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MLA Citation

Why do I need to cite my sources?

Cite your sources because...

  • Citing strengthens your writing.
  • Citing reveals that you have researched your idea and synthesized all the information into your own body of work. 
  • Citing shows that you have reached beyond your own world and listened to the ideas of others.
  • Citing someone else shows that other important people support your own thoughts. 
  • By quoting oppositional thoughts, you demonstrate that you have thought about both sides of an issue.
  • Citing makes you sound intelligent and will probably improve your grade.
  • It is the RIGHT thing to do!

Source: "Student Tools." New York Online2012. Web. 27 Apr. 2014.

Citation for Beginners


The following elements should be used for ALL SOURCES in the order shown below. If one element is not available, move to the next one on the list. Note the punctuation used after each entry.

What is a container?

When the source being documented forms part of a whole, the larger whole can be thought of as a container that holds that source. For example, a short story may be contained in an anthology. The short story is the source, and the anthology is the container. Another example is a magazine article found in a database. The magazine is the source; the database is the container.

What is an annotation?

Annotated bibliography: a works cited list that contains information about each item.

Following is Information that may be included in an annotation:

  • Content - What kind of information is being presented? Fact, opinion, ideas, arguments?
  • Usefulness - Is the information useful for this assignment?
  • Currency - Is the date of publication important to the topic?
  • Audience - Who was this written for? The general public? A scholar? A child?
  • Readability - Is it too easy? Too difficult? Just right?
  • Author's background - What makes this person an authority? 
  • Source format - How easy was it to access and use? Is the same information elsewhere or in an easier format? What is the format of the source (encyclopedia, reference book, YouTube video, website)?
  • Search strategy - How and where did you find the source?
  • Reaction - What did you like about the source? Were the main points presented clearly? What was difficult about the source?

Sample annotation:
CONNECTICUT. Hartford Courant Retrieved from 

I found this article by going to the SVS Library's database page and navigating to the box titled "Newspapers from Around the World," where I clicked on the Hartford Courant link. I used the key phrase "mountain lions" and limited my search to articles published within the last ten years. This article was very helpful because it gave me statistics from the Connecticut DEP as well as anecdotal information from around the state.

What are parenthetical references or in-text citations?

Parenthetical references: in-text citations that refer to the original sources of information.

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