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How To Write A Good Essay: Basic Citing Rules

One of the factors that determine how much you score on a given essay is your ability to abide by the basic citation rules. What usually determines the type or style of format used in your citation is your field of study. For the purpose of this article, we shall analyze the basic rules of MLA citation. This format is mostly used by students in the field of Arts while Science and Engineering students utilize APA. As a new student, it will take a while before you get used to these citation styles but with steady practice, you are sure to get the hang of it, whether it is MLA or APA.

Listed below are some of the basic rules of citing your essay in MLA format. They are:

  • Use of URLs: The inclusion of URLs is no longer necessary when citing sources. Instead, the writer should type in the author’s name, article name and the name of the website. The only instance where you can include a URL is if the information provided will not be enough for your target readers to conveniently locate the cited source or sources.
  • Words Underlining: This has been effectively replaced with italicizing and is used when typing out titles of published works like periodicals and books.
  • Abbreviations: When you are citing web sources used in your essay, there is a requirement that the publisher’s name, date of publication and page numbers be written out. In a situation where there is no publisher name, you have to write n.p. to indicate that. When there’s no date of publication, you write n.d. to indicate that. If it is an online journal that does not come with pagination or has no print version, you are required to write n.pag. to indicate the absence of pagination.
  • Publication Medium: In citing sources in your essay, there is the need to include a marker showing the publication medium. Such mediums include DVD, Web, Print, TV etc. Such markers are usually placed at the end of each entry.
  • Page Numbers: When you are writing the page numbers of the sources used, there is a particular format that is used to shorten numbers with three or more digits. The second number is usually shortened to two digits. An example is: instead of writing 120-129, you can write, 120-29. It’s very simple.

A few other rules that would enhance the quality of your essay is using double spacing in your citation, use of indentation after the initial line of a given entry, the use of title when an author is not listed and lots of others.

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