What Should You Avoid When You Cite The Sources?

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Writing is a skill. That’s why it’s important to keep perfecting it. Whether you are new to bibliographies or they have become your old friend, mistakes are easy to make. Learn how to avoid the most common mistakes by checking out a list of the top citation mistakes.

Why Should You Cite Your Sources?

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  • To show your readers that you have done your research.
  • To give credit to others for work they have done.
  • To point your readers to sources that may be useful to them.
  • To allow your readers to check your sources if there are questions.

Citing sources points the way for other scholars. Future generations of engineers, scientists and leaders will look to work done to solve some of the world’s greatest problems. Citation helps that process continue.

Missing References or Citations

One of the most common citation mistakes is missing references or citations. First of all, citations and references are a package deal. A citation within the text needs a reference in your reference page or bibliography and vice versa.

However, some people forget to cite in the paper or create a reference listing for an in-text citation. One easy way to avoid this citation faux pas is to check that every in-text citation leads to a reference in your paper.

Citations in Alphabetical Order

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Reference list, works cited, and bibliography citations can’t be all willy-nilly in your paper. Every style asks you to put your citations in alphabetical order by the first element of the citation.

This could be an author’s last name, title, corporation, or more. When it comes to numbers, they are put in alphabetical order as they would be said. So, 360 would be alphabetized as three hundred sixty. Know at Wr1ter why it plays an essential role.

Missing Page Numbers

It’s important to add page numbers to your citations. Why? Reference citations and in-text citations are there for a reason. They point readers to your research. Therefore, giving a page number in a book with thousands of pages can help a reader out. While the chance someone will look for this information is small, it’s still important.

Not Citing Paraphrased Information

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When you paraphrase or quote information in a professional or school paper, you must include citations in the text and reference page. This is important. If you incorrectly quote information or do not cite something you paraphrased, it’s considered plagiarism.

And no one wants to be a plagiarizer. Therefore, any thought or idea that is not your own should be cited, whether you put quotes around it or not.

Since the author is quoting research that is not their own, they need to provide a citation for the information.

Outdated or Poor Resources

Not all resources are created equal. For students and professionals alike, this is a pivotal concept. It’s important to ensure the sources you use to create your papers are current, relevant, authoritative, accurate, and purposeful.

For instance, Wikipedia is a good place to start your research, but it’s far from a credible source. Therefore, you wouldn’t want to cite Wikipedia. Everything you use as a credible source should pass the CRAAP test. And if you are having trouble finding sources, you can use a source generator.

Not Including Web Addresses

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When including a website in your research, you must include the website URL in the reference list or bibliography citation. This shows the readers where to go to find the research you used.

You often include the exact URL where you found the information, so it’s easy to access for a professor or reader. Leaving this information off your bibliography citation can get you marked down. And it makes it harder for anyone to access the research you used.

Unnecessary Citations

While you can make too few citations, you can also make too many citations. The art of citations is all about balance. For example, when you use an entire paragraph to present ideas from one specific book or the same author, you can provide one clear citation at the end, rather than cluttering up the whole paragraph with citations at the end of each sentence.

Additionally, you can cite the different pages you are referencing once the source has been established. This helps keep your work looking clean while ensuring you aren’t plagiarizing information.

Incorrectly Using et al

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As you already know, et al. is used when you have multiple authors in an in-text citation for a source. Writing out more than 20 authors in a text would get irritating. And it would take up a lot of space in the text of your article.

Therefore, each style dictates when to use et al. rather than write out all the authors’ names. However, et al. isn’t just used every time you have more than one author. Typically, you use et al. for citations of more than three authors in the text. But consult your style manual, just in case.

Including Author’s Initials or Honorifics In-Text Citations

Citations made in the text of the article don’t include an author’s initials or honorifics. They include the last name of the author. This can get confusing because you include names and initials in the reference list. The in-text citation should be formatted correctly.

Incorrect Punctuation

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Last but certainly not least is incorrect punctuation in your citations. This is a big one. Because each style guide has a specific way, they want you to punctuate your citations in the text and the reference list.

Following the punctuation format of each different style is key to making sure everything is perfect. To avoid punctuation errors, you can look at examples of citations for your style. These are designed to include the proper punctuation for your specific style.

Bottom Line

Creating a bibliography or reference list can be hard. There are just so many rules for each one. Make sure your citations are perfect by avoiding the most common errors made in citations. And if you need a little help, you can always contact the experts.