How to Reference in an Essay (9 Strategies Top Students Use) (2023) (2023)

Are you overwhelmed by recommendations?

When you're asked to provide citations in an essay, it can be difficult to understand. If it's been a while since you've learned to reference, it can be intimidating to ask how to do it again.

I have so many students who keep losing points just because they didn't get the right references! They are too shy to ask for extra help or too lazy to learn how to solve problems.

So, here is a post that will help you to solve the problems yourself.

Do you ever think you're good at making recommendations? No problem. This post looks at some amazing and advanced strategies that anyone can use to get better, no matter what level they are!

In this post, I'll show you exactly how to reference in an essay.I'll explain why we're doing this and show you9 practical tipsabout the right references that I'm sure you haven't heard anywhere.

The publication is divided into three parts:

  • What is a reference and what is a citation?
  • Why reference? (4 things you should know)
  • References (9 Best Student Strategies)

If you think you already have a good grasp of the basics, you can skip ahead to our9 advanced strategiesSection.

What is an appointment?

A mention in the text of your source. A citation is a brief mention of the source from which you got the information, usually in the middle or end of a sentence in the body of your paragraph. It is usually abbreviated so as not to distract the reader too much from their own writing. Here are two examples of quotes. The first is in APA format. The second is in MLA format:

  • O:Archaeological records trace early humans to equatorial Africa to around 250,000 to 350,000 years ago.(Schlebusch and Jakobsson, 2018).
  • ALM:Archaeological records trace early humans to equatorial Africa to around 250,000 to 350,000 years ago.(Schlebusch and Jakobsson 1).

In APA format, you have listed authors and year of publication. In MLA format, authors and page number are listed. If you keep reading, I'll give you more formatting tips later in this article.

And a reference is:

What is a recommendation?

A reference is the full details of a source that you list at the bottom of the article. For each citation (see above) there should be a corresponding note at the end of the essay giving more details about that source. The idea is that the reader can see the source in the text (which means they can see the citation) and if they want more information they can skip to the bottom of the page and find out exactly how to find the source.

This is what you would do to reference Schlebusch and Jakobsson's source in a list at the end of the essay. Again, I'll show you how to do this in both APA and MLA formats:

  • O:Schlebusch, C. & Jakobsson, M. (2018). Stories of human migration, mixing and selection in Africa.Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics,11(33), 1–24.
  • ALM:Schlebusch, Carina and Mattias Jakobsson. "Stories of Human Migration, Mixing, and Selection in Africa."Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, Bd. 11, Nº. 33, 2018, p. 1–24.

In Strategy 1 below, I show you the easiest, surefire way to write those references perfectly every time.

One last quick note: sometimes we say "reference" when we mean "citation". This is completely normal. Just keep hitting. It is usually very easy to understand what our professor means, regardless of whether he uses the word "reference" or "citation".

Reference in an essay is important. By the time you start taking level 200 courses unless you provide the proper references you will most likely fail the course. The top answer to "Why Reference?" is easy:Because you need!

Okay, let's get serious... here are the top four "real" reasons to reference:

1. The reference shows that you have an expert opinion.

you just can'twrite an essaywhat you think you know This is a big mistake for freshmen. Instead, you must do the following:

Best tip:College essays are designed to show that reading expert opinions has provided new information.

Each time you include a citation in your paragraph, you demonstrate that the information you are presenting in that paragraph was provided to you by an expert. In other words, it means youget an expert opinionto build your knowledge.

Having quotes that link to various expert opinions throughout the essay shows your favorites that you really looked at what the experts said with an open mind and took their ideas into account.

It will help you to improve your grades.

(Video) How to Reference in an Essay (3 Simple Tips)

2. The reference shows that it is reading its assigned readings

Your teacher will probably give youArticles in scientific journalsor book chapters to read as homework between classes. You might even have talked about these assigned readings in your seminars and tutorials.

Great! Heassigned readingsthey are very important to you.

In your essay, you should definitely cite assigned readings that are relevant to the topic of your essay.evaluative essay(unless your teacher tells you not to). Why? I will explain below.

  • First,The assigned readings were chosen by your professor because your professor (you know, the person who will grade your essay) believes they are the highest quality articles on the subject. Translation: Your teacher has given you the best source you can find. Be sure to use!
  • not second placeBy quoting the assigned readings, you show the teacher that you have been paying attention throughout the course. They show your teacher that you've done your homework, read your assigned reading, and paid attention. When my students submit an essay that contains links to websites, blogs, wikis, and journals, I get really frustrated. Why and when should you cite inferior, non-expert sources like websites?you sayThe Expert's Article!? Seriously, this really frustrates me.

So, quote your assigned readings to show your professor that you've read the academic papers they've given you. It will help you to improve your grades.

3. References deepen your knowledge

Well, then you understand that you need to use references to show that you have the opinion of experts on the subject.

But there's more. In fact, there is a real benefit to your learning.

If you force yourself to cite two expert sources per paragraph, you are actually forcing yourself to obtain two separate pieces of expert knowledge. So you deepen your knowledge!

So don't treat referrals as a vanity exercise to help you earn more points. Really see this as a chance to develop a deeper understanding of the topic!

When reading expert sources, try to acquire new knowledge that can be discussed in your essays. Some things to keep in mind when looking for referral sources:

  • Examples that connect ideas to real life.Do experts provide real-life examples to mention in your essay?
  • facts and figures.Typically, experts have done research on a topic and will provide facts and figures from their research. Use these facts and figures to further your essay!
  • short quotesDid your source say something really interesting, concise or surprising? Great! He cancite this source in your essay.
  • New ideas.Your source can provide a different perspective, angle, or information to add to your paragraph to make it a deep, detailed, and interesting paragraph.

Ultimately, the reason we ask for your reference is because it's good for you - it helps you learn!

4. References support your claims

You might think that you already know a lot of information on this topic and are ready to share your mountains of knowledge with your teacher. Great!

So should you still reference?

Yes, in any case.

You have to show that you're not the only one with your opinion. He must "stand on the shoulders of giants." Show what other sources have said about your points to show that the experts agree with you.

You must say: This is my opinion.and is based on facts, expert opinion and full and careful consideration of all existing arguments..

If you make a claim that no one else has made, your professor will say, "Have you read the evidence on the subject?" The answer, if there is no data, is probably no. you don't

Even if you disagree with the experts, you have to have your say! It should read: "That's the expert opinion. And here's why I don't agree."

So yes, you do need a reference to back up any claims. Try to reference twice in each paragraph to achieve this.

Let's start with our top strategies for referencing in an essay! These are strategies you've probably never heard of elsewhere. They work for everyone, from beginner to advanced! Let's start:

1. Print your reference style cheat sheet

References are difficult and very specific. You need to know where the italics go, where the commas go, and whether to use an initial for the author's full name.

There are so many details to get right.

And here's the bad news:Auto-referencing apps and websites are almost always wrong!They say they can create the offer for you. The fact is, you can't!

(Video) How to Write an Essay: 4 Minute Step-by-step Guide | Scribbr 🎓

This is the best way to get correct references:Download a reference cheat sheet and keep it by your side as you write your essay.

Your task outline should tell you what kind of references to use. Different styles include: APA style, MLA style, Chicago style, Harvard style, Vancouver style... and many more!

You need to figure out which style to use and download your cheat sheet. You can search Google to find a cheat sheet by typing into the Google bar:

How to Reference in an Essay (9 Strategies Top Students Use) (2023) (1)

Your university may also offer a cheat sheet.

Download a PDF version of the reference style cheat sheet, print it out, and place it on or near your bulletin board as you write your essay.

2. Cite only experts

heuGood and Bad Fontsquote in an essay.

You should only cite sources that have been written, peer-reviewed, and edited by experts. This shows that you are capable of finding reliable information. He didn't just use information that some older person posted on his blog. Don't just get information from your local newspaper. Instead, you got information from the person who is an absolute expert in the field.

Here's an infographic listing the sources you should and shouldn't cite. Feel free to share this infographic on social media, with your teachers and friends:

How to Reference in an Essay (9 Strategies Top Students Use) (2023) (2)

3. Always use Google Scholar

Ever. To load. Google. scholars.

Ten years ago, students only had their online search database to find articles. These college databases suck. You rarely find the best fonts and there is always a huge mix of completely irrelevant fonts.

Google Scholar is best for finding the fonts you want. This is because it goes through the entire article summary and analyzes it to see if it is relevant to your search terms. In contrast, most university research databases rely solely on article titles.

Harness the power of the world's highest quality search enginefind scientific sources.

To use: Google and Google ScholarThese are different search engines.

To use Google Scholar go to:

Then search with keywords in Google Scholar. I'm going to look for keywords for an essay on the topic: "What are the qualities of a good nurse?"

How to Reference in an Essay (9 Strategies Top Students Use) (2023) (3)

Here's what popped up when I pressed search:

How to Reference in an Essay (9 Strategies Top Students Use) (2023) (4)

Notice that the top source on this list doesn't have a link to a PDF or HTML document next to it? This means you don't have direct access to it. You would probably have to pay for it. So look for sources that seem relevant and have a direct link to the source. I've circled these three fonts in red above.

If you really like the idea of ​​this first source, I recommend copying the title and trying your university's online searchable database. Your university may grant free access.

4. Cite at least 50% of the sources you found in your own research

Well, I told them they should cite both the assigned readings and the readings they find in Google Scholar.

This is the ideal combination of attributed fonts and fonts you found: 50/50.

Your professor will want you to use the assigned readings and do your own additional research.write a superior essay. It shows that you have excellent research skills, but also pay attention to what is being taught in class.

I recommend that you start with the indicated readings and try to gather as much information as possible, and then use Google Scholar to find your own additional sources.

(Video) How to format your paper in APA style in 2023

So if your essay has 10 citations, a good combination is 5 assigned reads and 5 self-discovered reads.

5. Cite recent sources

Generally,the more recent the source, the better.

The best rule of thumb that most professors follow is that you should aim primarily to cite the sources of the text.last 10 years. Typically, when reviewing an essay, I accept sources from the last 15 years.

However, sometimes you have a really good font from 20, 30 or 40 years old. You should only cite these sources if they are so-called "texts with a promising future". A striking text is one written by an absolute giant in his field who revolutionized the field.

Here are some examples of seminal authors whose old papers you can cite even if they are old:

  • Education:Vygotsky, Friere, Piaget
  • Sociology:Weber, Marx, C. Wright Mills
  • Psychology:Freud, Rogers, Jung

Even when citing seminal authors, I always try to ensure that at least 80% of my sources were written within the last 10 years.

6. Reference twice per paragraph

How much should you reference?

Here's a good strategy:Provide two citations in each the main part of the test.

It is not mandatory to refer to themintroduction and conclusion. However, in all other paragraphs, point to double quotes.

Let's look at the main strategies to achieve this:

  • These two quotes must come from different sources, not the same sources twice;
  • Two citations per paragraph show that your points are supported by not one but two expert sources;
  • Put a quote in the first half of the paragraph and another in the second half. This tells your bullet point that every point throughout the paragraph is supported by your citations.

This is a good rule of thumb for you if you're not sure when and how often to look. If you're more confident with your recommendations, you can mix it up a bit.

7. Your font total must be at least 1 per 150 words

Of course, you can cite a source more than once throughout the essay. You can cite the same source in the second, fourth and fifth paragraphs. In order.

How to Reference in an Essay (9 Strategies Top Students Use) (2023) (5)

However, you don't want your entire essay to be based on a limited set of sources. You want your bookmark to show that you've consulted multiple sources for a variety of information about your topic. Your marker wants to know if you saw a variety of different opinions when you arrived at your conclusions.

When you reach the end of your essay, check how many sources are included in the final text reference list. A good rule of thumb is 1 referenced source for every 150 words. Here's how it breaks down by test size:

  • 1500 word essay: 10 sources (or more) listed in the reference list
  • 2,000-word essay: 13 sources (or more) listed in the bibliography
  • 3,000-word essay: 20 sources (or more) listed in the reference list
  • 5,000-word essay: 33 sources (or more) listed in the reference list

8. Instantly Improve Your Referral List With These Three Tips

Here are two things you can do to instantly grow your referral list. It takes less than 20 seconds and gives your list of references a solid professional finish:

a) Make sure the font size and style are the same

Typically, you will find that your entire list of references ends up in different font sizes and styles. This is because you tend to copy and paste titles and names into citations from other sources. If you send the reference list with font sizes and styles that don't match the rest of the essay, the piece will look very unprofessional.

So quickly highlight the entire list of references and change your font to the same font size and style as the rest of your essay. The screencast at the end of step 8 will guide you through these steps in case you need help!

b) List your sources alphabetically.

Almost all reference styles insist that references be listed alphabetically. It's an easy thing to do before shipping and it makes the piece look much more professional.

If you are using Microsoft Word, simply highlight your entire list of references and click the A>Z button on the toolbar. If you can't see it, you should be on the Home tab (circled below):

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How to Reference in an Essay (9 Strategies Top Students Use) (2023) (6)

c) Use a hanging indent in the bibliography

You've probably never heard of a French bleed. This is a style where the second line of the bibliography is indented further from the left side of the page than the first line. This is a strategy often used in reference lists provided in professional publications.

Using hanging indentation will make your list of references look much more professional.

Here's a short video of me doing it for you:

9. Make a special edit specifically for the reference style

Top students review their essays three to five times a week or more before submitting them. One of these changes should be specifically aimed at ensuring that your reference list conforms to the reference style required by your professor.

To do this, I recommend that you get the printed copy of the cheat sheet I mentioned in Step 1 and keep it by your side as you read the article. Pay special attention to the use of commas, capital letters, square brackets and page numbers for all citations. Also pay attention to the list of references: the correct format of the list of references can mean the difference between the best grade in the class and the fifth grade in the class. At the higher end of the rating scale, it gets competitive and the recommendation list format counts.

A brief overview of the top 9 strategies...

How to Reference in an Essay (9 Strategies Top Students Use) (2023) (7)Referencing is not easy. It can sometimes be the most frustrating part of a task. But getting it right can pay dividends when it comes to getting an A on your homework.

Follow the rules in your referencing style guide (and the cheat sheet I recommend!) and use the 9 tips above to improve your referencing and get the best grades. Not only will your reference look more professional, but the quality of your article content will likely increase if you follow these tips!

Here is a final rundown of the top 9 tips:

Strategies for referencing in an essay (9 top student strategies)

  1. Print your reference style cheat sheet
  2. Just quote experts
  3. Always use Google Scholar
  4. Cite at least 50% of the sources you found in your own research
  5. citing recent sources
  6. Reference twice per paragraph
  7. The sum of your fonts must be at least 1 by 150 words.
  8. Instantly Improve Your Referral List With These Three Tips
  9. Make a special edit specifically for the reference style.

Chris Drew (PhD)

website |+ publications

dr Chris Drew is the founder of Helpful Teacher. He holds a PhD in Education and has published over 20 articles in academic journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.

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