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PG 279: Political Inquiry

Why We Cite

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Citations allow you to:

  • Enable your readers to find further information on your topic
  • Build the authority of your argument with ideas from numerous sources
  • Be a responsible researcher and avoid plagiarism 

What Needs to be Cited

Any time you write something that did not 100% come from your own brain, or that does not constitute common knowledge, you need to cite where you got the information. This means you will include a citation anytime you use some else's words or idea in your own work. Including:

  • Direct quotes -- full sentences or phrases expressing an idea
  • Paraphrases -- when you put someone's ideas into your own words (do not use quotation marks)
  • Words or terminology specifically related to the author's ideas
  • An author's line of argument or point of view
  • Historical, statistical, or scientific facts. 
  • Graphs, drawings, or images. 

You do not need to document:

  • Proverbs, axioms, or well know phrases. 
  • Common knowledge

If you are not sure, it is better to over-cite than under-cite. 

MLA 9th Edition

The new edition of MLA citation style was designed to simplify the process of citing your sources. Now, every source type will follow the same general format, which requires the same core elements in the same order. 

In-text Citations

For more guidelines and examples, check out the MLA Style Center In-Text Citations Overview.

Basic Format:

(Last Name Page #)

Or, introduce direct quotes with the author and title within the sentence or paragraph, then include the page number(s) at the end of the quote in parentheses.

I'm citing...

Format Description Example
1 Author You only need the author's last name and the page number. (Burke 3)
2 Authors Connect both authors' last names with "and", and include the page number (Best and Marcus 9)
3 or More Authors Use the first author's last name and et al., and include the page number (Franck et al. 327)
No Authors Use a shortened title of the work. ("Impact of Global Warming")

Works Cited - Core Elements

  1. Authors.
  2. Title of the Source.
  3. Title of the container, 
  4. Other contributors, 
  5. Version, 
  6. Numbers, 
  7. Publisher, 
  8. Publication date, 
  9. Location. 

For more information:

MLA Citation Guide Online

MLA Citation Style in Print

Purdue's OWL MLA examples 


Book with No Author

Title. Publisher, year. 

Book with One Author

Author's Last name, First name. Title, Publisher, Date. 

Book With two Authors

1st Author's Last Name, First Name, and 2nd authors first and last name. Title.  Publisher, Date. 

Book with Three or More Authors

1st Author's Last Name, First Name, et al. Title. Publisher, Date. 

Academic Journal accessed through a database

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Name of Journal, Volume, Issue, Date, Pages. Name of Database, DOI or URL. Accessed Day Month Year. 

Magazine Article (Online)

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Name of Magazine, Date on Web, Pages (if any), URL. Accessed Day Month Year. 

Newspaper Accessed through a Database

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Name of Newspaper, Date, Pages. Name of Database. DOI or URL. Accessed Day Month Year. 


Last Name, First Name, role. "Title of Episode." Title of Program, season, episode, Sponsor, Date, URL. Accessed Day Month Year. 


Last Name, First Name, role. Title of Site. Publisher, Date, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.