5 Mistakes to Avoid When Citing Your Sources in an Essay?

Essays are short pieces of writing that are supposed to describe, clarify, argue or analyse a particular subject. Essays can have several elements but what we see the most is literary criticism, observations and reflections of the author. Essays are also written in sections that are the Introduction, Body and Conclusion.

We wrote previously about this and we explained what each of these needs to have for an essay to be successful and good. In short, your introductions need to be interesting enough to capture the readers’ attention from the get-go, it needs to show some kind of importance to the topic and needs to end with a thesis sentence. The Body of the essay is the most important part and the spine of the entire essay. It needs to have your opinions and reasons regarding the topic and depending on the type of essay the body will be divided into two, three or more paragraphs that will allow you to state what you intended. The Conclusion part is probably the trickiest because here you need to restate the thesis and you need to have something about the topic you can leave for a reader to think about. This is the tricky part, but not as tricky as the thing we will discuss today.

Citations are a crucial part of any essay and they need to be done right. We can’t count how many times we read or write an essay with a bad citation, which is why we decided to dress this topic to aid you, future essay writers. Besides this help, we also found help in a form of wr1ter.com, so go check them out and see what they are all about.

1. Not knowing the types of citation

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Most of us are not aware that there are two types of citation and this is the reason for our essays being bad, unreadable or getting a low score. To have the best essay possible you need to know your citations and have them in a certain order. There are two types of citation you can make in your essay and they are in-text citation and reference list citation. The in-text citation is a note to your reader that states “hey this is where I got my information from”. It can be at the end of the sentence or it could be at the start of the sentence, or even somewhere in the paragraph. The important thing here to note is that this type of citation just needs to state, in brackets, where you got that info from. The info in those brackets will be the name of the author and either the year or the page number. You also need to remember that after the in-text reference you need a corresponding end-text reference that will give more details on the source you used.

2. Not knowing or asking about citation formats

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There are different formats that you can use for your citation that additionally complicate this. This is the reason why these can sometimes be more difficult than they should. Now depending on the teacher and the requirements, they will advise on the format of citation and if they don’t your task is to ask about it. The format is APA style, Harvard style, Chicago style and MLA style of referencing. So if the style isn’t already known your main task is to ask your teacher about what they want or prefer. If you are not aware of how some of these styles look or what they need to consist of, no worries there is a lot of info online that you can Google and have in less than a second.

3. Paraphrased information

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After all of the basic issues about citation are out of the way we want to address something that is also a huge issue to everyone and something that gets heavily overlooked. Whenever you are using info from a different source to explain or fortify your work you need to give credit and cite that source. What we usually tend to forget and overlook is the paraphrased information. Since we paraphrased it we believe that it shouldn’t be cited but this is completely wrong, even the paraphrased info needs to be cited correctly, again depending on the style of the citation required.

4. Bad or old sources

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Whenever you are doing an essay, school or professional, you need to make sure it is relevant, important and up to date. You don’t want a topic or a discussion that is old and unusable and you don’t want sources that are the same. Sources you are using and research that you are using for your essay, or any other info and reference, need to be relevant and important if you want your essay to look professional. In research, this is highly important and citing info from sources whose research has been outdated or disputed is likely to produce a bad grade or score so keep in mind that whatever you are writing needs to be current, important, accurate and with a purpose.

5. Too much or too many citations

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OK, this is a common problem for most of us and we tend to forget about the balance that needs to be everywhere. Having too many citations is just as bad as having too few of them.

The fact is that you do not need to cram your essay with a citation if you are using the same source, book, or study for an entire paragraph. You can write about it, argue it and explain it in the paragraph and just make one citation at the end, or beginning or middle, about your source and that, is it. This will make your essay a lot cleaner and more professional and it will help with the final grade.

In the end, we need to say that writing a good essay is a work of art. It takes time, research and a lot of checking after it is finished. Whenever you are writing you tend to overlook certain things which are why a good day’s break after your essay is written is a good idea. You can come back the next day and correct any mistakes you see.

Besides this pay close attention to your reference because, as you can see, it is a huge and important part of the essay. If you take credit for someone else’s work without proper citation you are doing plagiarism work, and you are losing your credibility and grades or score in school or work.