How To Make Citations In An Essay: Guidelines And Examples

There are many standard ways of citing sources in an essay. Some of the most commonly used styles include the MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), and the Harvard style. Each of these styles has its own peculiarities and has been developed with an eye towards making the reading of research papers an organized process. The citing of sources in each style is a detailed process and explaining each in the limited space here is not possible.

Let’s assume you are writing your essay in one of the most commonly used styles, the APA style. We will describe the process of making citations in the APA style to give you an idea of how citation systems work.

Citations in the APA style

  1. Citations in the body of the paper
  2. There are only two ways in which citations within the body of text are acceptable under the APA standard.

    • Last name of the author (date)
    • For example, let’s assume our author’s name is Arthur Conan Doyle and he published his book in 1886. Then an in text citation would read like this: “Doyle (1886) examines the impact of…….”

    • Everything in parenthesis
    • Using the above example: “This hypothesis has been proved to be empirically correct (Doyle, 1886).”

      When citing multiple authors, use “&” instead of “and”. For example: (Doyle and Portsmouth, 1886).

  3. Citations on the References Page
  4. The references page is appended to the end of your essay or paper. This page references all the works that have been cited in the text of your essay (not all that you have read). The general format of citations is as follows, for example for a paper from a journal:

Author last name, Initial. (Year of Publication). Name of Paper. Name of Journal, Journal Volume Number, Page numbers.

So for example:

Miller, D. (1977). The Use of Citations in an APA Style Paper. Journal of Writing Style, 1, 700-798.

The rules for citations from other sources are slightly different. For example, a website.

Miller, D. & Rourke, S. (2014). Technology and its impact on primary education: is our dependency on digital aids for learning an impediment? Retrieved March 13, 2015 from

It is important to note that the first line of a citation is flushed let on the page while the rest of the lines are indented (just press “Tab” on your keyboard).

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