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How-to: Research Help: Citing Sources

Information on tools and resources available


Referencing is the ethical practice of citing your sources, to let your readers know where you found information or ideas, so they can distinguish it from your own thinking.  

Creating a list of all the information sources used in a research project is the most basic form of referencing.  Such an alphabetical list is called a bibliography or works cited page. 

In the body of your writing, you may also be expected to include citations, showing which source in your bibliography the specific information you're using in the sentence or paragraph came from.  Two common forms of citations are:

  • in-text citations (also known as parenthetical citations)
  • footnotes or endnotes

MLA (short for the Modern Language Association) is the default formatting style for referencing at our school, up through Grade 10.  (IB Diploma students may be told to use other styles, depending on the subject -- check here).

MLA requires inline citations, NOT footnotes.  (Note that footnotes may be used in MLA if you are providing extra or explanatory information, not citations.) 

For more information on MLA, click here.

See also our UWCSEA Research Help guide.

MLA Example

The writing excerpt below uses inline citations to point to information sources taken from the bibliography beneath. 

To Eat Meat or Not?

Americans in 1976 consumed an average of 91.5 pounds of beef per year; today that figure is down to 54 pounds (Kunzig).  The UK is about the same, with an average per person consumption of 56 pounds of red and processed meat annually ("Great Meat"). The health danger with eating red meat comes from the high levels of saturated fat.  Vegetarians may feel virtuous, but they should realize that cheese has higher levels of saturated fat than hamburgers (Smith 54).
There are vigorous debates in the scientific community about how much red meat is bad for your health, but all seem to agree that processed meat (bacon, ham, salami, etc.) is definitely worse than unprocessed ("Great Meat"). 

Works Cited
Kunzig, Robert. "Carnivore’s Dilemma." National Geographic Society, 2014. <>.  Accessed 21 Oct. 2014.
Smith, Janine. The Argument against Beef.  New York: Brand Books, 2012.
"The Great Meat Debate". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation, 17 July 2014. <>.  Accessed 22 Sept. 2014. 

Overview of MLA for High School Students

Useful books

Below are some books in the library on referencing.  Click here for a full list in the catalog.

Selecting a citation tool

Video - Creating a Bibliography (from BrainPop)

This video from BrainPop shows what an MLA bibliography should look like -- and how to format entries for different kinds of sources, e.g., books, articles, websites, encyclopedia entries, etc.  For example, this is how this video would appear in a bibliography:

"Citing Sources." BrainPOP. BrainPOP, Accessed 27 Oct. 2014.

When you're done, be sure to take the BrainPop quiz.

Remember:  all logins/passwords to UWCSEA subscriptions can be found in this Google Doc: 

Guides to MLA

One of the best guides to the MLA style of referencing is the Purdue University OWL site.

Another great university site for examples of MLA style is CitationFox: MLA

The University of Wisconsin Writing Center is also very useful.

Getting started with Zotero