So You Have to Cite Your Paper
You might find yourself wondering what in the world "citation" is, how "style" has anything to do with it, and why your two professors are making your cite your work in two completely different ways. Depending on your earlier education, you might be an expert at one or two styles of citation, or you might have never used a citation style in your life. Either way, the information needed to correctly and clearly cite information in your work is readily available to you. Today, there is no need to memorize how to cite every style of resource you may come across. In most cases, you can follow along with an online or print guide (and to be honest, even expert academics still have to follow citation manuals most of the time). This guide is designed to help you, first and foremost, to cite your work. For an in-depth look at the most common citation styles (APA, MLA, and Chicago) follow the tabs on the side.
Your Top Citation Questions Answered:
Q: Why do you I have to cite my sources? It's not like my professor is going to check them anyway.
A: Making stuff up is bad, and not being able to trace evidence severely weakens the credibility of your argument. Also, taking the risk that your professor won't check your sources is just that: a risk. You might get away with it, but if you get caught you could face serious repercussions that could end up more painful than just citing the sources in the first place.
Q: Why do I have to cite things in the (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) style?
A: Well, the first reason is because you've probably been asked to by your professor and you want to do well on the assignment. Besides that, the style usually fits the class and project. MLA style gives preference to author and text, which is important in literature and related studies. In the social sciences, date of publication is important as new information can quickly replace the old, so APA style puts the date in the forefront. The different styles developed to fit different writing needs.
Q: What happens if I can't find all of the information to cite this tweet by Beyonce?
A: Sometimes it can be hard to cite new media, especially if the guidelines aren't as clear as they would be for a more traditional source like a book or article. Luckily, most style guides now have specific guidelines for citing new media like tweets, although some sources are still unclear. To be safe, follow the closest style you can find. To be super safe, talk to your professor. Ask them specifically how they want the information cited. In most cases, they will be more lenient on a newer style source, as long as the information in your works cited page still gives all the necessary information (author, location, date, etc.)