7 Formatting Tips That Will Make Referencing Easy

7 Formatting tips!

Referencing is arguably the most daunting part of academic writing. You’ve spent so much time and effort on your paper but a couple of errors in works cited can decrease grade significantly. And sometimes, a failure to properly cite can lead to plagiarism concerns.

Luckily, there are ways to make this process easier, faster, and flawless. In this guide, you’ll find tips, tricks, and writing tools that will help you nail the referencing next time you are busy with academic papers. But, before that, let’s start with why it is important to cite your sources.


Why Citing is Beneficial

A lot of students just look at this as a boring requirement they have to do. It is not true, proper referencing is beneficial for you. And understanding that helps to stay motivated and focus on details. The advantages of references are:

  • It is a way to give your thesis, claim, or argument validity. Other research can be proof of what you are saying in your paper. For example, if there was a study already done on the subject, you can just use their results instead of doing a separate study.
  • It makes your paper credible. No academic paper exists out of context. And when you reference all the sources properly, it gives more relevance to your words. In a way, it works as a halo effect from the credibility of other scientists you name.
  • It shows your knowledge of the subject. A professor or a colleague can see that you are aware of the recent finding and have excellent knowledge of the field.

Of course, another major reason to care about works cited is that it gives credit to other scientists. And it promotes originality in academia as well as decreases the plagiarism issue.

How to Make Referencing Easier

Now, let’s go through all the tips on proper citing and the way to make it less terrifying for students.

Keep the Style Guide Close

Usually, the style of an assignment is given by the professor. The major ones are APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard. Each of them has its specifics and requirements. But the guidelines are available online, just save the hustle and download the one you need right away. Keep it in the same folder as all other documents for the project so you can always find it.

Use it as an example and go over it at the end, when editing.

List Sources While Researching

A common mistake a lot of students do is that they do not keep track of the sources they read. Of course, you might not use them all in the end, but if you lose the link, name, or title, you’ll have to spend extra time looking for it again.

Create a separate document or just put them all at the end of your paper draft. List all things you read and put the links to them. Another great idea will be to divide them into books, journals, or online publications because they are cited differently.

Put References as You Go

Here is another trick that will save you time – put in-text references as you write. It is so easy to forget something or miss a sentence that you’ve needed to reference, especially when you are working on a project for quite a time. And every such error is a case of plagiarism, which is a serious offense in academia.

You do not have to be perfect with them when you are writing, just put the name and page, so you can edit them later easily.

Remember About Periods

This is one of the small formatting details that are easy to miss. Pay attention to where the periods go when you are referencing a source. The rule of thumb is that it goes after the brackets. This is true for the majority of styles. Try to remember it by thinking that the source belongs to the sentence. Here is an example:

The studies show that 80% of students struggle with academic formatting (Douglas, 23).

Use Google Scholar

First of all, it is a better way to find relevant and peer-reviewed sources. It is the same search engine but it only shows academic results. So it is going to save lots of time on research.

But it has another great feature for students – pre-made references to sources. On the search page after each result, there is a quotation marks sign. If you click on it – you’ll get a ready to copy reference to this book or article. It comes in three major styles APA, MLA, and Chicago. Of course, it is still better to proofread them afterward, but it is a great tool to use.

Avoid Repeated Referencing

If you need to cite a couple of sentences of one source, there is no need to put brackets after each one of them. When you have a lot to cite from one source, just write a clear upcoming sentence that names this source. And do not forget to write a sentence that indicates the end of the citation and the beginning of your own ideas.

Here is an example:

Douglas (2019) suggests that formatting requirements and student grades are closely connected. This idea is supported by her research on…

Make Sure In-text Quotations Go Along with Works Cited

The more sources you use the easier it is to get lost. When proofreading and editing the works cited list make sure that it features all the texts you’ve mentioned as in-text quotations. You can make a name search or do it manually. Just remember that every footnote has to be in the bibliography.

In Summary

Being organized in this process is the secret to success. It is all about attention to the smallest details, like period, cursive, or intricacies of quoting journals. Even if you use online tools, always proofread them. And if it is not enough for you, consider looking for professional academic editing services that can help you with referencing. 

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