Article type icon

How to Write an Academic Essay with References and Citations

Written by Scribendi


If you're wondering how to write an academic essay with references, look no further. In this article, we'll discuss how to use in-text citations and references, including how to cite a website, how to cite a book, and how to cite a Tweet, according to various style guides.

How to Cite a Website

You might need to cite sources when writing a paper that references other sources. For example, when writing an essay, you may use information from other works, such as books, articles, or websites. You must then inform readers where this information came from. Failure to do so, even accidentally, is plagiarism—passing off another person's work as your own.

You can avoid plagiarism and show readers where to find information by using citations and references. 

Citations tell readers where a piece of information came from. They take the form of footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical elements, depending on your style guide. In-text citations are usually placed at the end of a sentence containing the relevant information. 

A reference list, bibliography, or works cited list at the end of a text provides additional details about these cited sources. This list includes enough publication information allowing readers to look up these sources themselves.

Referencing is important for more than simply avoiding plagiarism. Referring to a trustworthy source shows that the information is reliable. Referring to reliable information can also support your major points and back up your argument. 

Learning how to write an academic essay with references and how to use in-text citations will allow you to cite authors who have made similar arguments. This helps show that your argument is objective and not entirely based on personal biases.

How Do You Determine Which Style Guide to Use?

How to Write an Academic Essay with References

Often, a professor will assign a style guide. The purpose of a style guide is to provide writers with formatting instructions. If your professor has not assigned a style guide, they should still be able to recommend one. 

If you are entirely free to choose, pick one that aligns with your field (for example, APA is frequently used for scientific writing). 

Some of the most common style guides are as follows:

  • AP style for journalism

  • Chicago style for publishing

  • APA style for scholarly writing (commonly used in scientific fields)

  • MLA style for scholarly citations (commonly used in English literature fields)

Some journals have their own style guides, so if you plan to publish, check which guide your target journal uses. You can do this by locating your target journal's website and searching for author guidelines.

How Do You Pick Your Sources?

When learning how to write an academic essay with references, you must identify reliable sources that support your argument. 

As you read, think critically and evaluate sources for:

  • Accuracy

  • Objectivity

  • Currency

  • Authority

Keep detailed notes on the sources so that you can easily find them again, if needed.

Tip: Record these notes in the format of your style guide—your reference list will then be ready to go.

How to Use In-Text Citations in MLA

An in-text citation in MLA includes the author's last name and the relevant page number: 

(Author 123)

How to Cite a Website in MLA

How to Cite a Website in MLA

Here's how to cite a website in MLA:

Author's last name, First name. "Title of page."

Website. Website Publisher, date. Web. Date

retrieved. <URL>

With information from a real website, this looks like:

Morris, Nancy. "How to Cite a Tweet in APA,

Chicago, and MLA." Scribendi. Scribendi

Inc., n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2021.

<https://www.scribendi.com/academy/articles/how_to_cite_a_website.en.html>

How Do You Cite a Tweet in MLA?

MLA uses the full text of a short Tweet (under 140 characters) as its title. Longer Tweets can be shortened using ellipses. 

MLA Tweet references should be formatted as follows:

@twitterhandle (Author Name). "Text of Tweet." Twitter, Date Month, Year, time of

publication, URL.

With information from an actual Tweet, this looks like:

@neiltyson (Neil deGrasse Tyson). "You can't use reason to convince anyone out of an

argument that they didn't use reason to get into." Twitter, 29 Sept. 2020, 10:15 p.m.,

https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/1311127369785192449.

How to Cite a Book in MLA

Here's how to cite a book in MLA:

Author's last name, First name. Book Title. Publisher, Year.

With publication information from a real book, this looks like:

Montgomery, L.M. Rainbow Valley. Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1919.

How to Cite a Chapter in a Book in MLA

Author's last name, First name. "Title of Chapter." Book Title, edited by Editor Name,

Publisher, Year, pp. page range.

With publication information from an actual book, this looks like:

Ezell, Margaret J.M. "The Social Author: Manuscript Culture, Writers, and Readers." The

Broadview Reader in Book History, edited by Michelle Levy and Tom Mole, Broadview

Press, 2015, pp. 375–394.

How to Cite a Paraphrase in MLA

You can cite a paraphrase in MLA exactly the same way as you would cite a direct quotation. 

Make sure to include the author's name (either in the text or in the parenthetical citation) and the relevant page number.

How to Use In-Text Citations in APA

In APA, in-text citations include the author's last name and the year of publication; a page number is included only if a direct quotation is used: 

(Author, 2021, p. 123)

How to Cite a Website in APA

Here's how to cite a website in APA:

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year, Month. date of publication). Title of page. http://URL

With information from a real website, this looks like:

Morris, N. (n.d.). How to cite a Tweet in APA, Chicago, and MLA. 

https://www.scribendi.com/academy/articles/how_to_cite_a_website.en.html       

Tip: Learn more about how to write an academic essay with references to websites.

How Do You Cite a Tweet in APA?

APA refers to Tweets using their first 20 words. 

Tweet references should be formatted as follows:

Author, A. A. [@twitterhandle). (Year, Month. date of publication). First 20 words of the

Tweet. [Tweet] Twitter. URL

When we input information from a real Tweet, this looks like:

deGrasse Tyson, N. [@neiltyson]. (2020, Sept. 29). You can't use reason to convince anyone

out of an argument that they didn't use reason to get into. [Tweet] Twitter.

https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/1311127369785192449

How to Cite a Book in APA

How to Cite a Book in APA

Here's how to cite a book in APA:   

Author, A. A. (Year). Book title. Publisher.

For a real book, this looks like:

Montgomery, L. M. (1919). Rainbow valley.

Frederick A. Stokes Company.

How to Cite a Chapter in a Book in APA

Author, A. A. (Year). Chapter title. In Editor Name (Ed.), Book Title (pp. page range).

Publisher.

With information from a real book, this looks like:

Ezell, M. J. M. (2014). The social author: Manuscript culture, writers, and readers. In

Michelle Levy and Tom Mole (Eds.), The Broadview Reader in Book History (pp. 375–

394). Broadview Press.

Knowing how to cite a book and how to cite a chapter in a book correctly will take you a long way in creating an effective reference list.

How to Cite a Paraphrase

How to Cite a Paraphrase in APA

You can cite a paraphrase in APA the same way as you would cite a direct quotation, including the author's name and year of publication. 

In APA, you may also choose to pinpoint the page from which the information is taken.

Conclusion

Referencing is an essential part of academic integrity. Learning how to write an academic essay with references and how to use in-text citations shows readers that you did your research and helps them locate your sources.

Learning how to cite a website, how to cite a book, and how to cite a paraphrase can also help you avoid plagiarism—an academic offense with serious consequences for your education or professional reputation.

Scribendi can help format your citations or review your whole paper with our Academic Editing services.


Try Our Academic Editing Service for Free

Claim Your Free Sample


About the Author

Scribendi Editing and Proofreading

Scribendi's in-house editors work with writers from all over the globe to perfect their writing. They know that no piece of writing is complete without a professional edit, and they love to see a good piece of writing transformed into a great one. Scribendi's in-house editors are unrivaled in both experience and education, having collectively edited millions of words and obtained numerous degrees. They love consuming caffeinated beverages, reading books of various genres, and relaxing in quiet, dimly lit spaces.

#scribendiinc