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How to Cite an Article

Citing an article

When writing an essay or article writing and using other people’s ideas, you need to cite them properly. You can just summarize or paraphrase their ideas with your own words, or write a direct quote as well, but you still have to honor the resources your material comes from. If you fail to do that, it will be considered plagiarism: this is unethical and can lead to serious negative consequences. For example, you are likely to get a zero for your paper and reported to your school’s academic honesty board, or you can even be fired from a job.

In both professional and scholarly publications, the type and the medium of publication is what defines how you should cite it in the list of references. In case your task is to write a research-based article in the humanities, then you are most likely to use Modern Language Association (MLA) style. American Psychological Association (APA) has their own style for student works and periodicals. This article concerns the latter styles and includes the best practices to cite articles in APA.

At the end of this article, you will know:

  • How to cite an article in a book.
  • How to cite an article with no author.
  • How to cite an online article.
  • How to cite other types of APA and MLA citations.

In fact, citation rules are quite similar and do not depend on the type of paper you need to find references for. Still, there are certain differences.

How to Cite an Article in MLA Style

1. The author’s name is the start

The author’s last name is the beginning, then a comma. After the comma, write the author’s first name. The author’s name of an entry ends with a full stop or a period.

If you need to list two authors, write an “and” in between the two names.

If the article has more than two authors, write the name of the first author and the phrase “et al.”

2. The article title follows

Write the title in quotes (“) while capitalizing all the major words. Before you close the quotes, put a period.

3. Add the title of the periodical in italics

Capitalization in your citation should be the same as the one on the cover of a publication.

4. The date goes next

Type the day, the abbreviation of a month and the year of publication with 4 numbers.

For instance, 23 Nov. 2018.

After the date, place a colon.

5. Page numbers

Page numbers go after the colon. If you need to indicate a series of page numbers, place the first and the last page with a dash between them.

For instance, 61-72.

6. Medium Type

This is the last information to finish the entry. For most purposes, it goes in as “Print.” Still, a web article copied from a printed publication is written “Web.”

Finish the citing with a full stop.

How to cite an article in a book in MLA:

  • Author’s name.
  • Title of the essay.
  • Title of the book or collection (in italics).
  • “Ed.” abbreviation followed by names of the editors.
  • City of publication.
  • Range of entry pages with a dash in between.

Hot to Cite an Article in APA Style

Using the APA style guide to cite an article may seem quite similar to that of MLA, but still APA has some special features which are critical to adhere to. 

1. The author’s name again

The name of the author goes first for the APA citation style too. There are special differences as well. The format is: last name, comma, then first and middle initials. The author entry should be ended with a period. Place a period after each initial as well.

2. Date of publication

Names are followed by the date with a period.

If you need to cite a newspaper or a magazine article, then the format is month, day, then year. In the case of citing a journal article, or a web source article, you should only use the year in parenthesis.

3. Article title

Add the title of the article you cite. Again, major words should be capitalized, but not placed in italics or quotes. Use a period after the title.

4. Name of the publication

Next, the name of the publication is indicated in italics. A comma and all the page numbers have to be added to this entry as well. Finish this section with a period.

If a journal or other source with an edition is used, then place a comma after the name of the publication and then indicate the number of the edition or volume. After that, place a comma and indicate the pages. A period ends the section again.

5. Website or DOI

A DOI or website should be included in a citation if you need to cite an online article. The DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is the best option in any case if it is known. Write “DOI,” then put a colon before entering the DOI number.

If getting the DOI is not known, the URL can be used here. First, write the words “Retrieved from:” and insert the web address. Periods after the DOI or URL are not required.

How to Cite an Article with no Author

Usually, citing begins with the name of the author, no matter what citation style you are using. Still, sometimes it is a bit difficult to cite the source, as some sources do not have a defined author. For instance, governmental documents may not have an author, because technically the institution is their author. When you make a link to a website, it can be quite difficult to find an author as well. So, it is important to know how to cite these references and links correctly.

MLA example

1. Article title followed by the italic name of the journal:

    • ‘Cars for Speed.’ Speed for Life
    • Pay attention to the full stop after the title.

2. Volume and number with a period between them, followed by the publication date in brackets:

    • ‘Cars for Speed.’ Speed for Life 23.5 (1965):
    • Pay attention to the colon next to the date in a reference.

3. Article page numbers and the source of the article (“print” or “web) are added in the end. If the article is published on the web, use the date of your page visit too:

    • ‘Cars for Speed.’ Speed for Life 23.5 (1965): 22-45 Web. 25 Apr. 2013.

4. Keep in mind that you should cite newspaper articles with no author in the same way:

    • ‘Animals in Forests.’ All You Should Know about Animals 27 May 2007: 23-45. Print.”

5. Edit the reference page. Use titles to position notes in alphabetical order.

6. Put reference notes in the text. Use a shorter form of the title for in-text citations if it is too long, and use the whole title if it is short. Add the title (in quotes) at the end of the sentence in parentheses. Indicate the page number where you found the information too:

    • “Lighter cars can have higher speeds (‘Cars for Speed’ 16).”

APA example

1. The Article title goes first again. Then add the date:

    • ‘Cars for speed.’ (1965).
    • Keep in mind that the APA style guide needs only the first word of a sentence to be capitalized for article titles. This means only the first word of a sentence should start with a capital letter.

2. Use an italic font for the name of a source. Write the source name using traditional capitalization rules (important words are written with a capital letter). Then add the volume and the number in parentheses:

    • ‘Cars for speed.’ (1965). Speed for Life, 23(5),
    • Pay attention: the volume is in italics, while the number is not.

3. Indicate page numbers and finally, add the DOI or URL if you’ve found the article on the web. 

    • ‘Cars for speed.’ (1965). Speed for Life, 23(5), 15-33. doi: 123456789.”

4. Use the same formatting for newspapers and magazines:

    • ‘Animals in Forests.’ (2007, May 27). All You Should Know about Animals, 23-45.”

5. Make in-text citations. To create in-text citations, use a short form of the title instead of the author. At the end of the sentence, add the title in parentheses together with the year and the page number:

    • “Cars are the best for speed (‘Cars,’ 1965, p. 21).”

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