In academic writing, citing sources is critical. You must include a citation that gives credit to the original author if you utilize information or ideas from a source (such as a book, article, or web page).

There are numerous citation styles, each with its own set of formatting criteria. APA and MLA are the most used citation styles.

The Scribbr Citation Generator, which is available for free, is the quickest way to reference sources in these formats. Simply type in the URL, DOI, or title, and we’ll find the information you need.

WebsiteBook ArticleNewspaper ArticleVideo

• Newspaper article

Wikipedia article

Conference proceedingsConference paper

public announcement



When should you cite sources?

In all scholarly texts, citations are required (such as essays, research papers, and dissertations). You must cite a source every time you use it to draw on ideas, summarize facts, make arguments, or give examples.

You can quote or paraphrase the original text to refer to a source:

• To quote a source, copy a brief passage word for word and place it within quotation marks.

• To paraphrase, rewrite the source text in your own terms. It’s critical that the paraphrase doesn’t sound too much like the original.

To avoid plagiarism, whether you quote or paraphrase, you must always add a citation. Citing also helps your reader to locate the original source for themselves, enhancing the credibility of your article.

Remember to reference any other sources you utilize for ideas, examples, or evidence, in addition to scholarly materials like books and journal articles. Websites, YouTube videos, dictionaries, seminars, and social media posts all fall under this category.

What style of citation should you use?

Check the requirements first because many university departments and academic journals require a specific citation style. If no citation style is mentioned, you must select one and adhere to it throughout your paper.

Your best option is determined by your field and discipline. In the social sciences, APA is the most popular style, whereas in the humanities, MLA is the most popular. Other fields, such as medicine or engineering, have their own distinct styles.

You can find out what style your instructor uses by asking them or reading previous papers in your field.

Citation Checker on Scribbr

The AI-powered Citation Checker assists you in avoiding frequent errors like:

• Commas and periods missing

• Misuse of the word “et al.”

• In narrative citations, ampersands (&)

• Reference entries that are missing

Find out more

Full references and in-text citations

There are two fundamental components to every source citation:

• Next to the appropriate material, a brief in-text reference.

• A complete reference with all of the information needed to locate the original source.

To see examples of references and in-text citations in APA and MLA, use the interactive tool.

In-text references

In-text citations are usually written in parenthesis and include the author’s last name as well as a year or page number (depending on the citation style). Footnotes, endnotes, or bracketed numerals that match reference entries are used in some styles.

Each citation style has its own set of criteria for citing:

• sources with a number of writers

• sources with no author information

• sources with an unclear publication date

• sources that don’t have page numbers

• a single author’s many sources

These guidelines are fully detailed in our style-specific instructions to in-text citations.

In-text APA citations | MLA citations | Chicago citations

Complete bibliography

References, Works Cited, or Bibliography is a page at the end of the article that lists all of the references.

The author, title, and publication date of the source are always included in full references. They also contain other details that aid in the identification of the source.

The format of a reference is determined by the source type. A book reference, for example, includes the publisher and, on occasion, the edition, whereas a journal article reference includes the volume and issue numbers as well as the page range where the article occurs. Below are some instances of references for various source kinds.

YouTube video | Interview | Lecture | Image

Making use of a citation maker

It might be tough to get every detail exactly because each style has so many little variances in things like italicization, capitalization, and punctuation. Using a citation generator is the simplest method.

You can enter the source details manually or use a URL or DOI, and the generator will generate an in-text citation and reference entry in the correct format. You can save your reference list as you go along and then download it after you’re through.

The Citation Generators on Scribbr are completely free, with no ads or registration necessary.

Citation Maker for APA Citation Maker for MLA

Checking your references

If you’re unsure about referencing sources, there are automated tools and services that may assist you double-check your work. A plagiarism checker ensures that you’ve included citations where they’re required, whereas a citation checker ensures that your citations are properly formatted.

Plagiarism detection software

Universities evaluate your paper for similarities to other texts using plagiarism detection tools.

When working with a large number of sources, it’s easy to make mistakes that could be considered plagiarism, such as forgetting to include a citation after a quote or paraphrasing a source too closely to the original language.

You can avoid this by checking your paper for plagiarism before submitting it. You can fill in missing citations and rewrite your text as needed based on the results.

We made a full evaluation of the solutions in terms of accuracy and safety because there are several free and paid plagiarism checkers available online.

Checkers for citations

The Citation Checker on Scribbr is a one-of-a-kind application that checks your in-text citations for stylistic faults and inconsistencies. It also recommends a solution for each error. This is the quickest and easiest way to ensure you’ve formatted your citations correctly, and it’s currently available for APA Style.

We also provide citation editing services if you require more assistance with your reference list. Our professionals double-check your in-text citations and reference entries, double-check your source material, and optimize the layout of your reference page.