Important Reasons for Citation and How to Properly Cite Your Sources

Why do we have to cite our sources? 

While to many academics, researchers, and writers this seems like one of the most obvious questions, it’s still a question that many people ask. 

Plus, aside from asking why citation is necessary in the first place, many people also wonder how to cite a book with 2 authors, how to cite a book with multiple authors APA, how to cite a book with multiple authors MLA, and so on. 

In this article, we discuss the importance of citation, what kind of information needs to be cited, and the proper procedures to cite books with multiple authors in different formats. 

Why is Citation Important?

Citations aren’t used simply to avoid plagiarism; they have other important roles too. Below, we list down 3 reasons why citation is important. 

  1. Citation helps you avoid plagiarism.

Proper citation is crucial to avoid plagiarism in your writing. Not citing your sources properly could imply that the information and ideas you are using are your own, when they actually came from another author. Plagiarism doesn’t just mean copy pasting another author or researcher’s words. Plagiarism can also occur when authors paraphrase a source incorrectly, don’t include enough citations for paraphrased information, don’t use quotation marks, or direct copy and paste from a source without quotation marks or citations. 

  1. Citation allows you to give credit where credit is due.

Citation is all about giving credit where credit is due. For instance, by citing the work of a particular researcher, you recognize and respect the intellectual property rights of that individual. 

Essentially, citation is a way to pay a small token to the original creators whose work yours is built in part upon. This not only encourages your readers to also check out their work, possibly giving some extra attention to them, but also shows an acknowledgement and respect of their efforts. Even if no one clicks the link or reads the article you’ve cited, at the very least, you’ve shown appreciation and given credit to the hard work of the people behind what you’ve cited. 

  1. Citation can help you support the claims and assertions you make.

Citing your sources is a great way to provide evidence to support the claims and assertions that you make. By citing credible sources, you are showing your readers that you are aware of the field in which you are operating. When used appropriately, citations can provide hard evidence of original ideas and furthering an author’s point. 

What Needs to Be Cited?

A common mistake among authors is a lack of citations, citing too many items, or inaccurate citations. So, what needs to be cited? 

Authors need to cite every fact that isn’t common knowledge, even if they paraphrase it in their own writing. Theories, opinions, and ideas from other publications must also be cited in reference books, as well as a direct quote from someone. 

Citations depend on the publisher’s style guidelines, but can include author(s) names, journals or articles, title of books, page numbers, date of publication, and issue or volume numbers if applicable. To properly cite another person’s work and acknowledge their findings, authors must pay careful to attention. Failure to properly cite your sources may ruin the reputation of your work and lead to plagiarism issues. 

Printed books aren’t the only sources that require acknowledgement. Any information, ideas, or words taken from ANY source needs a reference. 

Proper citation is necessary when you are using information, ideas, or words from:

  • Books
  • Journal Articles
  • Magazines and Newspapers
  • Brochures or Pamphlets
  • Personal Interviews
  • TV Programs, Documentaries, and Films
  • Letters and Emails 

You don’t need to cite common knowledge. What is common knowledge? If information is known by everyone or nearly everyone, it may be considered ‘common knowledge,’ and doesn’t need to be cited. Some examples of common knowledge include, ‘January is the first month of the year’, ‘The Titanic was a ship that sank on its first voyage’, ‘Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States’, etc. 

It’s not always clear what ‘common knowledge’ is. If the information is found in general references and if most people are familiar with it, it may be considered common knowledge. 

What’s Involved in Proper Citation?

In most citation styles, two parts are necessary:

  • An in-text citation. When you reference the work of another person, you have to indicate within the text where you got that specific information. The in-text citation provides a brief reference and points your reader to the full citation.
  • A list of works used. The final page of your paper is typically a list of resources you consulted or cited. 

What Citation Styles Should You Use?

Different academic disciplines prefer different citation styles. Two of the most common citation styles are APA Style and MLA Style. 

  • APA Style. The APA Style was developed by the American Psychological Association and is mainly utilized by scholars and researchers in the social sciences. Disciplines that might use APA Style include:
  • Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology
  • Political Science
  • Education
  • History
  • Linguistics
  • Women’s Studies
  • Archaeology
  • MLA Style. The MLA Style was developed by the Modern Language Association and is mainly utilized by scholars and researchers in the liberal arts. Disciplines that might use MLA Style include: 
  • Art
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Drama
  • History
  • Women’s Studies
  • Religious Studies

Aside from APA and MLA, other citation styles also exist. This includes Chicago, ACS (American Chemical Society), American Anthropological Association (AAA), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and more. 

How to Cite A Book with Two Authors

To cite works by two authors, make sure to list the last names and first initials separated by an ampersand. These names must be followed by the date of publication, enclosed in parentheses. 

If you are citing a journal article, make sure to include the title of the article immediately following the publication date. The title of the journal or book must then be listed in italics. If you are citing a journal article, make sure to provide the page numbers, issue number, and volume number. For books, list the name of the publisher. 

Example of a citation with two authors:

Buss, A. H., & Pomin, R. (1975). A temperament theory of personality development. Erlbaum.

Or

Sillick, T. J., & Schutte, N. S. (2006). Emotional intelligence and self-esteem mediate between perceived early parental love and adult happiness. E-Journal of Applied Psychology, 2(2), 38-48. Retrieved from http://ojs.lib.swin.edu.au/index.php/ejap

How to Cite a Book with Two Authors APA Style

Citing a book in APA style always includes the author(s) name, the year of publication, the book title, and the publisher. 

In the reference list, start with the author’s last name and initials, followed by the year of publication. The book title is written in sentence case – only capitalize the first word and any proper nouns. Include other contributors (i.e. translators and editors) and the edition of specified. 

Example citation of a book with two authors APA style:

Smith, T., & Williams, B. M. (2019). The citation manual for students: A quick guide. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

How to Cite a Book with Two Authors MLA Style

Citing a book in MLA style always includes the author(s) names, title, publisher, and the year of publication. If relevant, include the names of any translators or edits, the volume, and the edition number. 

Example citation of a book with two authors MLA style:

Swaen, Bas, and Tim Smith. Citing Sources and Referencing: A Quick Guide. Scribbr, 2019.

How to Cite a Book with Multiple Authors

Works multiple authors (2 to 20 authors, or more) should list the names and first initial of each author, separated by an ampersand. Author names must be followed by the date of publication enclosed in parentheses. 

If you are citing a journal article, make sure to include the title of the article immediately following the publication date. The title of the journal or book must then be listed in italics. If you are citing a journal article, make sure to provide the page numbers, issue number, and volume number. For books, list the name of the publisher. 

Example of a citation with multiple authors (but less than 20): 

Abma, J. C., Chandra, A., Mosher, W. D., Peterson, L. S., & Piccinino, L. J. (1997). Fertility, family planning, and women’s health: New data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital and Health Statistics, 23(9), 1-67. 

When the work you are citing has 21 or more authors, include only the first 19 names, and ellipsis, and the final name. The remainder of the citation follows the same format as that for 20 or fewer authors. Author last names and initials are immediately followed by the date of publication, enclosed in parentheses. The name of the article is listed after the publication date. The title of the book or journal title must be provided in italics. The page number, issue number, and volume number must follow journal titles, while book titles must be followed by the publisher’s name.

Example of a citation with more than 20 authors: 

Wiskunde, B., Arslan, M., Fischer, P., Nowak, L., Van den Berg, O., Coetzee, L., Juárez, U., Riyaziyyat, E., Wang, C., Zhang, I., Li, P., Yang, R., Kumar, B., Xu, A., Martinez, R., McIntosh, V., Ibáñez, L. M., Mäkinen, G., Virtanen, E., . . . Kovács, A. (2019). Indie pop rocks mathematics: Twenty One Pilots, Nicolas Bourbaki, and the empty set. Journal of Improbable Mathematics, 27(1), 1935–1968. https://doi.org/10.0000/3mp7y-537

Conclusion

Citation is important for a variety of reasons. Proper citation can help you avoid plagiarism issues, it allows you to give credit where credit is due, and it helps you support the claims and assertions you make.

Different academic disciplines prefer different citation styles. Two of the most common citation styles are APA Style and MLA Style. Aside from APA and MLA, other citation styles also exist. This includes Chicago, ACS (American Chemical Society), American Anthropological Association (AAA), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and more. The citation style that you choose depends entirely on your publisher’s requirements.

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