need to be specified in a form of a list with complete details on the last page titled References.

  • Entries need to be arranged in the alphabetical order based on the author’s last name or using the title if the author is not known.
  • The first line of each entry is typed flush with the left margin, whereas the consecutive lines are typed using a hanging indent (one-half inch space left blank off the left margin).
  • The entries, such as books, journals, internet sources, etc. can be distinguished from each other through application of versatile techniques, such as fonts, capitalization, and punctuation that are thoroughly prescribed in the APA manual.

Harvard Format

Harvard citation style is similar to APA in many ways. For example, Harvard citation format is also known as author/date style. Throughout the text, you indicate the author’s last name and the year of publication, but if you indicate them in the brackets, there is no comma between them, unlike in the APA style, e.g., (Brown 2016). Harvard style also provides the guidelines on how to specify the sources in the List of References, and the main rule is to maintain consistency throughout the listings, such as:

  • The author’s or editor’s name (names);
  • The year of publication;
  • The title of the book / article;
  • The city of publication (for books) or the title of the journal respectively.
  • The name of the publisher.

Whereas the APA style is broadly used in the USA, Harvard style is primarily used in the UK and Australia, especially in humanities.

Chicago Format

Chicago is a unique format in many ways. Primarily used in history and economic research, Chicago referencing has two variants: note-bibliography (NB) and author-date (AD). You need to choose one style and follow it meticulously throughout the paper: punctuation, capitalization, font, and spacing – all that matters. The word order of each entry must be thoroughly maintained as well. For example, for the books you need to provide the following information:

  • The author’s last name and first name (names);
  • The title of the book;
  • The city of publication;
  • The name of the publisher and
  • The year of publication.

MLA Format

Modern Language Association has developed a citation style broadly known as MLA referencing format that is primarily used in the USA. Claimed to be one of the easiest citation styles, MLA is mainly associated with humanities and arts. Citations in the text correlate with the list of the sources that is given on the last page called the Works Cited.

Unlike the APA style citation that is also called the author-date style, MLA in text citation is broadly referred to as the author-page style as it specifies the page number besides the author in the text. The Works Cited list is arranged in the following way:

  • List the entries in the alphabetical order based on the author’s name or the title (if the author is not known);
  • Capitalize each word in the entry (except for prepositions and alike);
  • Align the first line flush left with the left margin and indent the additional lines 5 spaces or ½ inch off the left margin.
  • The entries are distinguished from each other with the help of different fonts and punctuation.