Finding, citing & evaluating articles: citing


CITING SOURCES IS AN ART, NOT A SCIENCE.  There are several ways to interpret the components of the various styles.  The final authority is your instructor for that particular project. Don’t remember the basics of why and how?  Check the Giving Credit post.    Again, the   OWL at Purdue University  is a really good online guide to the most common styles.   (OWL stands for Online Writing Lab.)

Remember – for this class you must use MLA 7th edition,  APA 6th edition, or Turabian  8th (= Chicago  16th.)

NOTE:  MLA 8th came out Spring 2016.  Check with your instructor to see which edition they want you to use.  If they say MLA 8th, then check for changes.

Citing articles is more difficult than citing books because the exact format of the citation varies depending on what kind of periodical you need to cite and where you found the article:  in print, in a library article database or just out on the general web.

You can either build a citation using information from the  article, use the Word reference system, use eTurabian, or use a  database “cite” feature. Most library databases and Google Scholar have a “cite” feature that will do most of  the work for you.  Be careful!  These citation features are rarely completely accurate.  In most cases, the differences are small, but occasionally there are major issues. The most common error is capitalizing incorrectly.  The systems seem to prefer doing titles in all caps, which is incorrect unless you’re reading a story with a title like “POW!  BAM!! WOW!!!”

For most instructors, using either a database “cite” feature  or using the Word reference system is acceptable – as long as you use it correctly. However, if you ever have an instructor who likes to see every “i” dotted,  every “t” crossed, and everything else in the right place, you will need to get very familiar with the OWL @ Purdue  or the print manuals for APA 6th, MLA 7th or Turabian 8th. (We now have the Chicago Manual of Style online, but the OWL @ Purdue is easier to use.)

There are a few terms you need to know before doing article citations.

  • DOI:
    DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier. The DOI is a set of numbers that uniquely identifies a piece of digital information.   Think of it as a social security number for articles.   You will need to use DOIs when you do APA and Chicago/Turabian citations.  You do NOT need DOIs for MLA – yet.  NOTE:  As of MLA 8th edition, DOIs are required in some cases.
  • Magazine – a popular source, aimed at a general audience.  Examples include Time, People, and Scientific American.  You can find magazines at the grocery store, airport, etc.
  • Newspapers – also a popular source aimed at a general audience.  Most newspapers come out more frequently than magazines.   The New York TimesSalt Lake Tribune, and the Standard Examiner are all daily newspapers.  Newspapers in small towns may come out just once or twice a week. The Wall Street Journal is an example of a newspaper that has a trade as well as a popular audience.  CNN, ABC and the BBC  are examples of news sources that provide  “print” information on the web in addition to their videos.  Articles from these sites can be cited as you would cite articles from online newspapers unless you are given a different format to follow.
  • Scholarly journals –  also called peer reviewed or refereed or academic.  These scholarly sources are aimed at specialists in a field and students learning the field.  Scholarly journals are usually peer reviewed or refereed – in other words,  experts (unknown to the author) look at the article and okay it (or not) for publication.
  • Web articles – these articles can be popular, scholarly or trade.  There are two categories:  those that published both in print and online and those that are published online only.  Those published online only can be anything from formal, scholarly articles published in an online only journal (still fairly rare) to blog posts and Wikipedia entries.
  • Database publishers  – MLA style requires you to use the database publisher in the citation.  Our most common database publishers are:  EBSCO, Proquest, ScienceDirect, JSTOR, Wiley, Lexis/Nexis, Gale/Cengage and Sage.  If you’re not sure what the publisher’s name is,  check the bottom of the main search page for the copyright date.  The name next to the copyright date is usually the database publisher.
  • MLA mediums of publication –  MLA now requires what it calls a medium of publication.  In most cases, you will use Print, if you read it on paper or microform,  or Web if you read it online.  However, if you have a fussy instructor or are using less common formats, you will need to use other terms.  Check out the list at the Searching High and Low blog. NOTE:  You may see “media” rather than “mediums.” Media is the Latin plural of medium and may be used instead mediums.
    NOTE:  MLA 8th no longer uses medium of publication.

Basic citation pattern for articles When citing periodicals, the easiest way is to use a website like the OWL@Purdue or use the print manuals to look up information as you need it.  However, it can be useful to look at the general patterns for APA , MLA  and Turabian articles.  The examples below represent citations for an article in a scholarly journal.  Pay attention to punctuation and to what is and what is not italicized.

  • APA 6th edition

Author. (Year).Title of article.Title of Journal,volume number(issue number), page numbers.doi:0000/00000 (or URL for journal’s home page if no DOI.)

  • MLA 7th edition

Author. “Title of Article.”Title of Journal volume.issue, (date): page numbers.Database publisher. Web. Day Mon. year.

  • Turabian 8th   There are actually two versions of Turabian.  One is used more by the social sciences and sciences, the other by the humanities.  The main difference is where you put the year of publication. The author/date version is similar to APA style.  The humanities version is similar to MLA, without the medium of publication.

Author.  Year. “Title of Article.”  Title of Journal  vol.#, issue#  (month if available):  page numbers.  Accessed Month day, year.  online locator. (DOI, URL or database name in order of preference)     (Social Sciences)


Author. “Title of Article.”  Title of Journal  vol#, issue# (month day,year): pages.  Accessed Month day, year. online locator. (DOI, URL or database name in order of preference)       (Humanities)

  • DATE information (article):  Use what you have.  So, if you have June 5, 1998 use that.  If you only have the month use June, 1998, and if you only have the year, use 1998.
  • DOI:  if the DOI starts with http://  just copy the whole thing.  If the DOI starts with a number, put:
  • URL:  use the stable, perma or permanent link to the article (not the database.)  With the exception of Lexis/Nexis and Science Direct, do not use the address in the bar at top – you must find the permanent link.
  • DATABASE NAME:  you must use the specific database name:  Academic Search Premier, NOT Ebsco or Ebscohost.
    NOTE:  Ebsco is the publisher,  Ebscohost is the software platform, and Academic Search Premier is the database name.

Remember, these are just basic patterns.  You’ll need to adjust them depending on the type of periodical source and where you found it.

Database “cite” features

Many databases now have “cite” features that automatically generate citations in the format of your choice.  Be sure to check these over – they are not always correct.



Ebsco cite feature

Click on the “cite” button to bring up the citation in various formats.
Courtesy of Ebsco

Ebsco formatted citations

Ebsco citation choices.
Courtesy of Ebsco



One Search cite screen

Your can use the cite feature on OneSearch. However, it’s usually better to use the “cite” feature from the database you find the article in – it is more likely to have the correct options.
Courtesy of Proquest


The citation formatted by OneSearch.

No, it doesn’t have Chicago/Turabian humanities. Check out the database the article appears in or use eTurabian.
Courtesy of Proquest


Check out eTurabian (it also does APA & MLA):

eTurabian home page

The eTurabian home page. Use this screen to identify the type of citation you want to do.
Courtesy of eTurabian.


eTurbian citation page

Use this screen to fill out citation information.
Courtesy of eTurabian.

Word reference system

If you use the Word reference system, the main thing to remember is that you have to put the right information in the right box.  You will also need to check the box at the bottom of the first page to get all of the boxes  you’ll need.  (Note:  Word 2013/Office 365 has all or almost all of the necessary boxes on the first screen.) Remember, Word defines things differently:

  • Notes – Word calls notes, citations  (regular = notes, Word = citations)
  • Citations – Word calls citations, sources in bibliographies, reference lists or works cited lists (regular= citations or reference, Word = sources)
  • I used Word 2007 and 2010 for the illustrations.  Word 2013 is very similar.
Using word to do citations.

Getting started on a citation.
Courtesy of Microsoft


Second page of using Word to do citations

Getting started on a citation 2
Courtesy of Microsoft

Once you click on Add New Source, you will get a screen with boxes

  • Fill in the boxes with your source information.
  • See the examples below.

The following examples are for articles in online journals.  To use with other types and formats of periodicals, just change which boxes you fill in  using OWL@Purdue or a similar manual to guide you in putting the right information in the right box.

You must put the right information in the right boxes; you must also capitalize and use punctuation correctly – Word will NOT fix problems for you.


Using Word to do a journal citaton.

Using Word for a journal citation.
Courtesy of Microsoft.


Word for an MLA citation.

Using Word to do an MLA citation. Note the box for “medium” of publication.
Courtesy of Microsoft.

Example of MLA journal citation using Word.

Example of MLA journal citation using Word.
Courtesy of Microsoft.

Second screen of an MLA citation using Word.

Second screen of an MLA citation using Word.
Courtesy of Microsoft.


Doing an APA journal citation in Word.

Doing an APA journal citation in Word.
Courtesy of Microsoft.

Second screen - using Word to do an APA journal citation.

Using Word to do an APA journal citation, second screen. Courtesy of Microsoft.

How to use a DOI in a Word APA journal citation.

How to use a DOI in a Word APA journal citation.
Courtesy of Microsoft.



Using Word to create a citation in Turabian format.

Using Word to create a citation in Turabian format.
Courtesy of Microsoft


Adding extra authors on Word. Courtesy of Microsoft.

Adding extra authors on Word.
Courtesy of Microsoft.

Doing a Turabian citation in Word - part 2.

Doing a Turabian citation in Word – part 2.
Courtesy of Microsoft.


Remember the steps in doing a citation

  1. Figure out what kind of article you have.  Is it popular/scholarly/trade?  Is it a magazine, newspaper, journal, or web article?
  2. For library article databases and Google Scholar, use their Cite feature or eTurabian.   For other articles, you can type the citation into your bibliography/works cited list or use the Word Reference system to format notes and citation.  (Remember Word meaning for the terms citation  and notes differ from common usage.)
  3. When using the Word Reference system you must:
    1. Choose the right format (book, journal article, etc.)
    2. Fill in the correct boxes
      1. Have a lot of empty boxes and don’t have boxes for information you have?  You’ve probably chosen the wrong format.
    3. Check citations and notes for correctness.
  4. Use a guide like the OWL@Purdue or the APA or MLA nor Chicago/Turabian print manuals to make sure you’ve done everything correctly.

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