5 ways you've been doing your citations wrong

5 Ways You’ve Been Doing Your Citations Wrong

Correctly citing the sources you used to write a paper, whether it is in MLA format or another style, is an important aspect of writing. It prevents plagiarism, gives proper credit to the appropriate people, and helps the reader of your work identify where they can find additional information on the topic. It is easy, however, to make mistakes when making citations, especially when your paper is due ASAP!

Let’s take a look at some of the most common errors made when making citations, and at some tips on how you can avoid making them in your next paper.

1. Incorrect Paraphrasing

Incorrect paraphrasing is an all too common way that students fall into the trap of committing accidental plagiarism. This usually occurs when the writer simply replaces only one or two words of the phrase they are paraphrasing, and puts it into their paper as if it was their own original idea. To prevent this from happening in your paper, you must be sure to write the idea in a new way. Two easy ways to ensure you do this effectively is to 1. Change the sentence structure of the phrase, and 2. Use synonyms for the phrase’s keywords. Then, follow the paraphrased text with a parenthetical citation.

2. Incorrectly Placed Periods

For in-text or parenthetical citations in virtually every citation style, the period follows the parenthesis. For example: (Brown, 1995). Be sure that you don’t accidentally include the period or other punctuation mark within the parenthesis.

3. Inconsistency in Citation Style Used

It is all too easy to slip into using various citation styles within one paper, especially if you are using one for the first time. Be sure to double check your citations at the end of your paper to ensure that they all conform to the same style and format. This is especially important if your professor does not specify which citation style you should use. To make your references clear to the reader, consistency is key.

4. Leaving Citations Out of the Reference List/Works Cited Page

Every in-text citation—like parenthetical APA citations or footnotes in Chicago style—in your paper must correspond to an entry in a reference list or works cited page. A common mistake is to overlook a parenthetical citation and therefore omit it from the reference list. One easy way to prevent this from happening is to make your reference list as you write your paper, instead of waiting until the end of the paper writing process. This will ensure that no citation gets missed.

5. Adding the Same Reference After Each Sentence

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as over-citing! If all information in one paragraph refers to the same source, you only need to provide a single citation at the end of the entire paragraph, not after each individual sentence. Just be sure to include the relevant author, date, or page number information, depending on which citation style you are using.

You can use BibMe Plus’s bibliography tools and grammar check to not only help create accurate citations for your paper, but also to see if there are edits that could make your paper stronger. It makes correctly citing your sources and turning in a great paper a much simpler, quicker and easier task all round.