Whether responding to a short prompt or crafting a long-form essay, writing is an indispensable skill for students who want to excel in their postsecondary education. When graduation rolls around, these same skills will be needed once more, whether in writing a cover letter for a potential job or composing essays for graduate-level admissions and scholarship requirements.

Citations in College Writing

Trying to remember all the rules of each style can be next to impossible for most students. The tips below help students identify a few of the most important rules while also giving them a list of common errors to avoid.

Crucial Citation Tips

  • No matter which style is being used, establishing authorship is an important component of any proper citation. Whether citing a single author or a collaborative paper completed by numerous researchers, each of their names needs to be mentioned.
  • APA style is particularly concerned with ensuring the publication date is included, even in in-text citations. Because this style is mostly used in science and social science writing, it’s important for the writer to note when the referenced material was published in case there have been new findings since then.
  • Student writers should pay close attention to the different uses for italics, quotation marks, underlining and parentheses when writing out citations and bibliographies, as most styles have different requirements for these punctuation tools. For instance, MLA and CMS require that a newspaper headline is enclosed in quotations, while APA doesn’t.
  • Online resources are treated differently among writing styles, and students should pay close attention to when a URL or DIO (digital object identifier) is required and when it is not.
  • When writing the bibliography for the end of a paper, students should pay close attention to the order in which information appears. While all styles typically require the author’s name, publication title, and date of release, they will be organized in a different order. Some citation styles, including APA, also require additional information, such as the publishing house and where it is located.