Cite Fright?

As the deadline for final research papers approach, creating bibliographies and managing citations can be scary.   A single resource can be cited multiple ways, depending on the format of the resource, the style guide you are following, and the professor’s individual preference.  Failure to cite correctly can mean a lower grade.  Failure to cite all, can mean an F for plagiarism.  Here are a few tools to help you conquer your citation demons and master the art of creating a bibliography.

1. The Built-in “Cite” Button

ebsco citeMuch like an “Easy” button, these simple tools are built into many of our research databases, including EBSCO and Proquest.  These tools, often embedded into your search results, can provide you with a simple way to create a citation from any resource you find within a database.   If you are in an EBSCO database, look for the “Cite” link in the Tools menu to the right of your research result.  In a Proquest database, select “Citation/Abstract” for access to the “Cite” link.   There’s even citation tools in Credo Reference, Opposing Viewpoints, and LexisNexis Academic. “Cite” links will provide you a choice of citations according to each style guide.  Simply select the appropriate style guide, and then copy and paste the citation for your bibliography.  Since these are machine-generated,  pay special attention to personal names, capitalization, and dates.  These will help you in constructing the resource, but you will still need to verify it is correctly formatted.

2. The OWL at Purdue

The Online Writing Center at Purdue has a long history of providing comprehensive assistance in APA, MLA, and Chicago style citations and research paper guidelines.  The OWL provides examples of citations in various formats, and it can serve as a quick, online reference tool to help you create accurate citations.  Hosted by the Writing Center at Purdue, the site is free to use and also includes general resources on writing.

3. KnightCite

This tool, created by a student of Calvin College, generates a citation based on the information you provide it and the style guide you wish to use.  Once you fill out the online form with title, authors, and other information, it will supply you with the citation formatted according to the latest version of APA, MLA, or Chicago.  This tool is free to use, but it will only generate the formatted citation for a bibliography or works cited page.  It cannot generate in-text citations or footnotes.


4. Style Guides

If you prefer to go straight to the authoritative style guides, the Library carries the latest editions of each of the major style guides.  These are available at the Reference Desk.

5. Your Professor

As authoritative as the above resources may be, nothing tops the guidelines your professor may have set forth for your particular class or assignment.  Some instructors establish their own rules for how citations should look, or they may require you to use a style guide other than MLA, APA, or Chicago.  Be sure to check your syllabus or assignment instructions for guidelines specific to your class.

If you have more questions, contact your stylish librarians at  Don’t fear the bibliography and good luck on finals!