Citing Texts Properly, and the Works Cited Page

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Students should follow the Chicago Manual of Style‘s Author-Date citation format, where in-text citations take the format (lastname publicationyear, pagenumbers). This link also gives examples of how several different kinds of texts should be listed on a works cited page.

Citing modern texts

Use this in-text format in your own paper. Here are a couple of illustrative examples of how to do this properly with modern texts. Note where the punctuation marks are placed, which I’ve boldfaced in red for you.

  • If you’re quoting a text directly, the in-text citation should look like this:

Philosopher D. R. Koukal writes that In recent years the city of Detroit has become home to many large and informally organized bicycle rides comprised of anywhere from dozens to hundreds of bicyclists (Koukal 2020, 716).

  • If you’re paraphrasing an idea from a text but not quoting it directly, the in-text citation should look like this, especially if you want to avoid a charge of plagiarism:

He argues that in such cities any plan for re-urbanization must reimagine both transportation schemas and public space on terrain once dominated by the automobile (Koukal 2020, 716).

  • If you consecutively cite the same source two or more times, you may use the word “Ibid” (short for the Latin ibidem, which means “in the same place”) instead of the author’s name and publication year:

Koukal claims that his intention is to use his analysis in a way that reveals the larger sense and significance of Detroits robust biking culture, and how it is enabling a reconstitution of place(Ibid., 716).

Citing classical texts

ewc_04h“Classical” texts are so canonical in a given culture that they have earned their own special reference format. Besides the fact that such texts have become so authoritative, many of them were organized in such a way by their authors or ancient editors (e.g., by “book,” chapter, section or paragraph numbers, etc.) that over time this has become the standard way of referencing such works. Furthermore, there have been so many translations of these works over the centuries that the only way to make accurate references across all of these different editions is by referring to the organizing principles they have come to have in common. Try to imagine citing the Bible by its various translations, without referring to book, chapter, and verse, and you’ll start to see the problem.

  • For example, a direct quotation from Plato’s dialogue Euthyphro should be comprised of the name of the dialogue followed by what is called the Stephanus number. Again, take note of the punctuation in red:

Then what are we to say about the holy, Euthyphro? According to your argument, is it not loved by all the gods? (Euthyphro 10d).

  • Subsequent citations would abbreviate the title of the dialogue:

Well, then, is all justice holy too? Or, granted that all holiness is just, is not all justice holy, but some part of it is holy, and some part of it is not? (Euth. 11e-12a).

The works of Aristotle, Homer, and other classical Greek and Latin sources, as well as the Bible and the Koran, also have their own special reference formats. Paper assignments will typically indicate what sort of citation format—modern or classical—you should use. If you have questions about what format to use, just ask!

The works cited page

The works cited page is a list of all the sources cited within the body and notes of your paper. A works cited page should begin on its own page after the end of the paper content and should list all the entries in alphabetical order by the first item in each entry (usually the author’s name). It should be included in order to give full credit to the sources used and avoid plagiarism, as well as to allow the reader to easily locate each source if needed. This link gives examples of how several different kinds of texts should be listed on a works cited page, which when finished should look something like this.

A word of caution

Sometimes on the works cited page students mistakenly list translators or editors as authors. For example, G.M.A. Grube is a famous translator of Plato’s works—but he is not the author, Plato. Similarly, Edwin Curley is an editor of Hobbes’s Leviathan, but he is not Hobbes. Editors and translators should never be listed as the author of a work.

© D. R. Koukal