An essential part of the research process is documenting the sources you have used. When using someone else's ideas or exact words, you must cite and document those words or ideas. Most college instructors require formal documentation of sources. At Carroll Community College, we use either the MLA (Modern Language Association) style or the APA (American Psychological Association) style of documentation. There are two key aspects of documentation - in-text citation and the Works Cited or References list



In-Text Citations

In the body of an essay, insert an in-text or parenthetical citation when you quote or paraphrase an author's ideas. In-text citations are frequently preceded by a signal phrase. A signal phrase indicates to the reader that the idea belongs to someone else. Here are some examples of signal phrases and in-text citations in the MLA format:


Robert Frost once said, "I'd just as much assume playing tennis without a net, as writing free verse" (89).


In Sophocles' Antigone, Creon represents the state through both his actions and his words (Miller 33).


According to Lillian Schanfield, Shakespeare's places do not represent those cities or societies so much as comment on Elizabethan England (66).


In the first example, note that only the page number is included in the parenthesis after the quote because the author's name is mentioned in the signal phrase.

In the second example, the author's name appears in the parenthesis because his name was not included in a signal phrase.

The third example is a paraphrase; the signal phrase indicates the author of the source article and the page number of the journal appears in parenthesis. 


Paraphrasing and Quoting

Paraphrasing and quoting other's ideas and words can be tricky. It is essential, however, to avoid plagiarism by correctly citing and documenting sources.

With direct quotes, include quotation marks around the exact words used and include the correct author and page (if needed) in the parenthesis. If the original source is online, the author may be the title of the web page and a page number may be unavailable. Electronic sources vary depending on the original source used. Consult a style manual or Library style guide for examples.

Paraphrasing can be challenging. Paraphrasing correctly requires capturing the original author's ideas without repeating the exact words used. To paraphrase, use different words and sentence structure as well as your own ideas. As with direct quotes, include an in-text, parenthetical citation. Generally, the author's name and page number must be included in the parenthesis.

For a humorous yet informative video from Rutgers University, view this 3-part series
(but turn your volume DOWN first - it is very loud) Rutgers Plagiarism videos








Works Cited or References

The second key element of documentation is the list of sources used in writing the paper. This list is called Works Cited in the MLA style and References in the APA style. The format will differ depending on the style required by the instructor.

The Works Cited or References list is alphabetical by author and includes descriptive information about all the sources used in the essay or research paper.

Every type of source used must be documented in the proper format: books, journal articles, web sites, newspaper articles, television shows, films, email, etc. Each has a specific format for documentation.

To see an example of a Works Cited page in MLA format, scroll to the end of this sample MLA research paper.

APA uses the term References to describe the list of sources used. Scroll to the end of this APA paper to see the References page.








Works Cited / References - Print Sources

The Library provides a number of online style guides and print style manuals which should help in developing your Works Cited or References lists. The following are examples of Works Cited / References entries for some of the commonly used resources. Developing your Works Cited or References lists is a complicated process as you can see below. Be sure to record the descriptive information for each source the first time you use the source.


Book by a single author - APA style

Author's name (last name, initial(s)) (year). Title of book. Place of publication: Publisher. 

Hook, L. (2003). The digital divide: A brief history. New York: Tapestry.


Books by unknown author - MLA style

Title of Book. (Alphabetize entry by the first word of the title skipping "A", "An", or "The".) Edition

number (if any). Place of publication: Publisher, year. Print.

Smyth World Atlas. 5th ed. New York: Ottawa House, 2003. Print.




Works Cited / References - Online Sources

Documenting online, electronic sources presents some unique challenges. It may be difficult to identify the author, web page organization, or even web page title. Use the style guides on the Library's home page or ask assistance from a librarian.


Web Site with an author or authors - MLA style

Author/editor/creator. "Document Title." Web Site Title. Name of organization associated with the site.

Date. Medium. Access date. *

 Stambaugh, Larry, and Angeline Davies. "Scribe Statues." Ancient Egyptian Art. Art 

Research Institute. n.d. Web. 31 July 2010. *


Journal article from an online database - MLA style

Author. "Article Title." Journal Title Volume number.Issue number (Year): beginning page or page

range (if given). Name of database. Web. 12 Jan. 2010. *

Fair, Eleanor Jane, et al. "Native American Art: Historical Perspectives." Art in America 90.6

(2006): 35. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Jan. 2. *

*Note: URL's are not a required part of an MLA citation, but may be required by the instructor. If required, they appear in angle brackets < > after the Access date.


The Library also provides access to an online documentation tool called NoodleBib. NoodleBib uses a series of screens to prompt you for descriptive information about the sources used during the research process. The information is used to format a list of Works Cited (MLA) or a References list (APA) into a Word document. The Word document can be added as the final page of the research paper or essay.

Access to NoodleBib is provided on the Library home page under "Citing and Evaluating Sources." First time users must register and create a personal ID. Look for the following:


noodlebib image.jpg