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Free Tutorial On How To Cite Things In Your Research Paper

The vast majority of research papers require information from other credible sources. To show your appreciation of the input given by other authors, you will need to use in-text citations. Unfortunately, many students neglect the importance of this part of academics – since they don’t have a clear understanding of the term plagiarism.

How to Format Citations in Research Papers

The first sections of your work – introduction and discussion – are mainly based on the opinions and preconceptions of others. Not only it’s admissible, but it’s also highly recommended to build your own research upon the projects of others.

Undoubtedly, there are tons of ways how you can reference any given source. However, here are the most proliferated styles:

  • MLA
  • APA

Make sure you establish only one style at the beginning of a writing process. As soon as you make your decision, be consistent with it and don’t mix two styles in one paper. Keep in mind that using two of them simultaneously will make things unclear for your potential reader and may lead to a severe punishment from your tutor.


In general, all the citations have three obligatory components:

  1. Author
  2. Publication year
  3. Page/paragraph number

The presented structure of citations is necessary to provide credit to the sources used in your paper. If you fail to follow the citation rules, some parts of your research will be considered plagiarized.

The APA style is mostly used in social and psychological papers. If you intend to use this style, you will need to learn that every in text citation includes author’s surname, year of publication and page number. For instance, Doxiadis 2009, 22.

Difficulties may appear when there is no author, meaning that the source is entitled to some sort of organization. In such case, you use the recognized name of a given company or abbreviation. The exact abbreviation doesn’t matter that much, as long as you mention the full name in the bibliography.

The MLA style practices a slightly different type of in text citations. Specifically, it requires the following pattern: author’s name and page number. For example, Doxiadis, 22.

It may happen that you have to use the source that has been already referenced in another source. Apparently, it would be better if you find the original one, but such option isn’t always available. Hence, you would need to use two-stage referencing system: Di Donna, 1976, as cited in Doxiadis, 2009.

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