Citing your sources is a crucial aspect of academic writing. It not only allows readers to locate your sources but also adds credibility to your work and prevents plagiarism. One of the essential aspects of academic writing is the correct citation of sources. This not only helps avoid plagiarism but also lends credibility to your work. The three most commonly used citation styles are Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), and American Medical Association (AMA).
MLA style is predominantly used in humanities fields like language and literature. This citation style focuses on the author and the page number where the information was found. The key feature of the MLA style is the “Works Cited” page at the end of an academic paper. This page lists all the sources used in the research in alphabetical order.
APA style is widely used in social sciences. It emphasizes the date of publication, reflecting the importance of recent research in these fields. In-text citations in the APA format include the author’s last name and the year of publication. Like MLA, APA also features a list of references at the end of the paper, with authors listed by their surnames followed by their initials.
AMA style is used primarily in medical sciences and differs significantly from MLA and APA. Unlike MLA or APA, AMA citation uses a superscript method. To cite a source, include the number (in sequential order) as a superscript after the citation
Creating works cited page in MLA format involves a few key steps:
- Alphabetize the list: Start by arranging your citations in alphabetical order according to the first word in each citation.
- Formatting author names: Write the last name first, then the first name followed by the middle name or initial if available.
- Citing different sources: The format of the citation depends on the type of source. For example, for books, use the following format: Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.
Here’s an example of an MLA citation for a book:
Smith, John. An Overview of Climate Change. Penguin Books, 2020.
When compiling a reference list in APA format, follow these steps:
- Alphabetize the list: Similar to MLA, arrange your citations in alphabetical order.
- Formatting author names: Write the last name first, followed by the initials of the first and middle names.
- Citing different sources: The citation format varies based on the type of source. For instance, for books, use the following format: Author’s Last name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Year of Publication). Title of work: Subtitle. Publisher.
Here’s an example of an APA citation for a book:
Smith, J. (2020). An Overview of Climate Change. Penguin Books.
To assemble a reference list in AMA format, adhere to the following guidelines:
- Start a New Page: Begin your reference list on a fresh page immediately after the conclusion of your paper’s main text.
- Use Numerical Order: Unlike other citation styles, AMA requires that your reference list be organized numerically to match the order of your in-text citations. This means that the first source you cite in your paper should be number one on your reference list, and so on.
- Cite Sources in Text Using Superscript Numbers: Each reference should be cited in the text using superscript Arabic numerals. Place these superscript numbers outside periods and commas but inside colons and semicolons. If you are citing sequential references, indicate them with a hyphen.
- Format Author Names Correctly: In the AMA style, authors should be listed by their last names followed by the initials of their first and middle names without spaces or periods. For example, “John A. Smith” would be cited as “Smith JA.”
- Follow Specific Formatting Rules for Different Source Types: The format for citing different types of sources varies in AMA style. For instance, a journal article would be cited differently than a book or a website. Ensure you follow the correct format for each type of source.
- Maintain Consistent Margins and Spacing: Use one-inch margins on all sides of the page. All sections of the paper should be single-spaced, but double-spaced between paragraphs and entries in your reference list.
- Proofread Your Reference List: After compiling your reference list, go through it carefully to ensure there are no errors. Check that all in-text citations correspond to an entry in the reference list and that all entries are correctly formatted according to AMA guidelines.
Here’s an example:
Smith JA, Johnson KM. Studies in medicine: A comprehensive review. J Med Res. 2018;7:45-59.
Numerous online citation generators can simplify the process of creating citations. These tools allow you to enter the details about your source and then automatically generate a citation in the style you select. However, it’s essential to review the generated citations for accuracy, as these tools can sometimes make errors.
Accurate citations are pivotal to maintaining the integrity of your academic work. They help you avoid plagiarism and demonstrate that you have done your research. Accurate citations also allow your readers to follow up on your sources if they wish to explore the topic further.
Compiling an MLA or APA works cited page might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By understanding the basic rules and guidelines for each style, and with the help of online citation tools, you can easily and accurately cite your sources. Remember, proper citation is not just a formality; it’s a critical part of ethical and effective academic writing.