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MLA & APA help

Learn how to format papers, cite information sources using MLA and APA style, and how to avoid plagiarism.

Citations IRL (in real life)

Speaking of avoiding plagiarism and attributing where you get information from, have you ever thought about how this practice happens every day around you? It does!

In real life, you're not going to include a formal citation in an email to your cousin. However, you might link to a news article backing up a claim you make in that email. We call these informal citations, or "blog style" citations.

Screenshot of email showing informal citation of text linked to a news article.

Really, something as simple as a link to an article in an email is an informal citation.

Informal citations allow everyone to cite their sources in less formal forms of writing, like blog posts, emails, news articles, and webpages. Informal citations are how everyday creators of information acknowledge ownership, attribute quotes, check facts, and learn more. The beauty of informal citations is that they force you to think about how your sources fit, and actually say why you're sharing them. (Those are skills that you also need in order to write more formal research papers!!)

Examples of informal citations

News information citation
"'Forever 21 is a powerful retail brand with incredible consumer reach and a wealth of untapped potential,' Jamie Salter, CEO of ABG, said in a statement. Forever 21 currently has 593 stores globally."

Source: NPR
Explanation: In the text of their news article, NPR is citing and linking readers to where CEO Salter said the quote.

Infographic informal citation

Infographic with informal citation of data-gathering methodology.

Screenshot source: Reddit
Explanation: Redditor matts41 cited their data-gathering methodology in the image.

Tips for informally citing sources

Informal citations work well for short papers with a small number of sources, reflection papers, and/or Moodle forum posts.

Check with your instructor first to make sure they don't expect a Works Cited (MLA) or References (APA) page. Make sure you provide enough information for the source so that it can be found in a Google search.

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