What is the ASA Citation Style?

The ASA format is a citation style that has been widely adopted by the community of writers, researchers, publishers, and students who contribute scholarly papers to the field of sociology. It is used by sociologists to credit other people’s words, ideas and theories utilized in their written work in a systematic and consistent manner.

It is a parenthetical referencing style that adopts the author-date documentation system. This is an attractive format for sociologists because the absence of distracting footnotes makes it a highly economical and efficient way of citing. It consists of:

    • In-text citations, which are inserted near the source and encloses both the author’s surname and the year of publication in parentheses
    • A ‘References’ section at the end of the paper that lists all of the sources cited in your work, and includes full publication information for each

In short, an ASA in-text citation is used to draw the reader’s attention to where you have quoted or paraphrased a source within the text. The citation includes the name of the author, publication date of the source and, where needed, the page numbers, for example: (Woolf, 2007). Subsequent references to the same source are still listed parenthetically by author and year.

Each in-text citation must link to a reference list entry, and its purpose is to direct your reader there. Your reference list is an alphabetized list of fully-formatted citations, which will provide all of the information needed for your reader to locate the original source. The emphasis on dates is carried over to the reference list, where the publication date is the first piece of information after the author’s name.

The format has many similarities to both the APA (American Psychological Association) style and the Chicago citation style; both in appearance and function. However, there are some key differences so it is essential that you follow the ASA Style Guide. The guide was primarily designed by the American Sociological Association to assist authors submitting articles to their journals, but it is now used by those preparing theses, dissertations, and other research papers.

The style is supported by Cite This For Me’s citation management tool; making the ASA formatting of your in-text citations and reference list a straightforward task.

Cite This For Me’s Citation Generator & Guide

Here at Cite This For Me we are committed to educating students in excellent citing practice. This style guide has been written to support anyone who is using the ASA style to cite their essay, research paper, or journal article. It provides clear, useful guidance that covers in-text citations, the reference list, manuscript formatting, and much more. Referring to this style sheet will ensure you achieve consistency across your work, taking you one step further to getting the result that you deserve after all your hard work.

Looking for a citation tool to save you time? Our open-access citation generator does just that, leaving you more time to spend on actually writing your paper. You can format ASA citations quickly, simply and smartly in the version of the style recognized by your institution using our multi-platform tool.

Do you need to cite a research paper using MLA formatting? Or has your professor asked you to use the APA citation format? You may be looking to instantly cite in the Chicago citation style, or just need to read up on how to create IEEE or AMA citations… There are thousands of referencing styles in use today, and the one that you need will depend on your discipline, college, professor, or the publication you are writing for. Whichever style you need, visit Cite This For Me’s website to select from 1,000+ citation styles, including college variations of each. Simply sign up to Cite This For Me for free, log-in to your account, and set your institution in ‘My Profile’.

Check with your institution to find out which they want and make sure you follow their requirements exactly, as it’s what you’ll be marked on.

Continue reading this guide for practical advice and examples that will help you create each citation with ease. For more information on the mechanics of the style, in-depth guidance on the required writing style and further examples, we encourage you to refer to the complete ASA Style Guide (5th Edition).

How do I Create and Format an In-text Citation?

The ASA citation format follows the author-date system adopted by The Chicago Manual of Style: a brief in-text citation is inserted wherever a source is cited, and a complete list of references is included at the end of the paper.

The use of in-text citations enables you to integrate source material into your work with ease, allowing you to effectively link your own ideas with those of other authors without interrupting the flow of your paper. Remember that in-text citations are included in your final word count.

Each in-text citation encloses the author’s last name and the year the source was published in parentheses, and is generally placed at the end of the sentence – or as close to the source as possible – between the last word and the period. Read more about creating your in-text citations on this quick tips style sheet. It is essential that you cite each reference to another publication completely and accurately within the body of your work in order to avoid plagiarism.

Once you have created and formatted an ASA in-text citation, we recommend checking it against the following list of examples for guaranteed accuracy:

    • If the author’s name is mentioned in the text, insert a parenthetical citation including the year of publication at the end of the sentence

…Welch contends that this is not the case (1991).

    • If the author’s name is not mentioned in the text, enclose the author’s last name and year of publication in parentheses

…but it has been argued that this was not the case (Welch 1991).

    • Include page numbers within the citation when quoting directly from a source or referring to specific passages; pagination is separated by a colon and no spaces

As tabulated by Kuhn (1970:71) the results show…

NB. This is now the preferred method; previous forms such as (Kuhn 1970, p. 71) are no longer accepted

    • The following forms should be used for multiple authors:

A recent study confirmed her belief (Johnson and Smith 1995:34).

This was reinforced by recent research on the topic (Johnson, Smith, and Marcus 1999)

    • If a work has three authors, cite all three last names in the first in-text citation; thereafter, use et al.*:

First citation for a work with three authors: (Carr, Smith, and Jones 1962)

Later: (Carr et al. 1962)

*The Latin phrase ‘et al.’ translates as ‘and others’; it is widely adopted by different citation styles in order to abbreviate long lists of author names within in-text citations. The term should never be used in a reference list, and should not be italicized.

    • If a work has more than three authors, use “et al.” in the first ASA in-text citation, and in all subsequent citations

This was not accurate according to a recent study (Johnson et al. 2003).

    • If multiple sources are cited for the same statement, the author and publication year should be distinguished from other texts with a semicolon. List the series in alphabetical or chronological order; this should be consistent throughout the paper

Some studies have refuted these arguments (Benson 1993; Nguyen 1999; Brown and Goggans 2000).

    • If a work cited has been reprinted, list the earliest publication date in brackets, followed by the most recent publication date

… affected the aged (Omran [1971] 2005).

    • For unpublished materials, use ‘forthcoming’ to indicate material scheduled for publication. For dissertations and unpublished papers, cite the date. If no date is available, use N.d. (no date) in place of the date

Previous studies by Smith (forthcoming) and Jones (N.d.) concluded…

    • For National Archives or other archival sources, use abbreviated citations in the text

… (NA, RG 381, Box 780, April 28, 1965; Meany Archives, LRF, Box 6, March 18, 1970).

If you are citing an e-resource it will generally follow the preceding guidelines, but you can find specific information in this guide’s section on: ‘Guidelines and Examples for Citing Electronic Resources’.

Running out of time before a deadline? Creating each in-text citation by hand can be time-consuming. Don’t forget, Cite This For Me’s intuitive ASA citation machine will automate the citing process for you.

Creating My Reference List

As well as inserting in-text citations within the main body of your work, you will need to provide a comprehensive reference list that details exactly which sources you have drawn upon in your research and writing process. Ultimately, a full and accurate reference list is essential because it allows your reader to easily locate and verify the source material you have used.

Each parenthetical citation in the text must have a corresponding reference list entry, and vice versa. Remember to double-check that none of your citations are missing from your reference list.

These ASA formatting guidelines will help you compile your reference list:

    • A reference list follows the text and footnotes on a separate page headed ‘References’ – use the first-level head format for the heading
    • List all citations in alphabetical order by the first author’s last name
    • Include the first names for all authors rather than their initials – unless the author used their initials in the original publication; in these cases, add a space between the initials
    • Citations should be double-spaced, with double line spacing between each entry
    • Do not use the ampersand (&) for and when including two names in a citation
    • Add a comma between two or more author names – this is an update in the 5th edition of the style guide
    • Capitalize all words except prepositions (e.g., of, between, through), articles (e.g., a, the, an) and conjunctions (e.g. but, and, or) – only capitalize these exceptions if they begin the title or subtitle
    • When including more than one work by the same author, include their full name in each citation – arrange these citations in chronological order, beginning with the earliest work
    • If an author features in both a single-authored citation and as the first author in a multi-authored citation, place all of the single-authored ASA citations first, even though this may not be chronological


Hoge, Dean R. 1979. “A Test of Theories of Denominational Growth and Decline.” Pp. 179-197 in Understanding Church Growth and Decline 1950-1978, edited by D. R. Hoge and D. A. Roozen. New York and Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press.

Hoge, Dean R., Benton Johnson, and Donald A. Luidens. 1994. Vanishing Boundaries: The Religion of Mainline Baby Boomers. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

    • For multiple authors, invert only the first author’s last name (Jones, Arthur B., Colin D. Smith, and James Petersen) – list in alphabetical order by author’s last name
    • Do not use ‘et al.’ in the reference list, unless the work was authored by a committee
    • Distinguish works by the same author(s) in the same year by adding letters to the year (2002a, 2002b, 2002c) – list such works in alphabetical order by title


Horwitz, Allan V. 2002a. Creating Mental Illness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Horwitz, Allan V. 2002b. “The Measurement of Mental Health Outcomes: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 43(2):143-51.

    • Include the state abbreviation only if city of publication is not clear. For example, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles do not need a state abbreviation. However, Cambridge should be followed by an appropriate state abbreviation or country name.
    • If no date is available, use N.d. in place of the date. If the cited material is unpublished but has been accepted for publication, use Forthcoming in place of the date and give the name of the publisher or journal

Depending on the nature of your work, and the preference of your tutor or publication to whom you are submitting your work, you may need to include a bibliography as well as a reference list. For instance, if you are preparing a book-length manuscript it will add value to include a list of every relevant source you consulted whilst researching your topic.

The examples that follow demonstrate common usages of different source types; adhere to these when creating your own reference list:

Book with one author.

Author’s full name (inverted so that last name appears first). Year of publication. Name of Publication (italicized). Location of publisher, state, or province postal code (or name of country if a foreign publisher): Publisher’s Name.

King, Mary E. 2007. A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance. New York: Nation Books.

Book with two or more authors.

Author1 (last name inverted), Author2 (including full surname, last name is not inverted), and Author3. Year of publication. Name of Publication (italicized). Location of publisher, state, or province postal code (or name of country if a foreign publisher): Publisher’s Name.

Note: When there are only two authors or editors, add a comma after the name of the first author or editor (change in the 5th edition of the style guide).

Edin, Kathryn, and Maria Kefalas. 2005. Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Journal Articles.

Author1 (last name inverted), Author2 (including full surname, last name is not inverted), and Author3. Year of publication. “Title of Article.” Name of Publication (italicized) Volume Number(Issue Number):page numbers of article.

Colen, Cynthia G. 2011. “Addressing Racial Disparities in Health Using Life Course Perspectives.” Du Bois Review 8(1):79-94.

Coe, Deborah L., and James D. Davidson. 2011. “The Origins of Legacy Admissions: A Sociological Explanation.” Review of Religious Research 52(3):233-47.

Note: These examples include the issue number after the volume number of the journal; issue numbers should be included in ASA citations to make the source easier to locate. If issue numbers are used, they should be used throughout the reference list.

Chapters in Books or Other Collected Works.

Author1 (last name inverted), Author2 (including full surname, last name is not inverted), and Author3. Year of publication. “Title of article.” Pp. (with page numbers, elided) in Name of Publication (italicized), edited by Editor1, Editor2, and Editor3 (use editors’ initials only for first/middle names, names not inverted). Location of publisher, state, or province postal code (or name of country if a foreign publisher): Publisher’s Name.

Montez, Jennifer K., and Mark D. Hayward. 2011. “Early Life Conditions and Later Life Mortality.” Pp. 187-206 in International Handbook of Adult Mortality, edited by R. G. Rogers and E. Crimmins. New York: Springer Publishers.

Archival Sources.

George Meany Memorial Archives, Legislature Reference Files, Box 6. March 18, 1970. File: 20. Memo, Conference with Gloster Current, Director of Organization, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Looking to cite another source type? Check out Section in the ASA Style Guide: ‘Other Types of Reference Material’ for guidelines and examples on how to cite other types of documents. For instance; major reference books, dissertations and theses, unpublished papers magazine articles, book reviews and other peer-reviewed material, translations, government documents and presentations. You can read more about creating a reference list on Bucknell University’s website.

It is a common mistake to leave your reference list until the very last minute, but Cite This For Me’s ASA citation machine will accurately write your entire list in just a few minutes. Your reference list is then stored in the cloud, ready for you to access online and copy straight into your work.

Guidelines and Examples for Citing Electronic Resources

The publishing industry has continuously shifted and evolved in recent years, largely due to the emergence and integration of the internet and a diverse range of electronic resources. This has created new challenges for citation styles, and basic guidelines have now emerged in order to enable writers to document these new source types in their written work. The ASA style has based its guidelines for citing e-resources on The Chicago Manual of Style; find more information here.

Across all sociological disciplines, writers and researchers draw from a huge variety of online source types to support their own ideas; from websites and e-zines, to blogs, electronic mailing lists, machine-readable data files (MRDF), CD-ROM, DVD, and social media channels. There are a few points to bear in mind when citing e-resources:

    • Include all of the basic elements of source information in the citation so that the reader can access the material with ease
    • Sources that are unlikely to change (e.g. those in PDF or TIFF form, those accessed through JSTOR, exact replicas of the print version) should be cited in print-form
    • Ensure that the source you are using will be accessible to your reader (e.g., look out for subscription based databases, access time limits and legal restrictions)
    • Whenever possible include the author’s name, document title, date of publication (or retrieval date), and an address (e.g., URL or DOI)

How do I Use a URL to Cite a Source?

The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is crucial for locating an online document. However, websites can be regularly modified, updated, redesigned, or even removed, so it is crucial that you follow these steps when including a URL in your ASA citations.

  • Be sure to carefully check the spelling of a URL so that the source is accurately identified
  • Avoid citing a source with a URL that no longer exists
  • Do not type the URL address; copy and paste it directly from your browser into your work
  • Print and save the data obtained from a URL in case the URL is modified and the information is lost
  • If the URL has expired and you still need to cite the source, cite it as an unpublished paper in an archived collection

Keep reading for a detailed list of examples that show you how best to cite electronic sources.


  • If an e-book was consulted online, omit page numbers and include the URL and date of access
  • If an e-book is available in more than one format, other formats may be listed as well – end the citation with: (Also available at: [insert URL])

Young, T. R. 1989. Crime and Social Justice: Theory and Policy for the 21st Century. Red Feather Institute. Retrieved June 22, 2010 (http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/Red_FEATHER/crime/001contents.html).

Printed edition of a book accessed through an online library.

Daniels, John. 2010. Apathetic College Students in America. Middletown, IL: University of Middletown Press. Retrieved April 6, 2011 (http://site.ebrary.com/lib/collegestudies/docDetail.action?docID=1010101010).

Online periodicals available in print & online form.

Scott, Lionel D., Jr., and Laura E. House. 2005. “Relationship of Distress and Perceived Control to Coping with Perceived Racial Discrimination among Black Youth.” Journal of Black Psychology 31(3):254-72.

Journal articles (e-journals) with Digital Object Identifier (DOI).

  • A DOI is a unique alphanumeric string assigned to a publication or other unit of intellectual property. As a digital identifier it provides a means of looking up the current location of the source on the internet
  • When a DOI is included, it should be cut and pasted directly from the article

Persell, Caroline Hodges, Kathryn M. Pfeiffer, and Ali Syed. 2008. “How Sociological Leaders Teach: Some Key Principles.” Teaching Sociology 36(2):108-24. doi:10.1177/0092055X0803600202.


  • As a general rule, if the website contains data or evidence essential to a point being addressed in the manuscript, it should be formally cited with the URL and date of access

Document retrieved from an institution with a known location.

Text: (ASA 2006)

Citation: American Sociological Association. 2006. “Status Committees.” Washington, DC: American Sociological Association. Retrieved July 11, 2010 (http://www.asanet.org/about/committes.cfm).

Document retrieved from a corporate website (unknown location).

Text: (IBM 2009)

Citation: IBM. 2009. “2009 Annual Report.” Retrieved July 25, 2014 (http://www.ibm.com/annualreport/2009/2009_ibm_annual.pdf).

Social Media Sources.

  • When referring to a particular social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) posting within the text, it should be accompanied by a footnote in the main body of text rather than included in the reference list
  • The footnote must include the page’s title, date accessed, and the URL

Text: The American Sociological Association mentioned the meeting directly on its Facebook page.1

Footnote: 1. American Sociological Association’s Facebook page, accessed June 6, 2014, http://www.facebook.com/AmericanSociologicalAssociation/posts/10154176262000165.

Examples of how to cite a web log entry (also known as “blogs”), e-mail message, items in online databases, machine-readable data files and audiovisual materials (e.g., CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, podcast, PowerPoint presentation and sound recordings etc.) can be found in Section 5: Guidelines for Using Electronic Resources in the 5th edition of the ASA Style Guide.

ASA Formatting Rules

The ASA Style Guide outlines a rigorous set of rules for organizing and presenting content in manuscripts and articles. It is crucial that you adhere to the style requirements, so make sure that your work is formatted in line with what is expected or you could be penalized.

The style requires that the following pages are included when you submit your manuscript:

1. Title Page

  • Includes the full title of your paper, the author name(s), the author’s institution(s), a running head*, the total word count (including ASA citations and footnotes), and a title footnote
  • An asterisk (*) after the title refers the reader to a title footnote at the bottom of the title page. This must include the name and address of the corresponding author, additional acknowledgments (usually not necessary for papers submitted in a sociology class), and grant numbers

*A Running Head is simply a shortened version of the work’s title (no more than 50 characters); this gives an idea of what your paper is about and helps to identify the pages of your paper so they are kept together. It should be titled ‘Running head’ and appear in uppercase letters at the top left of each page.

Example of title page (American Sociological Association, p. 90):

Running Head

Full Title of the Article:
Capitalize Subtitle After Colon*

Author’s Full Name
Author’s Full Name

Word Count = Text, Footnotes, and References

*Title footnote

2. Abstract

    • Your abstract should begin on a separate page after the title page, and you should use your work’s title as the heading
    • Do not include the author’s name for anonymity purposes
    • Essentially, an abstract is a brief (no more than 200 words) description that summarizes the key points you cover in your paper
    • Ensure that the language is readily comprehensible and jargon-free

3. Keywords

    • Select 3 – 5 keywords that highlight the primary themes you have approached in your work

4. Text

    • Begin the main body of text on a new page that is headed by the work’s title
    • Omit any form of author identification throughout the text
    • Use 12-point Arial and double-space all text (including ASA citations, footnotes, and endnotes)
    • Margins need to be at least 1 ¼ inches on all sides
    • Pages should be numbered sequentially, from the title page to the reference list

5. Footnotes and Endnotes

    • Place footnotes and endnotes in a separate section following the text
    • You should only add footnotes or endnotes where absolutely necessary because they can distract your reader; it is recommended that they are limited to less than 100 words
    • Use them to expand further on the text, cite materials of limited availability, or to add additional information to a table
    • Do not use both footnotes and endnotes, stick to one or the other throughout your work
    • Indicate every footnote with a superscript Arabic numeral to which it is keyed in the main body of text
    • Footnotes should be numbered consecutively and double-spaced at the bottom of the page
    • To refer to a footnote again later in the text, insert a parenthetical note: e.g., (see note 5)
    • Include endnotes in a separate section titled Notes or Endnotes
    • Read more about footnotes here

6. Appendixes

  • This is your chance to add any supplementary, supporting material to the end of your work – generally explanatory, statistical, or bibliographic
  • Consider adding an appendix as an alternative to a footnote or endnote
  • If you are only including one appendix, title it Appendix. Multiple appendixes should be lettered (e.g., Appendix A, Appendix B) to differentiate them from numbered figures and tables

7. Tables, Figures, and Graphic Materials


  • Accompany each with a descriptive title so that the reader does not need to refer to the main body of text in order to understand it
  • Tables should be numbered consecutively throughout the text, and each should be included on a separate page at the end of the paper
  • Left-justify title above the table
  • Include headings for all columns and rows, and use subheadings to separate different sections or clarify categories
  • Gather general notes on the table under Notes or Sources beneath the table – use a, b, c etc. to add explanatory footnotes to the table, and list full citations for each data source in the reference list
  • All text and data should fit vertically across two columns

Find further details on the presentation of tables, alongside some demonstrative examples, in 4.8.1 (p. 64) in the ASA Style Guide.

Figures, Illustrations, and Photographs

  • Visual art should only be included when it significantly contributes to the reader’s understanding of the paper – consider how much value a figure adds before including it in your work
  • Number them consecutively throughout, and accompany each with a title and clear label
  • Left-justify each figure caption and place below the figure
  • Submit high-resolution images electronically in a single file
  • Use black-and-white figures unless it affects clarity
  • You must secure permission to publish a copyrighted figure, illustration or photograph

More information on formatting graphs, charts, images and much more, can be found in Section 6: ‘Preparing and Submitting a Manuscript to an ASA Journal’ of the ASA Style Guide.


  • Use subheadings to organize the main body of text – for a full-length article, three subheadings should suffice


  • Capitalize the whole heading, left-justify, and don’t use a bold font
  • Some journals do not indent the paragraph immediately following a first-level head

This is a Second-Level Head

  • Italicize, left-justify, and don’t use a bold font
  • Capitalize all words except prepositions (of, into, between, through), articles (a, an, the), and coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or)
  • Some journals do not indent the paragraph immediately following a second-level head

This is a third-level head.

  • Italicize, left-justify, and don’t use a bold font
  • Indent at the beginning of the paragraph, and follow with a period
  • The paragraph continues immediately after the period
  • Capitalize only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns

Further ASA Formatting Guidelines:

  • All text, tables and figures should be typeset and sized to fit the journal page dimension (smaller than regular letter-sized 8.5” by 11” paper)
  • When figures are sized down to fit on the page, all text in the figure must not be smaller than 8-point Arial font
  • Block quotes may be single-spaced
  • Avoid using space bars or indents to align the text or create hanging indents
  • Use a hard return after the title of the article, the running head, and every paragraph, text heading, page heading, reference, and footnote

Clearly and consistently presenting your work according to the style requirements will improve its readability and add to its overall professional finish.

A Brief History of the Style

The American Sociological Association was founded in 1905 and remains to this day the main scholarly organization for academic sociologists in the United States. The nonprofit membership association is committed to supporting sociologists across the world and promoting their contribution to society. The association largely disseminates sociological knowledge through its scholarly publications. The official journals are the American Sociological Review (ASR), which publishes high quality original work from sociologists, and Contemporary Sociology (CS), which prints reviews and critical discussions about contemporary work.

Without a unified citation and writing style, authors submitting to ASA publications were largely uninformed about style requirements. There was widespread confusion amongst authors as to what the style actually entailed; this largely stemmed from its similarities with both The Chicago Manual of Style and the American Psychological Association style. In 1991 it was agreed that these issues needed to be tackled by offering authors and editors a set of formal style rules that specified both writing style and formatting standards.

The first American Sociological Association Style Guide was published in 1996, with the hope of aiding those authors preparing manuscripts for journals as well as those adopting the ASA citation style. The guide has evolved over the years to incorporate style revisions and guidelines for citing electronic sources. The extensive ASA Style Guide outlines the structure and format of in-text citations, footnotes and reference lists. For instance, the 3rd edition expanded the guidelines on citing electronic publication sources, as well as providing illustrative examples. The 4th edition covered updates on online manuscript submission and changes made to citation formatting.

The latest edition of the guide, and the one on which this style sheet is based, is the 5th edition. This edition has been updated to provide further information on grammar and writing style requirements, revisions to citation formatting, and expanded details on citing new sources such as social media channels.

There have been two noteworthy changes made in the 5th edition:

    • Author citation – when a citation has two authors, a comma must now follow the first author’s last name
    • Issue number – it is recommended that you include the issue number when citing a journal article to make it easier for your reader to locate the source

The ASA Style Guide is the definitive point of reference for all those that are writing, submitting, and editing manuscripts for ASA journals. For more guidance, visit their online resource – click on ‘Research & Publications’ followed by ‘Journals’ in order to find helpful writing tips.

Why is Citing Important?

Cite This For Me aims to empower students by elevating their research to the next level and educating them in how to avoid plagiarism. We know that citing can be time-consuming and confusing, but it can mean the difference between reaching your scholarly goals and damaging your reputation amongst other academics.

The ASA citation format is dedicated to complete and accurate author accreditation, and sets out its ethos in the ASA Code of Ethics section 14:

(a) In publications, presentations, teaching, practice, and service, sociologists explicitly identify credit, and reference the author when they take data or material verbatim from another person’s written work, whether it is published, unpublished, or electronically available.

(b) In their publications, presentations, teaching, practice, and service, sociologists provide acknowledgment of and reference to the use of other’s work, even if the work is not quoted verbatim or paraphrased, and they do not present others’ work as their own whether it is published, unpublished, or electronically available. (American Sociological Association, 2014, p. 3)

Under the pressure of fast-approaching deadlines it is easy to slip up and inadvertently plagiarize your work; even something as small as leaving a citation out of your reference list, or including an incorrect publication date for a source, could affect your grade. It is unbelievably frustrating to miss out on valuable points because of something so simple yet so integral to academic success, so it is in your own interest to ensure you cite fully and accurately.

Even if you are using our citation generator, it is important that you get to grips with the reasons why citing is essential as this will help you to naturally integrate the process into your work.

Firstly, every time you use someone else’s words, data that someone else has collected, or even paraphrase another author’s ideas (regardless of whether it is published, unpublished, or available online), you must appropriately cite the source. The bottom line is, whenever information that you have used in your work has originated from somewhere else, it needs to be cited both in the text and in a reference list. The only exception to this rule is common knowledge – e.g. ‘Barack Obama is the President of the United States’. You can regard something as common knowledge if you are certain that your reader will already know it, for instance; a fact or an everyday phrase.

Secondly, plagiarism is stealing. Researchers and writers must acknowledge their debts to their predecessors by carefully documenting each source they use in their work. If you are going to uphold your intellectual honesty, you’ll need to accurately signpost where you have drawn on someone else’s work. Attributing your research will serve to validate your own work by demonstrating that it is built upon a combination of appropriate academic reading and original thought.

We have also created a checklist to use throughout your research and writing process.

How to avoid plagiarism:

  • Plan – create a detailed plan before you start writing that includes all relevant content, as well as an outline of how you plan on structuring the paper
  • Time management – make use of time plans and targets, and give yourself enough time to read, write and proofread
  • Record sources – note down publication information for each source as you go, save each quote word-for-word, and place it in inverted commas to distinguish it from your own words
  • Use your own words – this is particularly important to remember when paraphrasing information; your work must differ from the original text
  • Save everything – store your research and citations in a safe place.

If you follow the style guidelines, and run any questions past your institution or publisher, it is unlikely that you will plagiarize.

How do I Accurately Cite My Sources with Cite This For Me’s Citation Machine?

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Reference List

American Sociological Association. 2014. American Sociological Association Style Guide. 5th ed. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.

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