How to Cite a Research Paper: APA, MLA, and Chicago Formats

How to Cite a Research Paper: APA, MLA, and Chicago Formats

Published by on 2021-04-12 09:49:12

Irrespective of the academic text you are working on, proper citing is a must, as it will give an opportunity to ignore plagiarism and other inaccuracies in the paper. Although there is a plethora of citing styles, APA, MLA, and Chicago are the typical ones that can be applied in scholarly works. Thus, apart from the deep and profound analysis of the research paper topic and its aspects, the learner should also pay due attention to the specifications of the selected citing styles. It will not only contribute to the relevance of the dissertation or thesis but will also contribute to its scholarly value.

How to properly cite sources in a research paper? This is the most common issue learners are concerned about the first time they are assigned a writing task. Are you ready to dive into the essay creation process? Start with the definitions.

A citation is a way writers give credit to people for their intellectual works used to support their research. In the overwhelming majority of instances, it is used to present certain ideas without being accused of plagiarism. There is a range of aspects that should be included in the citation:

  • the author’s initials;
  • date;
  • the publishing company;
  • the title of the journal;
  • digital object identifier.

A citation style is a unified way to structure data. Adhering to a definite citation format, the student gets data on how to order the basic facts and format them.

Once you perceive the concern of the proper citation in your work, you should keep investigating existing data to discover the exact citation type to use in a paper.

There are undeniably numerous ways the student can cite resources used in work. Nonetheless, the choice is not always individual, as it will depend on a few factors, with the academic discipline being the fundamental one. Thus, works in Education, Sciences, and Psychology are cited with APA style, essays in Humanities require MLA citing format, while Business, Fine Arts and History works should be presented in Chicago format.

Once you are ready to make the final choice that will contribute to the educational value of your work, it is critical to pay attention to another substantial aspect of the research paper writing process, such as the approach to citation. While most scholars working on Science use in-text citations, scholars crafting essays in Humanities prefer endnotes. Anyway, none of them are hard to adhere to, so the main task of the scholar is to sort out the citing style rather than focus on the single approach.

Why Use Citations?

The primary aim of the bibliography is to bypass plagiarism. By quoting origins in assignments, students mention the origin of knowledge and respect intellectual property rights.

Since learners research separate origins of knowledge and form their opinion, based on the reviewed research paper citing sources, they need to identify original materials in essays. In such a case, the bibliography is evidence that supports a particular point of view. It also helps readers discover the original papers containing more specific data regarding the reviewed problem.

Due to these reasons, learners have to be familiar with creating a research paper with references and sources. Citing origins in research papers, they don't violate intellectual property rights and support their findings.

APA Format: How to Cite Research Papers

APA is the abbreviation for American Psychological Association. The research paper format is employed substantively in texts associated with social sciences and psychology. Adhering to the rules of this style, the learner can deal not only with in-text citations but also endnotes and reference pages. It is critical to highlight that the APA format features generic writing requirements. Check out some of the basic guidelines you should adhere to in order to craft a properly structured work:

  • the paper size is 8.5” x 11”;
  • margins are 1” on all sizes;
  • spacing - double;
  • font – Times New Roman, 12 pt.;
  • page header on every page.

Once you are aware of the fundamental directives to the APA formatting, you should pay attention to other aspects of the writing, such as the title page, outline, abstract, methods section, main body, and references.

As for citing rules, it is indispensable to mind that they may vary depending on the source of the data you use. Here are some of the most common examples the writer can use:

  1. Books: Author, year, a month of publication. The title of work. The city of the publisher, State: Publisher.
  2. Websites: Author, year, month of publication. The title of the article. Retrieved from.
  3. Magazines: Author, year, month of publication. The title of the article. The title of Magazine, Volume, pp,-pp.

Writing a Well-Structured Research Paper in APA

All students desire to compose their assignments faster. Also, they want every paper to match the outstanding quality. Striving to meet the requirements of the professor and deal with the task fast, the learner should make an effort to adhere to the essay writing and formatting rules. The tips below will help you boost your essay completing performance and increase a paper's quality. Check out the guidelines to single out the most effective and helpful ones.

Add Essay Hook

Don't be shy about supplementing your article with a hook to grab readers' attention. It can take a few sentences in the introduction paragraph. Feel free to share some statistics, an interesting fact, or a quotation. An essay hook can increase the level of readers' engagement.

Use Bibliography Generators

If you desire to save your time composing the bibliography page and creating in-text mentions, use online tools that generate citations in a few clicks. By using them, you will need to specify a source and choose the APA style. Such a tool will generate an APA reference and quoting upon clicking a button. It is very convenient for learners who are short on time and need their paper to be performed as fast as possible.

Increase Performance

You can increase your performance by eliminating digital distractions. Put your smartphone into silence mode and install blocking software on your desktop.

Also, you can try freewriting. According to that writing practice, you should write anything that arises in your head for five minutes without any interruptions. If you can hardly do this, try using The Most Dangerous Writing App. This application erases the entire draft if a user stops typing.

Formatting an APA Research Paper

Writing a paper in APA format needs learners to make their writings match the standards. First of all, you should apply a special style to the entire text. Here is the list of formattings:

  • 1-inch side borders
  • double-spaced content
  • 0.5 inches indent
  • page number
  • Times New Roman 12pt. font

All these edits have to be applied to the entire text. In another way, you can download an APA research paper template on the Internet. You can also check the detailed requirements for your papers and their formatting at the official APA style site

Subject Lines

Due to the latest published guidance on how to write a paper in APA format for college, it is allowed to use five lines for a paper subject. The headline is to be centered and strong.

The second and third levels of subject lines are to be left-aligned and strong. The new text is required to begin on the next line and have an indent applied to the first line. Besides, the third level of subject lines is to be italic.

The fourth and fifth levels of headings are to be intended bold. Also, it should contain a period. The new text must start on the same line. Note, the fifth level heading is to be italicized.

Title Page

Every APA assignment is to have a dedicated sheet that must be formatted properly. It must include an article topic, a learner's name, and an affiliation. It's recommended to keep it concise. The ideal title consists of ten to twelve words. All the text is supposed to be centered on the first page of a research paper in APA.

Tables and Graphs

These days, a lot of styles can be applied to tables. However, there are some limitations in formatting tables in the APA style. In mere words, it's vital to keep the tables' design simple. The name is to be placed on a new row above or below a table. Numbers are to be bold. Also, it's prohibited to use vertical lines.

In-Text Citations

This type of quotation is added in an investigation article to show the origin of knowledge. The APA style's in-text quotations should consist of the author's surname and year of publishing. Also, it's allowed to specify a particular page or range of sheets.

Bibliography Page

If you don't understand how to format a research paper APA, you should pay thorough attention to the bibliography page. It is a distinctive sheet that must contain a centered, bold heading. The initial line of each source is left-aligned. However, the following lines should be 0.5 inches paragraphed. The APA reference must have the author's surname, date, headline, source. It's vital to follow the mentioned order. All the citations must be alphabetically sorted.

How to Cite an Academic Paper in MLA Format

When it comes to writing essays, research papers, and all other academic assignments, any student might feel confused. There are multiple reasons and aspects for students to get into frustration and even anxiety. They may find it challenging to process a topic, to come up with a worthy thesis, or to find suitable arguments for supporting their opinion.

Additionally, a student might be worried about special, non-typical requirements that a professor might ask them to keep up with. In most cases, all the frustration and anxiety fade away after a fresh student successfully completes a couple of assignments on their own. Nevertheless, one question is definitely among the scariest for them. Sometimes, even positive experience with their papers doesn’t work as a calming factor when this issue arises: a student wonders how to write an essay in MLA format properly and flawlessly.

The Modern Language Association format is another citing style used in Humanities, and Liberal Arts works. The MLA academic format is used in the USA, Canada, and other countries to complete assignments in languages, literature, orthography, and research papers on the same topics. The list of papers may also include comparative analyses, literature critics, media studies, and other subjects related to the fields above.

In April 2021, they published the latest 9th edition of the MLA handbook. Of course, it explains how to write a paper in MLA format and is mainly addressed to professors and students of high schools, colleges, and universities. Additionally, the handbook offers samples of MLA papers, text citations, references, and bibliography lists.

Now, when you know what an MLA format is, at least in theory, it is time to proceed further. We go deep into the details. Let’s see how to format your paper properly.

  • font – Times New Roman, 12pt.;
  • spacing - double;
  • margins – 1” on all sides;
  • indent: ½ inch for a new paragraph;
  • capitalization: Title case for all headings.

At this point, it is inevitable to mention that general guidelines and recommendations are not enough, as the accuracy of the reference page is critical. Check out fundamental instruction on how to cite a research paper in a paper in the MLA style:

  1. Book: Last, first names of the author. The title of the book. The city of the publisher: Name, Year of publication.
  2. Websites: Last, first name of the author. “The title of the page.” The title of the website. Publisher. Date of publication: number of pages.
  3. Magazines: Last, first name of the writer. “The title of the article.” Magazine name and date of publication: number of pages.

How to Write in MLA Format: Doing It Right

The knowledge about how to put an essay in MLA format will come in handy if you are a first-year high school student. It will be even more vital for you in case you plan to pursue your Master’s or Ph.D. degree in the future. Additionally, it is inevitable to remember that this formatting style may be needed for a range of other papers and scholarly work. Therefore, the student should not only learn the basics but also dive into the details and specifications of the issue. Keep reading to get more information necessary for successful and efficient studying.

Heading and Title Page: Begin It Correctly

To shape the MLA heading properly, you need to align it to the left side of the first paper’s page. The heading should provide:

  • the author’s full name;
  • the name of a supervisor (professor, instructor, etc.);
  • the number or name of the course;
  • the assignment’s due date.

When you complete the heading, proceed with the title. To place it correctly, hit the “enter” button one time, and type that title. Then, place it at the center of the row. It is critical to capitalize words properly according to the title case.

Done? Okay, let’s move on.

MLA Header: How to Format the Top of the Page

This includes the first page in MLA!

The header here gives the author’s last name and the number of the page. The step-by-step guide for Microsoft Word or Google Docs is, fortunately, the same. To create a proper header, you should:

  • point a cursor at the page’s top margin, and click there twice;
  • add your last name to the zone lighted after;
  • apply automatic numbering to all pages;
  • set the right-side alignment to the header’s content;
  • insert automatic page numbering;
  • align the content to the right.

Again, there is nothing difficult. However, the next paragraph will require a bit more thoroughness and attention from you to make it right from the first try.

How to Write an Essay in MLA Format: Works Cited Page

The works cited page contains the information about every reference directly used to build your essay and its proofs. It is the completely separate, new page placed last in the paper. To move to a new page without striking “enter” many times in a row, press Ctrl + Enter once.

Cited works should go A to Z. Important note: specifying the works you only checked for consultation is not needed.

The page should be properly titled with the words “Works Cited.” The type should be placed in the top row of the page and aligned to its center. Then, hit “enter” again, and set your references formatted according to MLA requirements.

In case the entire reference entry takes more than a single line, add a hanging indent of ½ inch to each line after the 1st one. The spacing is the same as for all other pages: double.

As you understand already, an essay, a research paper, or any academic assignment you complete needs to have the info from other sources cited. That citation varies from one formatting style to another.

In the case of MLA citing, two kinds of citations exist: full and in-text.

When pointing out the information on the Works cited page, make sure you keep up with the following order and formatting:

Last name of the author, then their First name. “Source Title.” Container Title, contributing authors, editions, numbers, publisher, publication date, place.

To make the lives of students easier, many specialized services and freelancing enthusiasts created websites with citation scripts available to use for free. There you provide the script with the necessary info about the source(s) you want to cite, and the simple program applies the algorithm to generate the properly crafted MLA citation. You only copy and paste it into your Works Cited page. That’s it.

Writing an Essay in MLA Format: Headings and Subheadings

Well, this is more relevant for long essays or research papers that should be structured with the use of correctly formatted headings and subheadings to make it simpler to navigate through the information volumes. Rules of MLA format do not set strict formatting recommendations and demands about your headings. Just do not put a period after them. And, of course, make sure they are consistent.

It is better to adjust to the rest of the demands. For instance, keep the same Times New Roman font and its size, and apply the standard title case capitalization.

How to Cite a Research Study in Chicago Format

Compared to the citing styles mentioned above, Chicago is less popular and used, as the area of its application is limited. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most typical formats for works in Humanities. As specified in the requirements of the style, the author should cite sources in endnotes. The format is exceptionally valued by the writers who love to include quotes and refer to famous works in their papers.

It is indispensable to mention that the Chicago style requirements are slightly different than the ones of APA and MLA formats. Thus, it is inevitable to mind the specifications and adhere to them throughout the work:

  • font – Times New Roman, 12pt.;
  • spacing – double. The exceptions include table titles, block quotes, due date, and figure captions;
  • margins – 1” on all the sides;
  • page number – in the header of the first page, starting with number 1.

Apart from the comprehensive principium, the writer should also mind distinct citing requirements. Adhere to the guidelines and essay writing tips to succeed with the work and contribute to its academic value:

  1. Books: Last and first name of the author. The title of the book. The city of the publisher: Name, Year of publication.
  2. Websites: Last and first name. “The page title.” The title of the website. Web address.
  3. Magazines: Last and first name. The title of the article. The title of the magazine, Month, Year of publication.

Essay Quotations and Citations: Know the Difference

Now, when you have refreshed your understanding of the importance of citations and quotations, it is time to proceed with the next point. A lot of students make the same mistake when they perceive these two academic writing definitions as synonyms. Quotations and citations are not the same. They are not similar or likely. They are totally different when speaking of the process of planning and writing your essays.

Simply put, a citation in an essay references a particular source without directly quoting it. For instance, inserting a paragraph that is a part of any relevant source in your essay and then restating its point with your own words is a citation. Simple pasting of the original source’s piece into your paper is not an option in this case.

On the other hand, there is quoting. Quoting supposes a student (a researcher or any other person writing an academic paper) to paste a paragraph or phrase directly, with no changes made. That is the focus difference between citations and quotations.

As it was mentioned at the very beginning of this article, the format of both quotes and citations is among the points to pay attention to. The fact that it is mentioned here last does not make it less important. Formats depend on formatting styles that must be applied to your paper. That is why it is critical to study all instructions carefully and attentively. Otherwise, even an essay with perfectly chosen and ideally used proofs, quotes, and citations will never get the top grade it would rightfully deserve.

Concluding Words

Irrespective of the type of academic writing you are working on, proper formatting is a must. A well-organized structure, maximum coherence, and consistency are the basics that should be followed. Adhering to the core rules and formatting guidelines, the student enhances the chances to create a meaningful and well-organized text worth the highest grade and appreciation.

Since citing in a research paper is standardized by strict rules, there are a lot of digital solutions that help learners generate mentions in a few clicks. Using online generators, learners can specify a link to a textbook, website, or any other scholarly article and choose a formatting method to generate quotations simultaneously.

There is nothing wrong if you use online instruments for citing sources in a research paper. However, always double-check the generated results to avoid any possible formatting problems in your writing assignment. Revise, proofread and edit the text in order to eliminate any mistakes or other issues that may prevent you from the desirable success.