Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Citations - Parking, APA, MLA, & the Purdue OWL

Citations, citations, citations.

Most of us hate them. Whether they come in the form of parking tickets (of which I received two…in two different cities in a matter of two days) or in the form of a reference list, they are ever the cherry on top of a bad day sundae. (Sense the sarcasm.)

Citing sources is not hard. However, when we're juggling a million different thoughts and tasks and our attention is otherwise occupied, it makes getting them done correctly hard.

MLA or APA? Italics or quotation marks? Underline or parentheses? Citing is a never ending balancing act of the memory. There are no easy ways to remember which rules apply to which style. There are no pneumonic devices, at least that I know of, to jog the memory.

So … how do we get it right? Instead of taking an “educated” guess (we learned them both at some point, right? So we have a 50/50 shot of getting it correct.), why not seek the exact formula we need?

Easier said than done, right?


There is a handy-dandy website called Purdue Online Writing Lab or Purdue OWL for short that makes the entire process of citing – for lack of a better term – idiot proof. I use it weekly.

There are examples for every different kind of source. They show exactly where the author’s name, the title of the source, page numbers, publisher’s name, etc. all go. Essentially, there is no way to go wrong when using this website. We just transfer the information from our source into the “blanks” of the example and voilá! We are done citing.

The moral of this story: when in doubt, put some change in that meter or go to Purdue OWL’s website to double-check how to do in-text citations and bibliographies.

For specific links to guides for APA or MLA, here are you go-to sites:
In addition, you can find both of these links -- and more -- on the "Resources for Writers" page of the EIU Writing Center's webpage. 

1 comment:

  1. I may borrow your word play when I next have occasion to give a student a citation for their citations : )