Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In-text Documentation and Citation

Works cited pages are definitely an important part of research writing, but it is only one element of an adequately cited and sourced paper. The second important element is using in-text documentation or citation. This is the method generally used by the Modern Language Association.

Every piece of information you include in your paper from another source must be cited both in text and in the works cited page. This is true for paraphrasing -- "putting it in your own words" -- summary, and, of course, direct quotations. All in-text documentation must also appear in a works cited entry, and you will not have anything in a works cited entry that is not also cited in text. Failure to include either a works cited or in-text documentation will result in suspicion of plagiarism. Take the time to do it right so that there will be no question later.

So what needs to go into in-text documentation. Well, it can be a little different for each source. Commonly for a book, you need to include the author's name and a page number. For a Web site, you might use the page title and the URL or the host site of the page. Some great examples from Duke University can be found here. It follows MLA format and is pretty clear with how in-text documentation should look.

Of course, the best place to get information about in-text documentation and works cited pages is the MLA handbook. This is a book you will need throughout high school and college. Becoming comfortable with it now will only make things easier later.

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