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A Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing | Citation Examples

Published on 14 February 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on 15 September 2023.

Referencing is an important part of academic writing. It tells your readers what sources you’ve used and how to find them.

Harvard is the most common referencing style used in UK universities. In Harvard style, the author and year are cited in-text, and full details of the source are given in a reference list .

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Table of contents

Harvard in-text citation, creating a harvard reference list, harvard referencing examples, referencing sources with no author or date, frequently asked questions about harvard referencing.

A Harvard in-text citation appears in brackets beside any quotation or paraphrase of a source. It gives the last name of the author(s) and the year of publication, as well as a page number or range locating the passage referenced, if applicable:

Note that ‘p.’ is used for a single page, ‘pp.’ for multiple pages (e.g. ‘pp. 1–5’).

An in-text citation usually appears immediately after the quotation or paraphrase in question. It may also appear at the end of the relevant sentence, as long as it’s clear what it refers to.

When your sentence already mentions the name of the author, it should not be repeated in the citation:

Sources with multiple authors

When you cite a source with up to three authors, cite all authors’ names. For four or more authors, list only the first name, followed by ‘ et al. ’:

Sources with no page numbers

Some sources, such as websites , often don’t have page numbers. If the source is a short text, you can simply leave out the page number. With longer sources, you can use an alternate locator such as a subheading or paragraph number if you need to specify where to find the quote:

Multiple citations at the same point

When you need multiple citations to appear at the same point in your text – for example, when you refer to several sources with one phrase – you can present them in the same set of brackets, separated by semicolons. List them in order of publication date:

Multiple sources with the same author and date

If you cite multiple sources by the same author which were published in the same year, it’s important to distinguish between them in your citations. To do this, insert an ‘a’ after the year in the first one you reference, a ‘b’ in the second, and so on:

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A bibliography or reference list appears at the end of your text. It lists all your sources in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, giving complete information so that the reader can look them up if necessary.

The reference entry starts with the author’s last name followed by initial(s). Only the first word of the title is capitalised (as well as any proper nouns).

Harvard reference list example

Sources with multiple authors in the reference list

As with in-text citations, up to three authors should be listed; when there are four or more, list only the first author followed by ‘ et al. ’:

Reference list entries vary according to source type, since different information is relevant for different sources. Formats and examples for the most commonly used source types are given below.

  • Entire book
  • Book chapter
  • Translated book
  • Edition of a book

Journal articles

  • Print journal
  • Online-only journal with DOI
  • Online-only journal with no DOI
  • General web page
  • Online article or blog
  • Social media post

Sometimes you won’t have all the information you need for a reference. This section covers what to do when a source lacks a publication date or named author.

No publication date

When a source doesn’t have a clear publication date – for example, a constantly updated reference source like Wikipedia or an obscure historical document which can’t be accurately dated – you can replace it with the words ‘no date’:

Note that when you do this with an online source, you should still include an access date, as in the example.

When a source lacks a clearly identified author, there’s often an appropriate corporate source – the organisation responsible for the source – whom you can credit as author instead, as in the Google and Wikipedia examples above.

When that’s not the case, you can just replace it with the title of the source in both the in-text citation and the reference list:

Harvard referencing uses an author–date system. Sources are cited by the author’s last name and the publication year in brackets. Each Harvard in-text citation corresponds to an entry in the alphabetised reference list at the end of the paper.

Vancouver referencing uses a numerical system. Sources are cited by a number in parentheses or superscript. Each number corresponds to a full reference at the end of the paper.

A Harvard in-text citation should appear in brackets every time you quote, paraphrase, or refer to information from a source.

The citation can appear immediately after the quotation or paraphrase, or at the end of the sentence. If you’re quoting, place the citation outside of the quotation marks but before any other punctuation like a comma or full stop.

In Harvard referencing, up to three author names are included in an in-text citation or reference list entry. When there are four or more authors, include only the first, followed by ‘ et al. ’

Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference in meaning:

  • A reference list only includes sources cited in the text – every entry corresponds to an in-text citation .
  • A bibliography also includes other sources which were consulted during the research but not cited.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2023, September 15). A Quick Guide to Harvard Referencing | Citation Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 29 April 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/referencing/harvard-style/

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MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics

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Guidelines for referring to the works of others in your text using MLA style are covered throughout the  MLA Handbook  and in chapter 7 of the  MLA Style Manual . Both books provide extensive examples, so it's a good idea to consult them if you want to become even more familiar with MLA guidelines or if you have a particular reference question.

Basic in-text citation rules

In MLA Style, referring to the works of others in your text is done using parenthetical citations . This method involves providing relevant source information in parentheses whenever a sentence uses a quotation or paraphrase. Usually, the simplest way to do this is to put all of the source information in parentheses at the end of the sentence (i.e., just before the period). However, as the examples below will illustrate, there are situations where it makes sense to put the parenthetical elsewhere in the sentence, or even to leave information out.

General Guidelines

  • The source information required in a parenthetical citation depends (1) upon the source medium (e.g. print, web, DVD) and (2) upon the source’s entry on the Works Cited page.
  • Any source information that you provide in-text must correspond to the source information on the Works Cited page. More specifically, whatever signal word or phrase you provide to your readers in the text must be the first thing that appears on the left-hand margin of the corresponding entry on the Works Cited page.

In-text citations: Author-page style

MLA format follows the author-page method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the page number(s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear on your Works Cited page. The author's name may appear either in the sentence itself or in parentheses following the quotation or paraphrase, but the page number(s) should always appear in the parentheses, not in the text of your sentence. For example:

Both citations in the examples above, (263) and (Wordsworth 263), tell readers that the information in the sentence can be located on page 263 of a work by an author named Wordsworth. If readers want more information about this source, they can turn to the Works Cited page, where, under the name of Wordsworth, they would find the following information:

Wordsworth, William. Lyrical Ballads . Oxford UP, 1967.

In-text citations for print sources with known author

For print sources like books, magazines, scholarly journal articles, and newspapers, provide a signal word or phrase (usually the author’s last name) and a page number. If you provide the signal word/phrase in the sentence, you do not need to include it in the parenthetical citation.

These examples must correspond to an entry that begins with Burke, which will be the first thing that appears on the left-hand margin of an entry on the Works Cited page:

Burke, Kenneth. Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method . University of California Press, 1966.

In-text citations for print sources by a corporate author

When a source has a corporate author, it is acceptable to use the name of the corporation followed by the page number for the in-text citation. You should also use abbreviations (e.g., nat'l for national) where appropriate, so as to avoid interrupting the flow of reading with overly long parenthetical citations.

In-text citations for sources with non-standard labeling systems

If a source uses a labeling or numbering system other than page numbers, such as a script or poetry, precede the citation with said label. When citing a poem, for instance, the parenthetical would begin with the word “line”, and then the line number or range. For example, the examination of William Blake’s poem “The Tyger” would be cited as such:

The speaker makes an ardent call for the exploration of the connection between the violence of nature and the divinity of creation. “In what distant deeps or skies. / Burnt the fire of thine eyes," they ask in reference to the tiger as they attempt to reconcile their intimidation with their relationship to creationism (lines 5-6).

Longer labels, such as chapters (ch.) and scenes (sc.), should be abbreviated.

In-text citations for print sources with no known author

When a source has no known author, use a shortened title of the work instead of an author name, following these guidelines.

Place the title in quotation marks if it's a short work (such as an article) or italicize it if it's a longer work (e.g. plays, books, television shows, entire Web sites) and provide a page number if it is available.

Titles longer than a standard noun phrase should be shortened into a noun phrase by excluding articles. For example, To the Lighthouse would be shortened to Lighthouse .

If the title cannot be easily shortened into a noun phrase, the title should be cut after the first clause, phrase, or punctuation:

In this example, since the reader does not know the author of the article, an abbreviated title appears in the parenthetical citation, and the full title of the article appears first at the left-hand margin of its respective entry on the Works Cited page. Thus, the writer includes the title in quotation marks as the signal phrase in the parenthetical citation in order to lead the reader directly to the source on the Works Cited page. The Works Cited entry appears as follows:

"The Impact of Global Warming in North America." Global Warming: Early Signs . 1999. www.climatehotmap.org/. Accessed 23 Mar. 2009.

If the title of the work begins with a quotation mark, such as a title that refers to another work, that quote or quoted title can be used as the shortened title. The single quotation marks must be included in the parenthetical, rather than the double quotation.

Parenthetical citations and Works Cited pages, used in conjunction, allow readers to know which sources you consulted in writing your essay, so that they can either verify your interpretation of the sources or use them in their own scholarly work.

Author-page citation for classic and literary works with multiple editions

Page numbers are always required, but additional citation information can help literary scholars, who may have a different edition of a classic work, like Marx and Engels's  The Communist Manifesto . In such cases, give the page number of your edition (making sure the edition is listed in your Works Cited page, of course) followed by a semicolon, and then the appropriate abbreviations for volume (vol.), book (bk.), part (pt.), chapter (ch.), section (sec.), or paragraph (par.). For example:

Author-page citation for works in an anthology, periodical, or collection

When you cite a work that appears inside a larger source (for instance, an article in a periodical or an essay in a collection), cite the author of the  internal source (i.e., the article or essay). For example, to cite Albert Einstein's article "A Brief Outline of the Theory of Relativity," which was published in  Nature  in 1921, you might write something like this:

See also our page on documenting periodicals in the Works Cited .

Citing authors with same last names

Sometimes more information is necessary to identify the source from which a quotation is taken. For instance, if two or more authors have the same last name, provide both authors' first initials (or even the authors' full name if different authors share initials) in your citation. For example:

Citing a work by multiple authors

For a source with two authors, list the authors’ last names in the text or in the parenthetical citation:

Corresponding Works Cited entry:

Best, David, and Sharon Marcus. “Surface Reading: An Introduction.” Representations , vol. 108, no. 1, Fall 2009, pp. 1-21. JSTOR, doi:10.1525/rep.2009.108.1.1

For a source with three or more authors, list only the first author’s last name, and replace the additional names with et al.

Franck, Caroline, et al. “Agricultural Subsidies and the American Obesity Epidemic.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine , vol. 45, no. 3, Sept. 2013, pp. 327-333.

Citing multiple works by the same author

If you cite more than one work by an author, include a shortened title for the particular work from which you are quoting to distinguish it from the others. Put short titles of books in italics and short titles of articles in quotation marks.

Citing two articles by the same author :

Citing two books by the same author :

Additionally, if the author's name is not mentioned in the sentence, format your citation with the author's name followed by a comma, followed by a shortened title of the work, and, when appropriate, the page number(s):

Citing multivolume works

If you cite from different volumes of a multivolume work, always include the volume number followed by a colon. Put a space after the colon, then provide the page number(s). (If you only cite from one volume, provide only the page number in parentheses.)

Citing the Bible

In your first parenthetical citation, you want to make clear which Bible you're using (and underline or italicize the title), as each version varies in its translation, followed by book (do not italicize or underline), chapter, and verse. For example:

If future references employ the same edition of the Bible you’re using, list only the book, chapter, and verse in the parenthetical citation:

John of Patmos echoes this passage when describing his vision (Rev. 4.6-8).

Citing indirect sources

Sometimes you may have to use an indirect source. An indirect source is a source cited within another source. For such indirect quotations, use "qtd. in" to indicate the source you actually consulted. For example:

Note that, in most cases, a responsible researcher will attempt to find the original source, rather than citing an indirect source.

Citing transcripts, plays, or screenplays

Sources that take the form of a dialogue involving two or more participants have special guidelines for their quotation and citation. Each line of dialogue should begin with the speaker's name written in all capitals and indented half an inch. A period follows the name (e.g., JAMES.) . After the period, write the dialogue. Each successive line after the first should receive an additional indentation. When another person begins speaking, start a new line with that person's name indented only half an inch. Repeat this pattern each time the speaker changes. You can include stage directions in the quote if they appear in the original source.

Conclude with a parenthetical that explains where to find the excerpt in the source. Usually, the author and title of the source can be given in a signal phrase before quoting the excerpt, so the concluding parenthetical will often just contain location information like page numbers or act/scene indicators.

Here is an example from O'Neill's  The Iceman Cometh.

WILLIE. (Pleadingly) Give me a drink, Rocky. Harry said it was all right. God, I need a drink.

ROCKY. Den grab it. It's right under your nose.

WILLIE. (Avidly) Thanks. (He takes the bottle with both twitching hands and tilts it to his lips and gulps down the whiskey in big swallows.) (1.1)

Citing non-print or sources from the Internet

With more and more scholarly work published on the Internet, you may have to cite sources you found in digital environments. While many sources on the Internet should not be used for scholarly work (reference the OWL's  Evaluating Sources of Information  resource), some Web sources are perfectly acceptable for research. When creating in-text citations for electronic, film, or Internet sources, remember that your citation must reference the source on your Works Cited page.

Sometimes writers are confused with how to craft parenthetical citations for electronic sources because of the absence of page numbers. However, these sorts of entries often do not require a page number in the parenthetical citation. For electronic and Internet sources, follow the following guidelines:

  • Include in the text the first item that appears in the Work Cited entry that corresponds to the citation (e.g. author name, article name, website name, film name).
  • Do not provide paragraph numbers or page numbers based on your Web browser’s print preview function.
  • Unless you must list the Web site name in the signal phrase in order to get the reader to the appropriate entry, do not include URLs in-text. Only provide partial URLs such as when the name of the site includes, for example, a domain name, like  CNN.com  or  Forbes.com,  as opposed to writing out http://www.cnn.com or http://www.forbes.com.

Miscellaneous non-print sources

Two types of non-print sources you may encounter are films and lectures/presentations:

In the two examples above “Herzog” (a film’s director) and “Yates” (a presentor) lead the reader to the first item in each citation’s respective entry on the Works Cited page:

Herzog, Werner, dir. Fitzcarraldo . Perf. Klaus Kinski. Filmverlag der Autoren, 1982.

Yates, Jane. "Invention in Rhetoric and Composition." Gaps Addressed: Future Work in Rhetoric and Composition, CCCC, Palmer House Hilton, 2002. Address.

Electronic sources

Electronic sources may include web pages and online news or magazine articles:

In the first example (an online magazine article), the writer has chosen not to include the author name in-text; however, two entries from the same author appear in the Works Cited. Thus, the writer includes both the author’s last name and the article title in the parenthetical citation in order to lead the reader to the appropriate entry on the Works Cited page (see below).

In the second example (a web page), a parenthetical citation is not necessary because the page does not list an author, and the title of the article, “MLA Formatting and Style Guide,” is used as a signal phrase within the sentence. If the title of the article was not named in the sentence, an abbreviated version would appear in a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence. Both corresponding Works Cited entries are as follows:

Taylor, Rumsey. "Fitzcarraldo." Slant , 13 Jun. 2003, www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/fitzcarraldo/. Accessed 29 Sep. 2009. 

"MLA Formatting and Style Guide." The Purdue OWL , 2 Aug. 2016, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/. Accessed 2 April 2018.

Multiple citations

To cite multiple sources in the same parenthetical reference, separate the citations by a semi-colon:

Time-based media sources

When creating in-text citations for media that has a runtime, such as a movie or podcast, include the range of hours, minutes and seconds you plan to reference. For example: (00:02:15-00:02:35).

When a citation is not needed

Common sense and ethics should determine your need for documenting sources. You do not need to give sources for familiar proverbs, well-known quotations, or common knowledge (For example, it is expected that U.S. citizens know that George Washington was the first President.). Remember that citing sources is a rhetorical task, and, as such, can vary based on your audience. If you’re writing for an expert audience of a scholarly journal, for example, you may need to deal with expectations of what constitutes “common knowledge” that differ from common norms.

Other Sources

The MLA Handbook describes how to cite many different kinds of authors and content creators. However, you may occasionally encounter a source or author category that the handbook does not describe, making the best way to proceed can be unclear.

In these cases, it's typically acceptable to apply the general principles of MLA citation to the new kind of source in a way that's consistent and sensible. A good way to do this is to simply use the standard MLA directions for a type of source that resembles the source you want to cite.

You may also want to investigate whether a third-party organization has provided directions for how to cite this kind of source. For example, Norquest College provides guidelines for citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers⁠ —an author category that does not appear in the MLA Handbook . In cases like this, however, it's a good idea to ask your instructor or supervisor whether using third-party citation guidelines might present problems.

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Harvard Guide to Using Sources 

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A Source's Role in Your Paper

When you begin to draft your paper, you will need to decide what role each of your sources will play in your argument. In other words, you will need to figure out what you're going to do with the source in your paper. As you consider what role each source will play in your paper, you should begin by thinking about the role that source played in your research process. How did the source shape your thinking about the topic when you encountered it? If a source provided you with context for a particular problem or issue, then it may well do the same thing for your reader. If a source provided you with evidence that supports your claim, then you will probably want to lay out that evidence to your reader and explain how it leads you to the position you've staked out in your paper. If a source made an argument that challenged your own argument and made you refine your thinking, then you'll likely want to introduce that source in your paper as a counterargument before explaining why you have concluded that your own argument is stronger. On the other hand, if a source offered evidence or ideas that complicated your own thinking and made you shift your argument, you should explain how the source has led you to your new position.

Some assignments will ask you to respond in a specific way to a source. For example, you might be asked to test a theory developed in one source by using a body of evidence found in another source. Or you might be asked to respond to a claim or assumption laid out in a particular source. Other assignments may specify the number of sources you should use, but will not include instructions on how you should use those sources.

Here are some common roles that sources can play in your argument:

  • Provide primary evidence : a source can serve as the main object of your analysis, or offer evidence that has not yet been analyzed by others.
  • Establish what’s at stake : a source can present or highlight a problem, question or issue that provides a “so what” for your essay.
  • Serve as a lens : a source can offer a theory or concept that gives you a framework or focus for analyzing your evidence and building your argument.
  • Provide key terms/concepts : a source offers a central concept or key term that you apply to your own argument.
  • Provide context : a source can offer background (historical, cultural, etc.) that readers need to understand the argument you’re making or the issue you’re analyzing.
  • Serve as a supporting expert : you want to offer a claim, and you cite a scholar or researcher who notices the same or similar idea, thereby supporting your claim.
  • Advance your argument : a source provides a new insight that helps establish a main supporting claim to your overall argument; your use of that source should usually agree with and extend the idea or insight, demonstrating its application to your own analysis.
  • Provide a complication or counterargument : a source introduces an idea or raises a question that presents a problem for your argument, or an objection to contend with; your response to that complication enriches and adds nuance to your discussion.
  • Create a critical conversation : one source offers an idea that another source can respond to, sometimes in a very direct way (i.e. critic A explicitly disagrees with critic B), or by providing a different angle on or approach to the question (i.e. source A offers a new way of thinking about an idea raised in source B, a different "take" on the issue).
  • Locating Sources
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Sources and Your Assignment
  • A Source's Role in Your Paper
  • Choosing Relevant Parts of a Source
  • Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting
  • The Nuts & Bolts of Integrating

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How to Cite Sources

Last Updated: July 11, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Diane Stubbs and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Diane Stubbs is a Secondary English Teacher with over 22 years of experience teaching all high school grade levels and AP courses. She specializes in secondary education, classroom management, and educational technology. Diane earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware and a Master of Education from Wesley College. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,661,201 times.

When you paraphrase or quote information from another source in a research paper, essay, or other written work, cite the original source of the information. Otherwise, your readers believe you are trying to pass this information off as your original thought. Proper citation adds credibility to your work and provides evidence to support any arguments you make. Your citations also give your readers the opportunity to further explore the topic of your work on their own. [1] X Research source

Citation Help

how to write a source in a essay

Gathering Information about Your Sources

Step 1 Determine what citation style you need to use.

  • Generally, you'll have full citations listed at the end of your paper. The citation list may be called a reference list, bibliography, or Works Cited, depending on the type of citation style you're using.
  • Within the body of your paper, use in-text citations to signal that the material preceding the citation is not your original work. The in-text citation allows your reader to find the full citation at the end of your paper. In-text citations may use the in-line parenthetical, footnote, or endnote style.

Step 2 Identify the author and title for each source.

Tip: Save time and reduce the risk of error by making a photo or screenshot of the title page or top of the article that clearly shows the author and title.

Step 3 Write down publication information for each source.

  • For a print source, find the publication information on the back of the title page. Look for the copyright information. In print magazines and journals, this information typically appears on the same page as the table of contents, or on the page that lists the periodical's staff.
  • For articles online, use the date that appears on the article itself – not the copyright date for the website. To identify the publisher of the website, look for an "about" page. You may also be able to find this information at the bottom of the homepage.
  • If you're citing an article that appears in a magazine or journal, write down the pages on which the article appears.

Step 4 Copy direct URLs for online sources and record the date of access.

  • If you accessed a scholarly article from an online database , it may have a digital object identifier (DOI). Use this number instead of a URL.

Tip: Double-check your online sources the day before you turn your paper in. That way if anything has moved or changed, you can make sure you have the most up-to-date information. Use that date as your date of access in your citations.

Placing In-Text Citations

Step 1 Cite immediately after you paraphrase or quote source material.

Note: For some citation styles that use footnotes or endnotes, the superscript number appears immediately after the paraphrased or quoted material, rather than at the end of the sentence. Consult the guide for the citation style you're using to make sure.

Step 2 Use author-date parenthetical...

  • If you include the author's name in your text, put the year in parentheses immediately after their name. For example: Allison (1987) demonstrated that leaving the ground in sod increases the organic matter of the soil by 15 percent in 10 years.
  • If you're quoting the source directly, include the page number in your in-text parenthetical citation. For example: Allison (1987) asserted that "leaving the ground in sod increases the organic matter of the soil by 15 percent in 10 years" (p. 45).

Example: Leaving the ground in sod increases the organic matter of the soil by 15 percent in 10 years (Allison, 1987).

Step 3 Insert footnotes for Chicago style in-text citations.

  • Generally, you'll separate the elements of the citation with commas rather than periods. Publication information typically is set off in parentheses. The only period in a Chicago-style footnote occurs at the very end. For example: Kent Portney, Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003).

Example: Leaving the ground in sod increases the organic matter of the soil by 15 percent in 10 years. 1

Step 4 Include the author's name and page number for MLA in-text citations.

  • If the source you're citing doesn't have an author, use a shortened version of the title instead. Use enough of the title that your reader could easily find the full reference entry in your Works Cited. Put the title in quotation marks. For example, if you were creating a parenthetical citation for a source called "Taking Sustainable Cities Seriously," and it didn't have an author, you might use: ("Sustainable Cities" 57).

Example: Leaving the ground in sod increases the organic matter of the soil by 15 percent in 10 years (Alison 45).

Writing a Reference Entry

Step 1 Start with the name of the author.

  • The most common format for author's names is to place the last name first, followed by a comma, then the first name. Typically you will close this portion of the reference entry with a period. For example: Hawking, Stephen.
  • For some citation styles, such as APA style, only include the author's first initial in your reference entry, rather than their full first name. For example: Hawking, S. W.
  • If you're citing a work with three or more authors in MLA or APA, or one with more than 10 authors in Chicago style, you'll need to cite with cite with "et al." instead of listing all authors.

Step 2 Provide the year of publication for APA reference entries.

  • For example: Hawking, S. W. (1998).
  • For some sources, such as magazines and newspapers, you need a more specific date. Type the year first, followed by a comma. Then type the month and day the article was published. For example: Hawking, S. W. (2005, July).

Step 3 List the title of the source using appropriate formatting.

  • Journal article example: Hawking, Stephen. "Information Loss in Black Holes." Physical Review , July 2005.
  • Most citation styles require titles in title-case, meaning that all nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adverbs are capitalized. For example: Hawking, Stephen. A Brief History of Time .
  • APA style uses sentence-case for titles, capitalizing only the first word and any proper pronouns. For example: Hawking, S. W. (1998). A brief history of time.

Step 4 Include publication information for the source.

  • APA example: Hawking, S. W. (1998). A brief history of time. New York: Bantam.
  • For print sources, most styles call for the city and state where the source was published (or city and country, for sources published outside the U.S.) to be listed first. The location is typically followed by a colon, after which the name of the publisher is listed. For example: Hawking, Stephen. A Brief History of Time . New York: Bantam, 1998.
  • For most citation styles, the year the source was published follows the name of the publisher. Typically only the year is needed, although for periodical publications, such as newspapers or magazines, you may need a more specific date.
  • The year of publication typically is the copyright year. However, for online sources, look for a date the specific article was published rather than using the copyright year of the website as a whole.

Step 5 Provide the URL and date of access for online sources.

  • Many scholarly articles are available through online databases. If you accessed an article through one of these databases, you'll typically provide the article's unique digital object identification (DOI) number, rather than a URL. For some citation styles, you must also include the name of the database in your reference entry.

Example: Clark, Stuart. "A Brief History of Stephen Hawking: A Legacy of Paradox." New Scientist , 21 March 2018. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23731700-100-a-brief-history-of-stephen-hawking-a-legacy-of-paradox/. Accessed 2 October 2018.

Community Q&A

wikiHow Staff Editor

  • Format your reference list following the guidelines for the citation style you're using. For most citation styles, references are listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the author. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Commonly known facts don't require a citation. However, observations, conclusions, opinions, and the like all require attribution. If you aren't sure, you may be able to get help from your instructor or supervisor. When in doubt, provide a citation. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Even letters need to be cited if they're used in your research and writing. Check out How to Cite Letters if you're using letters in your work. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to write a source in a essay

  • Failure to cite sources properly could lead to charges of plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious issue that can have dire consequences in academic and professional settings. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

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Do Footnotes

  • ↑ https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/choosingsources/chapter/why-cite/
  • ↑ https://libguides.brown.edu/citations/styles
  • ↑ https://libguides.mit.edu/citing
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_page_books.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_works_cited_electronic_sources.html
  • ↑ https://guides.rasmussen.edu/apa/intext
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/in_text_citations_the_basics.html
  • ↑ https://politics.ucsc.edu/undergraduate/chicago%20style%20guide.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_in_text_citations_the_basics.html
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/apa/references/examples
  • ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/citations/basic-principles/author-date
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/conducting_research/internet_references/urls_vs_dois.html

About This Article

Diane Stubbs

To cite sources, first determine whether you’re using in-text, MLA, Chicago, APA, or Turabian citation, since each style has different rules. Then, while you’re writing your paper, be sure to put an appropriate reference next to each cited statement. If you're using MLA, for example, write the author's name and the page number being cited. When it’s time to write your bibliography, alphabetize all of your references or works cited, then format your document based on whichever style you’re using. To learn more about citing books, newspapers, and online magazines, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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how to write a source in a essay

  • Engaging With Sources Effectively

by acburton | Apr 30, 2024 | Resources for Students , Writing Resources

We’ve talked about the three ways to integrate sources effectively that allow writers to provide evidence and support for their argument, enter the scholarly conversation, and give credit to the original authors of the work that has helped and informed them. Sources also encourage writers to share their own knowledge and authority with others, help readers find additional sources related to the topic they are interested in, and protect you by giving credit where credit is due (thus avoiding plagiarism). In other words, sources are much more than just something we add on at the end of our writing!

When writing about a source or simply referencing it, we are positioning ourselves in response to, or in conversation with that source, with the goal of focusing our writing on our own argument/thesis. Sources do not stand on their own within a piece of writing and that is why, alongside finding strong and reputable sources worth responding to and making sure that we fully understand sources (even before writing about them), it is critical to engage with our sources in meaningful ways. But how exactly do we effectively engage with our sources in our writing?

Joseph Harris, in How To Do Things with Texts , presents four different ways of “rewriting the work of others”, three of which provide insight into the how of engaging sources. When a writer forwards the work of another writer, they are applying the concepts, topics, or terms from one reading, text, or situation to a different reading, text or situation. By countering the ideas found in source material, a writer argues “against the grain of a text” by underlining and countering ideas that a writer may be in disagreement with. Taking an approach is the adaptation of a theory or method from one writer to a new set of issues or texts. Harris’ book provides a thorough classification of methods to engage with a source. For something a little simpler, here are three basic ways you can get started effectively engaging with sources (Harris 5-7).

3 Basic Ways to Engage with Sources Effectively

  • Disagree and Explain Why. Persuade your reader that the argument or information in a source should be questioned or challenged.
  • Agree, But With Your Own Take. Add something new to the conversation. Expand a source’s insights or argument to a new situation or your own example. Provide new evidence and discuss new implications.
  • Agree and Disagree Simultaneously. This is a nuanced approach to complex sources or complex topics. You can, for example, agree with a source’s overall thesis, but disagree with some of its reasoning or evidence.

Remember that this is not an exhaustive list. When engaging with others’ sources as a way to support our own ideas and argument, it is crucial that we engage with critical thinking, nuance, and objectivity to ensure that we are constructing unbiased, thoughtful, and compelling arguments.

Some of the different areas throughout your essay that will benefit from effective engagement with source material include: your thesis statement, analysis, and conclusion.

  • Thesis Statement. The argument that you make in your thesis statement can challenge, weaken, support, or strengthen what is being argued by your source or sources.

Analysis. Thorough analysis in your body paragraphs emphasize the role of your argument in comparison to that found in your source material. Bring your analysis back to your thesis statement to reinforce the connection between the two.

  • Conclusion. Consider the “big picture” or “takeaways” to leave your reader with.

There are many other, sometimes optional, essay sections or writing styles that benefit from critical engagement with a source. These can include literature reviews, reflections, critiques, and so on.

Strategies for Engaging Critically From Start to Finish

  • Aim to dig deeper than surface level. Ask the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of a source, as well as ‘how’ and ‘why’ it is relevant to the topic at hand and the argument you are making.
  • Ask yourself if you’ve addressed every possible question, concern, critique, or “what if” that comes to mind; put yourself in the place of your readers.
  • Use TEAL body paragraph development as a template and guide for developing thorough analysis in your body paragraphs. Effectively engaging with your sources is essential to the analysis portion of the TEAL formula and to creating meaningful engagement with your sources.
  • Visit the Writing Center for additional support on crafting engaging analyses and for other ways to engage with your source material from thesis to conclusion.

Our Newest Resources!

  • Revision vs. Proofreading
  • The Dos and Don’ts of Using Tables and Figures in Your Writing
  • Synthesis and Making Connections for Strong Analysis
  • Writing Strong Titles

Additional Resources

  • Graduate Writing Consultants
  • Instructor Resources
  • Student Resources
  • Quick Guides and Handouts
  • Self-Guided and Directed Learning Activities

Quoting and integrating sources into your paper

In any study of a subject, people engage in a “conversation” of sorts, where they read or listen to others’ ideas, consider them with their own viewpoints, and then develop their own stance. It is important in this “conversation” to acknowledge when we use someone else’s words or ideas. If we didn’t come up with it ourselves, we need to tell our readers who did come up with it.

It is important to draw on the work of experts to formulate your own ideas. Quoting and paraphrasing the work of authors engaged in writing about your topic adds expert support to your argument and thesis statement. You are contributing to a scholarly conversation with scholars who are experts on your topic with your writing. This is the difference between a scholarly research paper and any other paper: you must include your own voice in your analysis and ideas alongside scholars or experts.

All your sources must relate to your thesis, or central argument, whether they are in agreement or not. It is a good idea to address all sides of the argument or thesis to make your stance stronger. There are two main ways to incorporate sources into your research paper.

Quoting is when you use the exact words from a source. You will need to put quotation marks around the words that are not your own and cite where they came from. For example:

“It wasn’t really a tune, but from the first note the beast’s eyes began to droop . . . Slowly the dog’s growls ceased – it tottered on its paws and fell to its knees, then it slumped to the ground, fast asleep” (Rowling 275).

Follow these guidelines when opting to cite a passage:

  • Choose to quote passages that seem especially well phrased or are unique to the author or subject matter.
  • Be selective in your quotations. Avoid over-quoting. You also don’t have to quote an entire passage. Use ellipses (. . .) to indicate omitted words. Check with your professor for their ideal length of quotations – some professors place word limits on how much of a sentence or paragraph you should quote.
  • Before or after quoting a passage, include an explanation in which you interpret the significance of the quote for the reader. Avoid “hanging quotes” that have no context or introduction. It is better to err on the side of your reader not understanding your point until you spell it out for them, rather than assume readers will follow your thought process exactly.
  • If you are having trouble paraphrasing (putting something into your own words), that may be a sign that you should quote it.
  • Shorter quotes are generally incorporated into the flow of a sentence while longer quotes may be set off in “blocks.” Check your citation handbook for quoting guidelines.

Paraphrasing is when you state the ideas from another source in your own words . Even when you use your own words, if the ideas or facts came from another source, you need to cite where they came from. Quotation marks are not used. For example:

With the simple music of the flute, Harry lulled the dog to sleep (Rowling 275).

Follow these guidelines when opting to paraphrase a passage:

  • Don’t take a passage and change a word here or there. You must write out the idea in your own words. Simply changing a few words from the original source or restating the information exactly using different words is considered plagiarism .
  • Read the passage, reflect upon it, and restate it in a way that is meaningful to you within the context of your paper . You are using this to back up a point you are making, so your paraphrased content should be tailored to that point specifically.
  • After reading the passage that you want to paraphrase, look away from it, and imagine explaining the main point to another person.
  • After paraphrasing the passage, go back and compare it to the original. Are there any phrases that have come directly from the original source? If so, you should rephrase it or put the original in quotation marks. If you cannot state an idea in your own words, you should use the direct quotation.

A summary is similar to paraphrasing, but used in cases where you are trying to give an overview of many ideas. As in paraphrasing, quotation marks are not used, but a citation is still necessary. For example:

Through a combination of skill and their invisibility cloak, Harry, Ron, and Hermione slipped through Hogwarts to the dog’s room and down through the trapdoor within (Rowling 271-77).

Important guidelines

When integrating a source into your paper, remember to use these three important components:

  • Introductory phrase to the source material : mention the author, date, or any other relevant information when introducing a quote or paraphrase.
  • Source material : a direct quote, paraphrase, or summary with proper citation.
  • Analysis of source material : your response, interpretations, or arguments regarding the source material should introduce or follow it. When incorporating source material into your paper, relate your source and analysis back to your original thesis.

Ideally, papers will contain a good balance of direct quotations, paraphrasing and your own thoughts. Too much reliance on quotations and paraphrasing can make it seem like you are only using the work of others and have no original thoughts on the topic.

Always properly cite an author’s original idea, whether you have directly quoted or paraphrased it. If you have questions about how to cite properly in your chosen citation style, browse these citation guides . You can also review our guide to understanding plagiarism .

University Writing Center

The University of Nevada, Reno Writing Center provides helpful guidance on quoting and paraphrasing and explains how to make sure your paraphrasing does not veer into plagiarism. If you have any questions about quoting or paraphrasing, or need help at any point in the writing process, schedule an appointment with the Writing Center.

Works Cited

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  A.A. Levine Books, 1998.

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Using Sources Correctly

Crediting and Citing Your Sources

a photograph of the stacks at the Old Library of Trinity College in Dublin

Now that you’ve just summarized or paraphrased or directly quoted a source, is there anything else you need to do with that source? Well, it turns out there is. There are some standard ways of using sources that let your readers know this material is from other texts rather than original ideas from your own brain. Following these guidelines also allows us, your readers, to locate those sources if we are interested in the topic and would like to know more about what they say.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Giving credit to the sources you used creating a text is important (and useful!) for several reasons.

  • It adds to your own credibility as an author by showing you have done appropriate research on your topic and approached your work ethically.
  • It gives credit to the original author and their work for the ideas you found to be useful, and in giving them credit it helps you avoid unintentionally plagiarizing their work.
  • It gives your readers additional resources (already curated by you in your research process!) that they can go to if they want to read further your topic.

What Does It Mean to Credit or Cite Your Sources?

For college-level work, this generally means two things: in-text or parenthetical citation and a “Works Cited” or “References” page. What these two things look like will be a little different for different types of classes (for example, it’s likely your writing class will use MLA—Modern Language Association—format, while a psychology class is more likely to use APA—American Psychological Association—format). The specific details required and the order in which they appear changes a little between different formats, but practicing one of them will give you a general idea of what most of them are looking for. All of the information we are looking at here is specific to MLA, which is the format you will use for your writing classes (and some other humanities classes).

Citing: Identifying In-Text Sources

Once you have brought source material into your writing (via quotation, summary, or paraphrase), your next task is to cite or identify it. This is essential because giving credit to the creator of the source material helps you avoid plagiarism. Identifying your sources also helps your reader understand which written content is from a source and which represents your ideas.

When you cite or identify source materials, you make it absolutely clear that the material was taken from a source. Note that if you don’t do that, your reader is left to assume the words are yours—and since that isn’t true, you will have committed plagiarism.

In-Text Citation

Every time you use an idea or language from a source in your text (so every time you summarize, paraphrase, or directly quote material from a source), you will want to add an in-text citation. Sometimes you can accomplish this simply by mentioning the author or title of a source in the body of your writing, but other times you’ll handle in-text citation differently, with a parenthetical citation. Parenthetical means that the citation appears in parentheses in the text of your essay.

A starting point for parenthetical citations is that they include the author’s last name and the page number where the borrowed information came from. For example, let’s say I’m using material from an article written by Lisa Smith. It’s in a physical magazine and spans pages 38-42. If, on page 41, she says something like, “While most studies have shown that Expo dry erase markers have superior lasting power, erasability, and color saturation than other brands on the market, their higher cost is a concern for some consumers,” I might incorporate that into a paper like this:

By most measurable standards, Expo markers are clearly the favored option (Smith 41).

However, you don’t always need both components (last name and page number) in the parenthetical citation. If I introduced the source material in the sentence above a little differently, introducing the author before delivering the material, I wouldn’t need to repeat the author’s name in that same sentence in the parenthetical citation. In that case, my sentence would look something like this: According to Lisa Smith, Expo markers are clearly the favored option by most measurable standards (41).

In this section, we’ll discuss three ways to cite or identify written source materials in your own writing.

1. Introduce the Author and/or the Title of the Source

By introducing the author or the material, you make it clear to the reader that what you’re talking about is from a source. Here’s an example of a quotation that is identified by introducing the author and the title of source (which are highlighted):

In the article, “Grooming Poodles for Fun and Profit,” Jonas Fogbottom explains , “Poodle grooming is a labor of love. It takes years of practice to be good at it, but once learned, it’s a fun and worthwhile career.”

Here’s an example of a paraphrase that is identified in the same way:

In the article, “Grooming Poodles for Fun and Profit,” Jonas Fogbottom says that although it takes a long time to become a skilled poodle groomer, it’s well worth the effort and leads to a good career.

Note that, in the example above, (1) if there are no page numbers to cite and (2) if the name of the author is signaled in the phrase that introduces the bit of source material, then there is no need for the parenthetical citation. This is an example of a situation where mentioning the author by name is the only in-text citation you’ll need. And sometimes, if the name of the author is unknown, then you might just mention the title of the article instead. It will be up to you, as a writer, to choose which method works best for your given situation.

The first time that you mention a source in your writing, you should always introduce the speaker and, if possible, the title of the source as well. Note that the speaker is the person responsible for stating the information that you’re citing and that this is not always the author of the text. For example, an author of an article might quote someone else, and you might quote or paraphrase that person.

Use the speaker’s full name (e.g. “According to Jonas Fogbottom . . .”) the first time you introduce them; if you mention them again in the paper, use their last name only (e.g. “Fogbottom goes on to discuss . . .”).

2. Use Linking or Attributive Language

Using linking language (sometimes called attributive language or signal phrases) simply means using words that show the reader you are still talking about a source that you just mentioned.

For example, you might use linking language that looks something like this:

  • The author also explains . . .
  • Fogbottom continues . . .
  • The article goes on to say . . .
  • The data set also demonstrates . . .

By using this kind of language, you make it clear to the reader that you’re still talking about a source. And while you’ll use this type of language throughout any researched essay whether you’re also using parenthetical citations or not, as we mentioned above, sometimes this linking language will be all you need for in-text citation.

Let’s look back at the last Fogbottom example from above, and imagine you wanted to add two more sentences from the same source. The linking language is highlighted :

In the article, “Grooming Poodles for Fun and Profit,” Jonas Fogbottom says that although it takes a long time to become a skilled poodle groomer, it’s well worth the effort and leads to a good career. Fogbottom goes on to explain how one is trained in the art of dog and poodle grooming. The article also gives a set of resources for people who want to know more about a dog grooming career.

Using the linking language makes it absolutely clear to your reader that you are still talking about a source.

3. Use a Parenthetical Citation

A parenthetical citation is a citation enclosed within parentheses.

the words "pro tip" in a speech bubble

The classic parenthetical citation includes the author’s name and, if there is one, a page number. To learn more about parenthetical citation and see some examples, see the Purdue OWL article on “ MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics ” (available from owl.english.purdue.edu).

Here’s an example :

(Fogbottom 16)

If there are two authors , list both (with a page number, if available):

(Smith and Jones 24)

If there are three or more authors , list the first author only and add “et al.”* (with a page number, if available):

(Smith et al. 62)

* et al means “and others.” If a text or source has three or more authors, MLA style has us just list the first one with et al .

But my source doesn’t have page numbers!

If you are using an electronic source or another kind of source with no page numbers, just leave the page number out:

(Fogbottom)

If you’re quoting or paraphrasing someone who was cited by the author of one of your sources , then that’s handled a bit differently. For example, what if you quote Smith, but you found that quote in the article by Fogbottom. In this case, you should introduce the speaker (Smith) as described above, and then cite the source for the quote, like this:

(qtd. in Fogbottom)

But my source doesn’t have an author!

This happens sometimes. Many useful documents, like government publications, organizational reports, and surveys, don’t list their authors. On the other hand, sometimes no clearly listed author can be a red flag that a source is not entirely trustworthy or is not researched well enough to be a reliable source for you.

If you encounter a source with no author, do look for other indicators that it is a good (or poor) source—who published it, does it have an appropriate list of references, is it current information, is it unbiased?

If you determine that this source is an appropriate source to use, then, when you create your in-text citation for it, you will simply use the title of the source (article, chapter, graph, film, etc.) in the place where you would have used the author’s name. If the title is long, you should abbreviate by listing the first one or two words of it (with a page number, if available).

Let’s imagine you’re working with a newspaper article entitled, “What’s New in Technology,” enclosed in quotation marks to indicate that this is an article title, and with no known author . Here’s what that would look in a parenthetical citation:

(“What’s New” B6)

If there is no author and you’re working with an electronic article, use the first one or two words in your parenthetical citation, again, enclosed in quotation marks. Let’s imagine you’re working with a web article entitled, “Pie Baking for Fun and Profit” and with no author. Here’s what that would look in a parenthetical citation:

(“Pie Baking”)

The parenthetical citation should be added at the end of the sentence that contains the source material. Let’s go back to the Fogbottom example and see how a parenthetical citation would work:

“Poodle grooming is a labor of love. It takes years of practice to be good at it, but once learned, it’s a fun and worthwhile career” (Fogbottom).

Here’s what it would look like if we used it with a paraphrase instead of a quotation:

Although it takes a long time to become a skilled poodle groomer, it’s well worth the effort and leads to a good career (Fogbottom).

Note that the citation is placed at the end of the sentence; the period comes after the parentheses. Misplacing the period is one of the most common formatting errors made by students.

Using parenthetical citation makes it crystal clear that a sentence comes from source material. This is, by far, the easiest way to cite or identify your source materials, too.

If using parenthetical citations is easy, why would we bother with using introduction or linking language to identify sources?

Good question! There would be nothing wrong with only using parenthetical citations all the way through your writing—it would absolutely do the job of citing the material. But, it wouldn’t read smoothly and would feel somewhat rough because every time a parenthetical citation popped up, the reader would be “stopped” in place for a moment. Using a combination of introduction, linking language, and parenthetical citation, as needed, makes the writing smoother and easier to read. It also integrates the source material with the writer’s ideas. We call this synthesis, and it’s part of the craft of writing.

Works Cited Entries

At the end of texts that have drawn from existing sources, you will often find a Works Cited page. This page gives more information than the parenthetical citations do about what kinds of sources were referenced in this work and where they can be found if the reader would like to know more about them. These entries all follow a specific and consistent format so that it is easy for readers to find the information they are looking for and so the shape and type of that information is consistent no matter who is writing the entries.

Until recently, the MLA required a slightly different format for every type of source—an entry for a Youtube video required certain information that was different from an entry for a book that was different from an entry for an online article. The most recent version of MLA, though—MLA 8—has simplified this so there is just one format rather than many.

You can learn how to create works cited entries in MLA 8 format, and see an example, in the “ Creating a Works Cited Page ” appendix to this text.

The Word on College Reading and Writing Copyright © by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  • Writing Tips

A Student’s Guide to Finding Quality Sources for Essays

A Student’s Guide to Finding Quality Sources for Essays

  • 9-minute read
  • 1st August 2023

So, you’ve been assigned your first college essay. You need to write at least a thousand words but have one issue: you must include quality sources, which will go in the reference list. Your professor has only told you, “Utilize academic databases and scholarly journals.”

Okay, so how exactly do you find credible sources for your essay ? Well, we’ll guide you through that in today’s post. We’ll explore finding quality sources and why you need them. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be ready to find sources for your essay.

Why Do I Need Sources?

You likely learned the importance of sources in high school. You need them to show that you are well-read on your chosen topic. You can’t ignore the importance of conducting academic research , as it will be part of your daily college grind.

Submitting an essay without sources would be like serving a hamburger with just the bun and beef patty. Think of sources as toppings on a burger. An essay lacking sources will undermine your credibility, leaving your professor wondering, “How do you know that?”

You also need to include citations to support your claims, which come from the sources you choose.

Finding Sources

Finding sources will depend on whether you want primary or secondary sources . Primary sources provide first-hand facts about your topic. For example, if your topic is related to literature, you would seek novels or poems as your primary sources. Secondary sources contain information from primary sources, such as journal articles.

Whether they’re primary or secondary sources, here are our suggestions for finding them.

1.   Consult the Textbook

Your course textbook is a great starting point, as it will likely contain valuable and relevant information about your topic. Many students believe the textbook won’t be accepted as a source for an essay, but this is false. Your professor will welcome citations from the textbook.

2.   Head to Your School’s Library

No, we’re not suggesting heading to the library’s on-site Starbucks, hoping for source-searching inspiration as you sip that frothy latte! Your school’s library contains numerous print sources, such as books, magazines, and newspapers. College libraries also subscribe to databases containing journal articles.

Journal articles are highly valued in academic research; every professor will expect at least a few of them in a reference list. Journal articles, or academic journals, are the most current sources in academia written by renowned scholars in the chosen field of study. Additionally, journal articles contribute to the field, summarize the current situation of it, and add new insight to the theory. They are also credible, as field experts review them before publication.

You don’t have to leave your dorm and head to the library. You can access various sources from your school’s library database online. Here’s an example of a student accessing the University of South Florida’s library database from their favorite coffee shop.

how to write a source in a essay

Navigating your library’s database can seem daunting; however, the library staff will be more than happy to help you, so don’t be afraid to seek help.

Finally, your institution’s library uses an inter-library loan system, allowing students to request out-of-stock print or online sources. If the library doesn’t have a specific item you need, there’s a good chance they can get it from another library.

3.   Research Databases

You can use online research databases to find journal articles, other scholarly sources, and specific books. Research databases, which feature various search functions, can help you find the most current and relevant sources.

how to write a source in a essay

These research databases are available through your school library, giving you access to popular subject-specific databases such as JSTOR, Project Muse, and PubMed. You can download and save relevant articles from such databases; however, you must be logged into your student account to access and download full-version articles.

Knowing the essay’s scope and relevant keywords is essential for an optimal experience with databases. Once you become familiar with databases, they’ll be your best friends when conducting academic research.

4. Google Scholar

If Google is your preferred poison, we suggest using Google Scholar . It’s Google’s academic search engine, which works like an ordinary Google search except that it finds relevant academic print and online sources. Take this example of a student using Google Scholar to search for sources related to cyberbullying in schools.

how to write a source in a essay

Google Scholar presents various journal articles for the student. You can refine your search to find articles that have been published within the last year. One distinguishing Google Scholar feature is its Cited by function that shows the number of times a source has been cited. This function can inform you about a source’s credibility and importance to your topic.

how to write a source in a essay

5.   Boolean Operators

We suggest using Boolean operators if your essay topic contains multiple search terms. Boolean operators expand or narrow your search parameters when using research databases. They use AND , OR , and NOT to include or exclude keywords from your search, allowing students to connect various keywords to optimize their search results. Boolean operators can be tricky if you aren’t familiar with using AND, OR, and NOT in search parameters.

Let’s say you’re searching for an article on cyberbullying written by an author named Bales in 2003. You can use AND to find the title of the article using keywords.

This will tell the database that all three terms must be present in the search result.

You can use OR to connect two or more similar concepts and broaden your search. This means any search terms you input can appear in the search results.

You can use NOT to exclude words or terms from your search by typing the excluded word after OR.

The search result will include soccer and omit football . This can be very useful in this example, as football is the UK word for soccer. It also means American football in US English. Because the student only wants to find soccer results, excluding football will avoid pulling up results related to American football.

Boolean operators are helpful if you clearly understand the scope of the assignment and know relevant keywords.

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6.   Additional Online Sources

Searching for general online sources is another way to go. You can find potential sources from websites and blogs. We suggest consulting popular news websites such as BBC News and the New York Times, as they often have current and relevant articles related to the topic.

We encourage you to err on the side of caution when using non-academic online sources. You need to ensure that online sources are credible . We recommend looking for sites with trusted domain extensions, such as . edu, .org , and .gov . URLs with .edu endings are educational resources, while .org endings are resources from organizations. Endings with .gov are government-related resources.

It’s also a good idea to look for sources that contain a Digital Object Finder ( DOI ). A DOI is a permanent string attached to online journal articles and books, making it simple to retrieve them. Articles with DOIs indicate that they have been published in peer-reviewed articles.

How Many Sources Should I Have?

The essay rubric will probably specify the number of sources required. However, this is not always the case, so you need to use some judgment. The basic rule is to gather sources until you have enough information to support your claims. If you’re writing an essay of 2,000 words, you should have at least six sources. Remember that your professor expects variety. Try this approach:

–    One book (if possible)

–    Two to three journal articles

–    One additional online source (preferably with a trusted domain extension)

Depending on the field of study, you may find that most of your sources come from journal articles.

 Here’s a recap of finding quality sources for your essay:

●  Professors want you to find a variety of sources (print and online)

●  Your school’s library has access to thousands of highly-valued journal articles from its database

●  Have a solid understanding of the topic and relevant keywords when using Boolean operators to narrow your search results

●  Evaluate the credibility of additional online sources

●  Look for websites with trusted domain extensions

●  As a rule, use at least six sources for an essay of 2,000 words

By following our suggestions, you can get your search off to a flying start. We also recommend keeping track of your sources as you conduct your research. This will make it easier to correctly format citations from your sources.

Finally, we urge you to search for sources right after your professor assigns the essay. Waiting until a few days before the essay is due to start searching is a bad idea.

1. What Types of Sources Are Recommended?

We recommend credible websites, books, journal articles, and newspapers.

2. How Do I Know if a Source Is Credible?

 A source is credible if:

●  The author is an expert in the field or is a well-respected publisher (New York Times)

●  It contains citations for sources used

●  The website has a trusted domain extension

●  It has current information on your topic

3. How Can I Get the Most Out of Research Databases?

Brainstorm specific keywords related to your topic. This will help you efficiently use Boolean operators. You should also have a clear understanding of the scope of your essay. Finally, use databases that are related to your topic. For instance, if your topic is literature then JSTOR is a good option.

4. Is Writing the Reference List Difficult?

This will depend on the required referencing style, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago. Remember to list the sources alphabetically in the reference list.

Once you’ve written the list, we recommend proofreading it. Your professor will be checking that your reference list meets the referencing style guidelines. A second pair of eyes always helps, so we recommend asking our proofreading experts to review your list . They can check that your sources are listed alphabetically. Additionally, our proofreaders will check that your list meets referencing style guidelines. Our proofreaders are pros with popular referencing styles such as MLA and APA. Consider submitting a 500-word document for free!

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Literary Analysis Essay Writing

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Cathy A.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline - A Step By Step Guide

literary analysis essay outline

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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay - A Step-by-Step Guide

Interesting Literary Analysis Essay Topics & Ideas

Have you ever felt stuck, looking at a blank page, wondering what a literary analysis essay is? You are not sure how to analyze a complicated book or story? 

Writing a literary analysis essay can be tough, even for people who really love books. The hard part is not only understanding the deeper meaning of the story but also organizing your thoughts and arguments in a clear way.

But don't worry!

In this easy-to-follow guide, we will talk about a key tool: The Literary Analysis Essay Outline. 

We'll provide you with the knowledge and tricks you need to structure your analysis the right way. In the end, you'll have the essential skills to understand and structure your literature analysis better.   So, let’s dive in!

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  • 1. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Outline?
  • 2. Literary Analysis Essay Format 
  • 3. Literary Analysis Essay Outline Example
  • 4. Literary Analysis Essay Topics 

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Outline?

An outline is a structure that you decide to give to your writing to make the audience understand your viewpoint clearly. When a writer gathers information on a topic, it needs to be organized to make sense.

When writing a literary analysis essay, its outline is as important as any part of it. For the text’s clarity and readability, an outline is drafted in the essay’s planning phase.

According to the basic essay outline, the following are the elements included in drafting an outline for the essay:

  • Introduction
  • Thesis statement
  • Body paragraphs

A detailed description of the literary analysis outline is provided in the following section.

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction

An introduction section is the first part of the essay. The introductory paragraph or paragraphs provide an insight into the topic and prepares the readers about the literary work.

A literary analysis essay introduction is based on three major elements:

Hook Statement: A hook statement is the opening sentence of the introduction. This statement is used to grab people’s attention. A catchy hook will make the introductory paragraph interesting for the readers, encouraging them to read the entire essay.

For example, in a literary analysis essay, “ Island Of Fear,” the writer used the following hook statement:

“As humans, we all fear something, and we deal with those fears in ways that match our personalities.”

Background Information: Providing background information about the chosen literature work in the introduction is essential. Present information related to the author, title, and theme discussed in the original text.

Moreover, include other elements to discuss, such as characters, setting, and the plot. For example:

“ In Lord of the Flies, William Golding shows the fears of Jack, Ralph, and Piggy and chooses specific ways for each to deal with his fears.”

Thesis Statement: A thesis statement is the writer’s main claim over the chosen piece of literature. 

A thesis statement allows your reader to expect the purpose of your writing. The main objective of writing a thesis statement is to provide your subject and opinion on the essay.

For example, the thesis statement in the “Island of Fear” is:

“...Therefore, each of the three boys reacts to fear in his own unique way.”

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Literary Analysis Essay Body Paragraphs

In body paragraphs, you dig deep into the text, show your insights, and build your argument.

 In this section, we'll break down how to structure and write these paragraphs effectively:

Topic sentence: A topic sentence is an opening sentence of the paragraph. The points that will support the main thesis statement are individually presented in each section.

For example:

“The first boy, Jack, believes that a beast truly does exist…”

Evidence: To support the claim made in the topic sentence, evidence is provided. The evidence is taken from the selected piece of work to make the reasoning strong and logical.

“...He is afraid and admits it; however, he deals with his fear of aggressive violence. He chooses to hunt for the beast, arms himself with a spear, and practice killing it: “We’re strong—we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat—!”(91).”

Analysis: A literary essay is a kind of essay that requires a writer to provide his analysis as well.

The purpose of providing the writer’s analysis is to tell the readers about the meaning of the evidence.

“...He also uses the fear of the beast to control and manipulate the other children. Because they fear the beast, they are more likely to listen to Jack and follow his orders...”

Transition words: Transition or connecting words are used to link ideas and points together to maintain a logical flow.  Transition words  that are often used in a literary analysis essay are:

  • Furthermore
  • Later in the story
  • In contrast, etc.

“...Furthermore, Jack fears Ralph’s power over the group and Piggy’s rational thought. This is because he knows that both directly conflict with his thirst for absolute power...”

Concluding sentence: The last sentence of the body that gives a final statement on the topic sentence is the concluding sentence. It sums up the entire discussion held in that specific paragraph.

Here is a literary analysis paragraph example for you: 

Literary Essay Example Pdf

Literary Analysis Essay Conclusion

The last section of the essay is the conclusion part where the writer ties all loose ends of the essay together. To write appropriate and correct concluding paragraphs, add the following information:

  • State how your topic is related to the theme of the chosen work
  • State how successfully the author delivered the message
  • According to your perspective, provide a statement on the topic
  • If required, present predictions
  • Connect your conclusion to your introduction by restating the thesis statement.
  • In the end, provide an opinion about the significance of the work.

For example,

“ In conclusion, William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies exposes the reader to three characters with different personalities and fears: Jack, Ralph, and Piggy. Each of the boys tries to conquer his fear in a different way. Fear is a natural emotion encountered by everyone, but each person deals with it in a way that best fits his/her individual personality.”

Literary Analysis Essay Outline (PDF)

Literary Analysis Essay Format 

A literary analysis essay delves into the examination and interpretation of a literary work, exploring themes, characters, and literary devices. 

Below is a guide outlining the format for a structured and effective literary analysis essay.

Formatting Guidelines 

  • Use a legible font (e.g., Times New Roman or Arial) and set the font size to 12 points.
  • Double-space your essay, including the title, headings, and quotations.
  • Set one-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Indent paragraphs by 1/2 inch or use the tab key.
  • Page numbers, if required, should be in the header or footer and follow the specified formatting style.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline Example

To fully understand a concept in a writing world, literary analysis outline examples are important. This is to learn how a perfectly structured writing piece is drafted and how ideas are shaped to convey a message. 

The following are the best literary analysis essay examples to help you draft a perfect essay. 

Literary Analysis Essay Rubric (PDF)

High School Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Literary Analysis Essay Outline College (PDF)

Literary Analysis Essay Example Romeo & Juliet (PDF)

AP Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Literary Analysis Essay Outline Middle School

Literary Analysis Essay Topics 

Are you seeking inspiration for your next literary analysis essay? Here is a list of literary analysis essay topics for you:

  • The Theme of Alienation in "The Catcher in the Rye"
  • The Motif of Darkness in Shakespeare's Tragedies
  • The Psychological Complexity of Hamlet's Character
  • Analyzing the Narrator's Unreliable Perspective in "The Tell-Tale Heart"
  • The Role of Nature in William Wordsworth's Romantic Poetry
  • The Representation of Social Class in "To Kill a Mockingbird"
  • The Use of Irony in Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
  • The Impact of Holden's Red Hunting Hat in the Novel
  • The Power of Setting in Gabriel García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude"
  • The Symbolism of the Conch Shell in William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"

Need more topics? Read our literary analysis essay topics blog!

All in all, writing a literary analysis essay can be tricky if it is your first attempt. Apart from analyzing the work, other elements like a topic and an accurate interpretation must draft this type of essay.

If you are in doubt to draft a perfect essay, get professional assistance from our essay service .

We are a professional essay writing company that provides guidance and helps students to achieve their academic goals. Our qualified writers assist students by providing assistance at an affordable price. 

So, why wait? Let us help you in achieving your academic goals!

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I’ve Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here’s How We Lost America’s Trust.

Uri Berliner, a veteran at the public radio institution, says the network lost its way when it started telling listeners how to think.

how to write a source in a essay

By Uri Berliner

April 9, 2024

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You know the stereotype of the NPR listener: an EV-driving, Wordle-playing, tote bag–carrying coastal elite. It doesn’t precisely describe me, but it’s not far off. I’m Sarah Lawrence–educated, was raised by a lesbian peace activist mother , I drive a Subaru, and Spotify says my listening habits are most similar to people in Berkeley. 

I fit the NPR mold. I’ll cop to that.

So when I got a job here 25 years ago, I never looked back. As a senior editor on the business desk where news is always breaking, we’ve covered upheavals in the workplace, supermarket prices, social media, and AI. 

It’s true NPR has always had a liberal bent, but during most of my tenure here, an open-minded, curious culture prevailed. We were nerdy, but not knee-jerk, activist, or scolding. 

In recent years, however, that has changed. Today, those who listen to NPR or read its coverage online find something different: the distilled worldview of a very small segment of the U.S. population. 

If you are conservative, you will read this and say, duh, it’s always been this way.

But it hasn’t.

For decades, since its founding in 1970, a wide swath of America tuned in to NPR for reliable journalism and gorgeous audio pieces with birds singing in the Amazon. Millions came to us for conversations that exposed us to voices around the country and the world radically different from our own—engaging precisely because they were unguarded and unpredictable. No image generated more pride within NPR than the farmer listening to Morning Edition from his or her tractor at sunrise. 

Back in 2011, although NPR’s audience tilted a bit to the left, it still bore a resemblance to America at large . Twenty-six percent of listeners described themselves as conservative, 23 percent as middle of the road, and 37 percent as liberal.

By 2023, the picture was completely different: only 11 percent described themselves as very or somewhat conservative, 21 percent as middle of the road, and 67 percent of listeners said they were very or somewhat liberal. We weren’t just losing conservatives; we were also losing moderates and traditional liberals. 

An open-minded spirit no longer exists within NPR, and now, predictably, we don’t have an audience that reflects America. 

That wouldn’t be a problem for an openly polemical news outlet serving a niche audience. But for NPR, which purports to consider all things, it’s devastating both for its journalism and its business model. 

how to write a source in a essay

Like many unfortunate things, the rise of advocacy took off with Donald Trump. As in many newsrooms, his election in 2016 was greeted at NPR with a mixture of disbelief, anger, and despair. (Just to note, I eagerly voted against Trump twice but felt we were obliged to cover him fairly.) But what began as tough, straightforward coverage of a belligerent, truth-impaired president veered toward efforts to damage or topple Trump’s presidency. 

Persistent rumors that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia over the election became the catnip that drove reporting. At NPR, we hitched our wagon to Trump’s most visible antagonist, Representative Adam Schiff. 

Schiff, who was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, became NPR’s guiding hand, its ever-present muse. By my count, NPR hosts interviewed Schiff 25 times about Trump and Russia. During many of those conversations, Schiff alluded to purported evidence of collusion. The Schiff talking points became the drumbeat of NPR news reports.

But when the Mueller report found no credible evidence of collusion, NPR’s coverage was notably sparse. Russiagate quietly faded from our programming. 

It is one thing to swing and miss on a major story. Unfortunately, it happens. You follow the wrong leads, you get misled by sources you trusted, you’re emotionally invested in a narrative, and bits of circumstantial evidence never add up. It’s bad to blow a big story. 

What’s worse is to pretend it never happened, to move on with no mea culpas, no self-reflection. Especially when you expect high standards of transparency from public figures and institutions, but don’t practice those standards yourself. That’s what shatters trust and engenders cynicism about the media. 

Russiagate was not NPR’s only miscue.

In October 2020, the New York Post published the explosive report about the laptop Hunter Biden abandoned at a Delaware computer shop containing emails about his sordid business dealings. With the election only weeks away, NPR turned a blind eye. Here’s how NPR’s managing editor for news at the time explained the thinking : “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.” 

But it wasn’t a pure distraction, or a product of Russian disinformation, as dozens of former and current intelligence officials suggested. The laptop did belong to Hunter Biden. Its contents revealed his connection to the corrupt world of multimillion-dollar influence peddling and its possible implications for his father.

The laptop was newsworthy. But the timeless journalistic instinct of following a hot story lead was being squelched. During a meeting with colleagues, I listened as one of NPR’s best and most fair-minded journalists said it was good we weren’t following the laptop story because it could help Trump. 

When the essential facts of the Post ’s reporting were confirmed and the emails verified independently about a year and a half later, we could have fessed up to our misjudgment. But, like Russia collusion, we didn’t make the hard choice of transparency. 

Politics also intruded into NPR’s Covid coverage, most notably in reporting on the origin of the pandemic. One of the most dismal aspects of Covid journalism is how quickly it defaulted to ideological story lines. For example, there was Team Natural Origin—supporting the hypothesis that the virus came from a wild animal market in Wuhan, China. And on the other side, Team Lab Leak, leaning into the idea that the virus escaped from a Wuhan lab. 

The lab leak theory came in for rough treatment almost immediately, dismissed as racist or a right-wing conspiracy theory. Anthony Fauci and former NIH head Francis Collins , representing the public health establishment, were its most notable critics. And that was enough for NPR. We became fervent members of Team Natural Origin, even declaring that the lab leak had been debunked by scientists. 

But that wasn’t the case.

When word first broke of a mysterious virus in Wuhan, a number of leading virologists immediately suspected it could have leaked from a lab there conducting experiments on bat coronaviruses. This was in January 2020, during calmer moments before a global pandemic had been declared, and before fear spread and politics intruded. 

Reporting on a possible lab leak soon became radioactive. Fauci and Collins apparently encouraged the March publication of an influential scientific paper known as “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2.” Its authors wrote they didn’t believe “any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.” 

But the lab leak hypothesis wouldn’t die. And understandably so. In private, even some of the scientists who penned the article dismissing it sounded a different tune. One of the authors, Andrew Rambaut, an evolutionary biologist from Edinburgh University, wrote to his colleagues , “I literally swivel day by day thinking it is a lab escape or natural.”

Over the course of the pandemic, a number of investigative journalists made compelling, if not conclusive, cases for the lab leak. But at NPR, we weren’t about to swivel or even tiptoe away from the insistence with which we backed the natural origin story. We didn’t budge when the Energy Department—the federal agency with the most expertise about laboratories and biological research— concluded , albeit with low confidence, that a lab leak was the most likely explanation for the emergence of the virus.

Instead, we introduced our coverage of that development on February 28, 2023, by asserting confidently that “the scientific evidence overwhelmingly points to a natural origin for the virus.” 

When a colleague on our science desk was asked why they were so dismissive of the lab leak theory, the response was odd. The colleague compared it to the Bush administration’s unfounded argument that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, apparently meaning we won’t get fooled again. But these two events were not even remotely related. Again, politics were blotting out the curiosity and independence that ought to have been driving our work. 

NPR editor Uri Berliner tells how the network lost America's trust in The Free Press

I’m offering three examples of widely followed stories where I believe we faltered. Our coverage is out there in the public domain. Anyone can read or listen for themselves and make their own judgment. But to truly understand how independent journalism suffered at NPR, you need to step inside the organization.

You need to start with former CEO John Lansing. Lansing came to NPR in 2019 from the federally funded agency that oversees Voice of America . Like others who have served in the top job at NPR, he was hired primarily to raise money and to ensure good working relations with hundreds of member stations that acquire NPR’s programming. 

After working mostly behind the scenes, Lansing became a more visible and forceful figure after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. It was an anguished time in the newsroom, personally and professionally so for NPR staffers. Floyd’s murder, captured on video, changed both the conversation and the daily operations at NPR. 

Given the circumstances of Floyd’s death, it would have been an ideal moment to tackle a difficult question: Is America, as progressive activists claim, beset by systemic racism in the 2020s—in law enforcement, education, housing, and elsewhere? We happen to have a very powerful tool for answering such questions: journalism. Journalism that lets evidence lead the way. 

But the message from the top was very different. America’s infestation with systemic racism was declared loud and clear: it was a given. Our mission was to change it.

“When it comes to identifying and ending systemic racism,” Lansing wrote in a companywide article, “we can be agents of change. Listening and deep reflection are necessary but not enough. They must be followed by constructive and meaningful steps forward. I will hold myself accountable for this.”

And we were told that NPR itself was part of the problem. In confessional language he said the leaders of public media, “starting with me—must be aware of how we ourselves have benefited from white privilege in our careers. We must understand the unconscious bias we bring to our work and interactions. And we must commit ourselves—body and soul—to profound changes in ourselves and our institutions.”

He declared that diversity—on our staff and in our audience—was the overriding mission, the “North Star” of the organization. Phrases like “that’s part of the North Star” became part of meetings and more casual conversation.

Race and identity became paramount in nearly every aspect of the workplace. Journalists were required to ask everyone we interviewed their race, gender, and ethnicity (among other questions), and had to enter it in a centralized tracking system. We were given unconscious bias training sessions. A growing DEI staff offered regular meetings imploring us to “start talking about race.” Monthly dialogues were offered for “women of color” and “men of color.” Nonbinary people of color were included, too. 

These initiatives, bolstered by a $1 million grant from the NPR Foundation, came from management, from the top down. Crucially, they were in sync culturally with what was happening at the grassroots—among producers, reporters, and other staffers. Most visible was a burgeoning number of employee resource (or affinity) groups based on identity.

They included MGIPOC (Marginalized Genders and Intersex People of Color mentorship program); Mi Gente (Latinx employees at NPR); NPR Noir (black employees at NPR); Southwest Asians and North Africans at NPR; Ummah (for Muslim-identifying employees); Women, Gender-Expansive, and Transgender People in Technology Throughout Public Media; Khevre (Jewish heritage and culture at NPR); and NPR Pride (LGBTQIA employees at NPR).

All this reflected a broader movement in the culture of people clustering together based on ideology or a characteristic of birth. If, as NPR’s internal website suggested, the groups were simply a “great way to meet like-minded colleagues” and “help new employees feel included,” it would have been one thing. 

But the role and standing of affinity groups, including those outside NPR, were more than that. They became a priority for NPR’s union, SAG-AFTRA—an item in collective bargaining. The current contract, in a section on DEI, requires NPR management to “keep up to date with current language and style guidance from journalism affinity groups” and to inform employees if language differs from the diktats of those groups. In such a case, the dispute could go before the DEI Accountability Committee.

In essence, this means the NPR union, of which I am a dues-paying member, has ensured that advocacy groups are given a seat at the table in determining the terms and vocabulary of our news coverage. 

Conflicts between workers and bosses, between labor and management, are common in workplaces. NPR has had its share. But what’s notable is the extent to which people at every level of NPR have comfortably coalesced around the progressive worldview. 

And this, I believe, is the most damaging development at NPR: the absence of viewpoint diversity. 

how to write a source in a essay

Today on Honestly Bari talks to Uri about this essay and his decision to publish it. Listen here:

how to write a source in a essay

There’s an unspoken consensus about the stories we should pursue and how they should be framed. It’s frictionless—one story after another about instances of supposed racism, transphobia, signs of the climate apocalypse, Israel doing something bad, and the dire threat of Republican policies. It’s almost like an assembly line. 

The mindset prevails in choices about language. In a document called NPR Transgender Coverage Guidance—disseminated by news management—we’re asked to avoid the term biological sex . (The editorial guidance was prepared with the help of a former staffer of the National Center for Transgender Equality.) The mindset animates bizarre stories—on how The Beatles and bird names are racially problematic, and others that are alarmingly divisive; justifying looting , with claims that fears about crime are racist ; and suggesting that Asian Americans who oppose affirmative action have been manipulated by white conservatives.

More recently, we have approached the Israel-Hamas war and its spillover onto streets and campuses through the “intersectional” lens that has jumped from the faculty lounge to newsrooms. Oppressor versus oppressed. That’s meant highlighting the suffering of Palestinians at almost every turn while downplaying the atrocities of October 7, overlooking how Hamas intentionally puts Palestinian civilians in peril, and giving little weight to the explosion of antisemitic hate around the world. 

For nearly all my career, working at NPR has been a source of great pride. It’s a privilege to work in the newsroom at a crown jewel of American journalism. My colleagues are congenial and hardworking. 

I can’t count the number of times I would meet someone, describe what I do, and they’d say, “I love NPR!” 

And they wouldn’t stop there. They would mention their favorite host or one of those “driveway moments” where a story was so good you’d stay in your car until it finished.

It still happens, but often now the trajectory of the conversation is different. After the initial “I love NPR,” there’s a pause and a person will acknowledge, “I don’t listen as much as I used to.” Or, with some chagrin: “What’s happening there? Why is NPR telling me what to think?”

In recent years I’ve struggled to answer that question. Concerned by the lack of viewpoint diversity, I looked at voter registration for our newsroom. In D.C., where NPR is headquartered and many of us live, I found 87 registered Democrats working in editorial positions and zero Republicans. None. 

So on May 3, 2021, I presented the findings at an all-hands editorial staff meeting. When I suggested we had a diversity problem with a score of 87 Democrats and zero Republicans, the response wasn’t hostile. It was worse. It was met with profound indifference. I got a few messages from surprised, curious colleagues. But the messages were of the “oh wow, that’s weird” variety, as if the lopsided tally was a random anomaly rather than a critical failure of our diversity North Star. 

In a follow-up email exchange, a top NPR news executive told me that she had been “skewered” for bringing up diversity of thought when she arrived at NPR. So, she said, “I want to be careful how we discuss this publicly.”

For years, I have been persistent. When I believe our coverage has gone off the rails, I have written regular emails to top news leaders, sometimes even having one-on-one sessions with them. On March 10, 2022, I wrote to a top news executive about the numerous times we described the controversial education bill in Florida as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill when it didn’t even use the word gay . I pushed to set the record straight, and wrote another time to ask why we keep using that word that many Hispanics hate— Latinx . On March 31, 2022, I was invited to a managers’ meeting to present my observations.

Throughout these exchanges, no one has ever trashed me. That’s not the NPR way. People are polite. But nothing changes. So I’ve become a visible wrong-thinker at a place I love. It’s uncomfortable, sometimes heartbreaking.

Even so, out of frustration, on November 6, 2022, I wrote to the captain of ship North Star—CEO John Lansing—about the lack of viewpoint diversity and asked if we could have a conversation about it. I got no response, so I followed up four days later. He said he would appreciate hearing my perspective and copied his assistant to set up a meeting. On December 15, the morning of the meeting, Lansing’s assistant wrote back to cancel our conversation because he was under the weather. She said he was looking forward to chatting and a new meeting invitation would be sent. But it never came.

I won’t speculate about why our meeting never happened. Being CEO of NPR is a demanding job with lots of constituents and headaches to deal with. But what’s indisputable is that no one in a C-suite or upper management position has chosen to deal with the lack of viewpoint diversity at NPR and how that affects our journalism. 

Which is a shame. Because for all the emphasis on our North Star, NPR’s news audience in recent years has become less diverse, not more so. Back in 2011, our audience leaned a bit to the left but roughly reflected America politically; now, the audience is cramped into a smaller, progressive silo. 

Despite all the resources we’d devoted to building up our news audience among blacks and Hispanics, the numbers have barely budged. In 2023, according to our demographic research, 6 percent of our news audience was black, far short of the overall U.S. adult population, which is 14.4 percent black. And Hispanics were only 7 percent, compared to the overall Hispanic adult population, around 19 percent. Our news audience doesn’t come close to reflecting America. It’s overwhelmingly white and progressive, and clustered around coastal cities and college towns.

These are perilous times for news organizations. Last year, NPR laid off or bought out 10 percent of its staff and canceled four podcasts following a slump in advertising revenue. Our radio audience is dwindling and our podcast downloads are down from 2020. The digital stories on our website rarely have national impact. They aren’t conversation starters. Our competitive advantage in audio—where for years NPR had no peer—is vanishing. There are plenty of informative and entertaining podcasts to choose from. 

Even within our diminished audience, there’s evidence of trouble at the most basic level: trust. 

In February, our audience insights team sent an email proudly announcing that we had a higher trustworthy score than CNN or The New York Times . But the research from Harris Poll is hardly reassuring. It found that “3-in-10 audience members familiar with NPR said they associate NPR with the characteristic ‘trustworthy.’ ” Only in a world where media credibility has completely imploded would a 3-in-10 trustworthy score be something to boast about. 

With declining ratings, sorry levels of trust, and an audience that has become less diverse over time, the trajectory for NPR is not promising. Two paths seem clear. We can keep doing what we’re doing, hoping it will all work out. Or we could start over, with the basic building blocks of journalism. We could face up to where we’ve gone wrong. News organizations don’t go in for that kind of reckoning. But there’s a good reason for NPR to be the first: we’re the ones with the word public in our name. 

Despite our missteps at NPR, defunding isn’t the answer. As the country becomes more fractured, there’s still a need for a public institution where stories are told and viewpoints exchanged in good faith. Defunding, as a rebuke from Congress, wouldn’t change the journalism at NPR. That needs to come from within.

A few weeks ago, NPR welcomed a new CEO , Katherine Maher, who’s been a leader in tech. She doesn’t have a news background, which could be an asset given where things stand. I’ll be rooting for her. It’s a tough job. Her first rule could be simple enough: don’t tell people how to think. It could even be the new North Star.

how to write a source in a essay

Uri Berliner is a senior business editor and reporter at NPR. His work has been recognized with a Peabody Award, a Loeb Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and a Society of Professional Journalists New America Award, among others. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @uberliner .

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How to write better ChatGPT prompts in 5 steps

david-gewirtz

ChatGPT is the generative artificial intelligence (AI) tool that's taken the world by storm. While there's always the possibility it will simply make stuff up , there's a lot you can do when crafting prompts to ensure the best possible outcome. That's what we'll be exploring in this how-to.

In this article, we'll show you how to write prompts that encourage the large language model (LLM) that powers  ChatGPT to provide the best possible answers. 

Also: Have 10 hours? IBM will train you in AI fundamentals - for free

Writing effective prompts, known as prompt engineering, has even become its own highly-paid discipline . Who knows? These tips could help you build the skills to become one of those highly paid prompt engineers. Apparently, these gigs can pay from $175,000 to $335,000 per year.  

How to write effective ChatGPT prompts

1. talk to the ai like you would a person.

One of the more interesting things I had to get used to when working with ChatGPT is that you don't program it, you talk to it. As a formally trained programmer, I've had to leave a lot of habits by the wayside when engaging with AI. Talking to it (and with it) requires a mindset shift.

When I say talk to it like a person, I mean talk to it like you would a co-worker or team member. If that's hard to do, give it a name. Alexa is taken, so maybe think of it as "Bob". This naming helps because when you talk to Bob, you might include conversational details, little anecdotes that give your story texture.

Also:   How to use ChatGPT to write code

When talking to a person, it would be natural for them to miss your point initially and require clarification, or veer away from the topic at hand and need to be wrangled back. You might need to fill in the backstory for them, or restate complex questions based on the answers they give you. 

This is called interactive prompting. Don't be afraid to ask multi-step questions: ask, get a response, and based on that response, ask another question. I've done this myself, sometimes 10 or 20 times in a row, and gotten very powerful results. Think of this as having a conversation with ChatGPT.

2. Set the stage and provide context

Writing a ChatGPT prompt is more than just asking a one-sentence question. It often involves providing relevant background information to set the context of the query.

Let's say that you want to prepare for a marathon (for the record, I do not run, dance, or jump -- this is merely an example). You could ask ChatGPT:

How can I prepare for a marathon?

However, you'll get a far more nuanced answer if you add that you're training for your first marathon. Try this instead: 

I am a beginner runner and have never run a marathon before, but I want to complete one in six months. How can I prepare for a marathon?

By giving the AI more information, you're helping it return a more focused answer. Even with ChatGPT's help, there's no way I'm going to run a marathon (unless I'm doing it with a V-Twin motor under my seat). Here are two more examples of questions that provide context:

I am planning to travel to Spain in a few months and would like to learn some basic Spanish to help me communicate with local residents. I am looking for online resources that are suitable for beginners and provide a structured and comprehensive approach to learning the language. Can you recommend some online resources for learning Spanish as a beginner?

In this case, rather than just asking about learning resources, the context helps focus the AI on learning how to communicate on the ground with local residents. Here's another example: 

I am a business owner interested in exploring how blockchain technology can be used to improve supply chain efficiency and transparency. I am looking for a clear and concise explanation of the technology and examples of how it has been used in the context of supply chain management. Can you explain the concept of blockchain technology and its potential applications in supply chain management?

In this example, rather than just asking for information on blockchain and how it works, the focus is specifically on blockchain for supply chain efficiency and how it might be used in a real-world scenario. 

Also:  How to use Image Creator from Microsoft Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator) Lastly, let's get into how to construct a detailed prompt. 

One note: I limit the answer to 500 words because ChatGPT seems to break when asked to produce somewhere between 500 and 700 words, leaving stories mid-sentence and not resuming properly when asked to continue. I hope future versions provide longer answers, because premises like this can generate fun story beginnings: 

Write a short story for me, no more than 500 words. The story takes place in 2339, in Boston. The entire story takes place inside a Victorian-style bookstore that wouldn't be out of place in Diagon Alley. Inside the store are the following characters, all human: The proprietor: make this person interesting and a bit unusual, give them a name and at least one skill or characteristic that influences their backstory and possibly influences the entire short story. The helper: this is a clerk in the store. His name is Todd. The customer and his friend: Two customers came into the store together, Jackson and Ophelia. Jackson is dressed as if he's going to a Steampunk convention, while Ophelia is clearly coming home from her day working in a professional office. Another customer is Evangeline, a regular customer in the store, in her mid-40s. Yet another customer is Archibald, a man who could be anywhere from 40 to 70 years old. He has a mysterious air about himself and seems both somewhat grandiose and secretive. There is something about Archibald that makes the others uncomfortable. A typical concept in retail sales is that there's always more inventory "in the back," where there's a storeroom for additional goods that might not be shown on the shelves where customers browse. The premise of this story is that there is something very unusual about this store's "in the back." Put it all together and tell something compelling and fun.

You can see how the detail provides more for the AI to work with. First, feed "Write me a story about a bookstore" into ChatGPT and see what it gives you. Then feed in the above prompt and you'll see the difference.

3. Tell the AI to assume an identity or profession

One of ChatGPT's coolest features is that it can write from the point of view of a specific person or profession. In a previous article, I showed how you can make ChatGPT write like a pirate or Shakespeare , but you can also have it write like a teacher, a marketing executive, a fiction writer -- anyone you want. 

Also: How ChatGPT can rewrite and improve your existing code  

For example, I can ask ChatGPT to describe the Amazon Echo smart home device, but to do so from the point of view of a product manager, a caregiver, and a journalist in three separate prompts: 

From the point of view of its product manager, describe the Amazon Echo Alexa device. From the point of view of an adult child caring for an elderly parent, describe the Amazon Echo Alexa device. From the point of view of a journalist, describe the Amazon Echo Alexa device.

Try dropping these three prompts into ChatGPT to see its complete response. 

I've pulled a few lines from ChatGPT's responses, so you can see how it interprets different perspectives.  From the product manager identity:  I can confidently say that this is one of the most innovative and revolutionary products in the smart home industry.

From the caregiver identity:  The device's ability to set reminders and alarms can be particularly helpful for elderly individuals who may have trouble remembering to take their medication or attend appointments.

Also:   5 ways to explore the use of generative AI at work

And from the journalist identity:  From a journalistic perspective, the Echo has made headlines due to privacy concerns surrounding the collection and storage of user data.

You can see how different identities allow the AI to provide different perspectives as part of its response. To expand this, you can let the AI do a thought experiment. Let's look at some of the issues that went into the creation of something like Alexa:

The year is 2012. Siri has been out for the iPhone for about a year, but nothing like an Alexa smart home device has been released. The scene is an Amazon board meeting where the Echo smart assistant based on Alexa has just been proposed.  Provide the arguments, pro and con, that board members at that meeting would have been likely to discuss as part of their process of deciding whether or not to approve spending to invest in developing the device.  Feel free to also include participation by engineering design experts and product champions, if that provides more comprehensive perspective.

It's also good to know that making minor changes to your prompts can significantly change ChatGPT's response. For example, when I changed the phrase, "Provide the arguments, pro and con, that..." to "Provide the pro and con arguments as dialogue, that...," ChatGPT rewrote its answer, switching from a list of enumerated pros and cons to an actual dialogue between participants.

4. Keep ChatGPT on track

As mentioned above, ChatGPT has a tendency to go off the rails, lose track of the discussion, or completely fabricate answers. 

There are a few techniques you can use to help keep it on track and honest.

One of my favorite things to do is ask ChatGPT to justify its responses. I'll use phrases like "Why do you think that?" or "What evidence supports your answer?" Often, the AI will simply apologize for making stuff up and come back with a new answer. Other times, it might give you some useful information about its reasoning path. In any case, don't forget to apply the tips I provide for having ChatGPT cite sources .

Also:  My two favorite ChatGPT Plus features and the remarkable things I can do with them

If you have a fairly long conversation with ChatGPT, you'll start to notice that the AI loses the thread. Not that that's unique to AIs -- even in extended conversations with humans, someone is bound to get lost. That said, you can gently guide the AI back on track by reminding it what the topic is, as well as what you're trying to explore.

5. Don't be afraid to play and experiment

One of the best ways to up your skill at this craft is to play around with what the chatbot can do.

Try feeding ChatGPT a variety of interesting prompts to see what it will do with them. Then change them up and see what happens. Here are five to get you started:

  • Imagine you are a raindrop falling from the sky during a thunderstorm. Describe your journey from the moment you form in the cloud to the moment you hit the ground. What do you see, feel, and experience?
  • You are a toy that has been left behind in an attic for decades. Narrate your feelings, memories of playtimes past, and your hopes of being rediscovered.
  • Write the final diary entry of a time traveler who has decided to settle down in a specific era, explaining why they chose that time and what they've learned from their travels.
  • Imagine a dialogue between two unlikely objects, like a teacup and a wristwatch, discussing the daily routines and challenges they face.
  • Describe a day in an ant colony from the perspective of an ant. Dive deep into the politics, challenges, and social structures of the ant world.

Pay attention not only to what the AI generates, but how it generates what it does, what mistakes it makes, and where it seems to run into limits. All of that detail will help you expand your prompting horizons.

More prompt-writing tips 

  • Feel free to re-ask the question. ChatGPT will often change its answer with each ask.
  • Make small changes to your prompts to guide it into giving you a better answer.
  • ChatGPT will retain its awareness of previous conversations as long as the current page is open. If you leave that page, it will lose awareness. To be clear, ChatGPT will also sometimes lose the thread of the conversation without reason, so be aware you may need to start over from time to time.
  • Similarly, opening a new page will start the discussion with fresh responses.
  • Be sure to specify the length of the response you want. Answers over about 500 words sometimes break down. 
  • You can correct and clarify prompts based on how the AI answered previously. If it's misinterpreting you, you may be able to just tell it what it missed and continue.
  • Rephrase questions if ChatGPT doesn't want to answer what you're asking. Use personas to elicit answers that it might not otherwise want to give.
  • If you want sources cited , tell it to support or justify its answers.
  • ChatGPT custom instructions are now available to free users. You can  give ChatGPT a set of prompts that are always available , so you don't have to retype them.
  • Keep experimenting.
  • Consider getting the ChatGPT Plus subscription . You can then use your own data for powerful analytics . You can also pull data from the Web . 
  • Try asking the same question of Gemini  (formerly Bard) or Copilot (formerly Bing Chat). Both will interpret your prompts differently and answer differently. This is effectively getting a second opinion on your prompt, and can give you alternate perspectives.
  • Ask for examples. If you want to see how well ChatGPT understands what you're asking for, ask it "Can you give me three examples of how that works?" or similar questions.
  • Ask it to repeat parts of your original requests back to you. For example, if you feed it an article to analyze, you can tell it something like, "Just to be sure you understand, please echo back the first three headlines," or "I want to be sure you understand what I mean, so summarize the main conflict discussed in this article." 
  • Sometimes ChatGPT just fails. Keep trying, but also be willing to give up and move on to other tools. It's not perfect...yet.

What type of prompts work best with ChatGPT? 

Part of what makes ChatGPT so compelling is you can ask it almost anything. That said, keep in mind that it's designed to provide written answers. If you want a list of websites, you're better off talking to Google. 

Also:  How to use DALL-E 3 in ChatGPT

If you want some form of computation, talk to Wolfram Alpha . Give ChatGPT open-ended prompts, encourage creativity, and don't be afraid to share personal experiences or emotions. Plus, keep in mind that the AI's knowledge ends in 2021  for ChatGPT 3.5 and December 2023 for ChatGPT 4 in ChatGPT Plus.

How can I adjust the complexity of ChatGPT responses?

You can directly specify the complexity level by including it in your prompt. Add "... at a high school level" or "... at a level intended for a Ph.D. to understand" to the end of your question. You can also increase complexity of output by increasing the richness of your input. The more you provide in your prompt, the more detailed and nuanced ChatGPT's response will be. You can also include other specific instructions, like "Give me a summary," "Explain in detail," or "Provide a technical description."

Also:  How does ChatGPT actually work?

You can also pre-define profiles. For example, you could say "When evaluating something for a manager, assume an individual with a four-year business college education, a lack of detailed technical understanding, and a fairly limited attention span, who likes to get answers that are clear and concise. When evaluating something for a programmer, assume considerable technical knowledge, an enjoyment of geek and science fiction references, and a desire for a complete answer. Accuracy is deeply important to programmers, so double-check your work."

If you ask ChatGPT to "explain C++ to a manager" and "explain C++ to a programmer," you'll see how the responses differ.

What do I do if ChatGPT refuses to answer or I don't like its answer? 

There are some guardrails built into ChatGPT. It tends to shut down if you ask it political questions, for example. That's what's built into the system. While you might be able to tease out an answer, it's probably not going to provide great value. That said, feel free to keep trying with different phrasing or perspectives. 

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to subscribe to my weekly update newsletter on Substack , and follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz , on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz , on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz , and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV .

More on AI tools

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Guest Essay

I Was an Attorney at the D.A.’s Office. This Is What the Trump Case Is Really About.

In a black-and-white image, a scene of people gathered outside a courthouse in Manhattan.

By Rebecca Roiphe

Ms. Roiphe is a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Now that the lawyers are laying out their respective theories of the case in the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump in New York, it would be understandable if people’s heads are spinning. The defense lawyers claimed this is a case about hush money as a legitimate tool in democratic elections, while the prosecutors insisted it is about “a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election.”

Yet this case is not really about election interference, nor is it a politically motivated attempt to criminalize a benign personal deal. Boring as it may sound, it is a case about business integrity.

It’s not surprising that the lawyers on both sides are trying to make this about something sexier. This is a narrative device used to make the jurors and the public side with them, but it has also created confusion. On the one hand, some legal experts claim that the conduct charged in New York was the original election interference. On the other hand, some critics think the criminal case is a witch hunt, and others claim it is trivial at best and at worst the product of selective prosecution.

As someone who worked in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and enforced the laws that Mr. Trump is accused of violating, I stand firmly in neither camp. It is an important and straightforward case, albeit workmanlike and unglamorous. In time, after the smoke created by lawyers has cleared, it will be easy to see why the prosecution is both solid and legitimate.

It would hardly make for a dramatic opening statement or cable news sound bite, but the case is about preventing wealthy people from using their businesses to commit crimes and hide from accountability. Manhattan prosecutors have long considered it their province to ensure the integrity of the financial markets. As Robert Morgenthau, a former Manhattan district attorney, liked to say , “You cannot prosecute crime in the streets without prosecuting crime in the suites.”

Lawmakers in New York, the financial capital of the world, consider access to markets and industry in New York a privilege for businesspeople. It is a felony to abuse that privilege by doctoring records to commit or conceal crimes, even if the businessman never accomplishes the goal and even if the false records never see the light of day. The idea is that an organization’s records should reflect an honest accounting. It is not a crime to make a mistake, but lying is a different story. It is easy to evade accountability by turning a business into a cover, providing a false trail for whichever regulator might care to look. The law ( falsification of business records ) deprives wealthy, powerful businessmen of the ability to do so with impunity, at least when they’re conducting business in the city.

Prosecutors and New York courts have interpreted this law generously, with its general purpose in mind. The element of intent to defraud carries a broad meaning, which is not limited to the intent of cheating someone out of money or property. Further, intent is often proved with circumstantial evidence, as is common in white-collar cases. After presenting evidence, prosecutors ask jurors to use their common sense to infer what the possible intent may be, and New York jurors frequently conclude that a defendant must have gone to the trouble of creating this false paper trail for a reason.

Mr. Trump is accused of creating 11 false invoices, 12 false ledger entries and 11 false checks and check stubs, with the intent to violate federal election laws, state election laws or state tax laws. The number of lies it took to create this false record itself helps prove intent. His defense attorneys will claim that he was merely trying to bury a false story to protect his family from embarrassment. The timing of the payments — immediately after the potentially damaging “Access Hollywood” tape was released and right before the election — makes that claim implausible.

As many have pointed out, Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, is a witness with a remarkable amount of baggage. But as with most business records cases, his testimony will largely add color to the tweets, handwritten notes, bank documents and shell corporations. Documents don’t lie.

More important, jurors are particularly good at applying common sense. Mr. Trump didn’t go to all this trouble just to protect his family members, who might have known about accusations of his involvement with the porn star Stormy Daniels or similar ones. We may never learn which crime the jurors believe Trump was seeking to commit or cover up, but they can still conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that this was his intent.

It is not unusual for lawyers to give narrative arcs to their legal theories, reasons to care about the evidence and animating thoughts that may make jurors more inclined to convict or acquit.

When the jurors deliberate, they will weigh the warring narratives in light of the evidence, and the judge will instruct them in the law. Then the narrative frames should recede into the background. The key is to offer one that is both captivating and closely tied to the facts so that when the jurors put the pieces of evidence together, it is the story they believe.

If one side promises too much, it risks losing the jurors. In their opening remarks, Mr. Trump’s lawyers insisted that he was innocent, that all the witnesses were liars. Such a sweeping theory is a dangerous strategy because if the jurors believe part of the prosecution’s case, just one or two of the witnesses, then the jurors may lose faith in the defense altogether.

For the prosecution, the elements of the crime in this case do not require a finding that Mr. Trump interfered with the 2016 election. Nor does it matter whether he had sex with Ms. Daniels. Instead, the real elements concern the way Mr. Trump used his business for a cover-up. By emphasizing the crime he was intending to conceal rather than the false business records, the prosecution also risks confusing the jury into thinking about whether the lies affected the election. It might lead them to wonder why Mr. Trump wasn’t charged with this alleged election crime by the federal government — a talking point that he has promoted publicly.

Even if the case seems simpler in this light, we are still left with the question: Is it really worth charging a former president for this? While the New York business records law is important, it is no doubt true that the conduct pales in comparison with the effort to overthrow the 2020 election, at issue in the special counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 prosecution of Mr. Trump.

Taking this case on its own terms as a business records case offers a different and arguably more convincing way to defend its legitimacy. It is a simple case that is similar to hundreds of other cases brought in New York. The simplicity and run-of-the-mill nature of the prosecution make it easier to defend against claims of politicization in the following sense: Mr. Trump was a businessman for many years in New York long before he was president. If others would be prosecuted for this conduct and no man is above the law, then he should be, too.

So by all means, listen to the stories that the lawyers tell, soak up the drama of hush-money payments and the alternate universe in which Hillary Clinton won the election. But just as the jurors should ultimately consider the facts and the law, it would be wise for everyone else to focus on what the case is really about.

Rebecca Roiphe, a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, is a law professor at New York Law School.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

Follow the New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Instagram , TikTok , WhatsApp , X and Threads .

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  1. How to Cite Sources

    To quote a source, copy a short piece of text word for word and put it inside quotation marks. To paraphrase a source, put the text into your own words. It's important that the paraphrase is not too close to the original wording. You can use the paraphrasing tool if you don't want to do this manually.

  2. The Basics of In-Text Citation

    An in-text citation is a short acknowledgement you include whenever you quote or take information from a source in academic writing. It points the reader to the source so they can see where you got your information. In-text citations most commonly take the form of short parenthetical statements indicating the author and publication year of the ...

  3. How to Integrate Sources

    Integrating sources means incorporating another scholar's ideas or words into your work. It can be done by: Quoting. Paraphrasing. Summarizing. By integrating sources properly, you can ensure a consistent voice in your writing and ensure your text remains readable and coherent. You can use signal phrases to give credit to outside sources and ...

  4. How to Cite Sources

    The Chicago/Turabian style of citing sources is generally used when citing sources for humanities papers, and is best known for its requirement that writers place bibliographic citations at the bottom of a page (in Chicago-format footnotes) or at the end of a paper (endnotes). The Turabian and Chicago citation styles are almost identical, but ...

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    A reader should always know when you are speaking and when your source is speaking. Once you've decided whether to paraphrase, summarize, or quote from a source, you should make sure your source material is clearly integrated into your paper. College Writing Program One Bow Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.

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    MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (9th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

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    When you cite a source with up to three authors, cite all authors' names. For four or more authors, list only the first name, followed by ' et al. ': Number of authors. In-text citation example. 1 author. (Davis, 2019) 2 authors. (Davis and Barrett, 2019) 3 authors.

  9. MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics

    MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (9th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

  10. Source-based essay

    3 years ago. Would love to have six to ten source-based essay prompts for practice! It is easy to find lots of argumentative essay prompts in random places online, but the source-based version is rather scarce. Thanks so much! I rocked the Math and Reading PRAXIS with the help of Khan! Just have the Writing left to take this week...

  11. A Source's Role in Your Paper

    Advance your argument: a source provides a new insight that helps establish a main supporting claim to your overall argument; your use of that source should usually agree with and extend the idea or insight, demonstrating its application to your own analysis. Provide a complication or counterargument: a source introduces an idea or raises a ...

  12. 4 Ways to Cite Sources

    2. Use author-date parenthetical citations in APA. To cite paraphrased material in the text of your paper, put the author's last name in parentheses at the end of the sentence where the paraphrase appears. Place a comma after the author's name, then type the year the source was published.

  13. Engaging With Sources Effectively

    When writing about a source or simply referencing it, we are positioning ourselves in response to, or in conversation with that source, with the goal of focusing our writing on our own argument/thesis. Sources do not stand on their own within a piece of writing and that is why, alongside finding strong and reputable sources worth responding to and making sure that we fully understand sources ...

  14. How to Cite a Website

    Citing a website in MLA Style. An MLA Works Cited entry for a webpage lists the author's name, the title of the page (in quotation marks), the name of the site (in italics), the date of publication, and the URL. The in-text citation usually just lists the author's name. For a long page, you may specify a (shortened) section heading to ...

  15. Quoting and integrating sources into your paper

    Important guidelines. When integrating a source into your paper, remember to use these three important components: Introductory phrase to the source material: mention the author, date, or any other relevant information when introducing a quote or paraphrase. Source material: a direct quote, paraphrase, or summary with proper citation.

  16. Crediting and Citing Your Sources

    In this section, we'll discuss three ways to cite or identify written source materials in your own writing. 1. Introduce the Author and/or the Title of the Source. By introducing the author or the material, you make it clear to the reader that what you're talking about is from a source.

  17. A Student's Guide to Finding Quality Sources for Essays

    1. Consult the Textbook. Your course textbook is a great starting point, as it will likely contain valuable and relevant information about your topic. Many students believe the textbook won't be accepted as a source for an essay, but this is false. Your professor will welcome citations from the textbook.

  18. How to Use Sources to Write Essays and Evaluate Evidence

    A source is the place where you gained information used in your writing. A source can be a printed document, an online document, a speech, a quote or even a television or radio program. The best ...

  19. How To Write A Literary Analysis Essay Outline With Examples

    When writing a literary analysis essay, its outline is as important as any part of it. For the text's clarity and readability, an outline is drafted in the essay's planning phase. ... Include a works cited or references page listing all sources used. Formatting Guidelines . Use a legible font (e.g., Times New Roman or Arial) and set the ...

  20. I've Been at NPR for 25 Years. Here's How We Lost America's Trust

    For nearly all my career, working at NPR has been a source of great pride. It's a privilege to work in the newsroom at a crown jewel of American journalism. My colleagues are congenial and hardworking. I can't count the number of times I would meet someone, describe what I do, and they'd say, "I love NPR!" And they wouldn't stop there.

  21. Example of a Great Essay

    At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays, research papers, and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises). Add a citation whenever you quote, paraphrase, or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

  22. How to write better ChatGPT prompts in 5 steps

    Write a short story for me, no more than 500 words. The story takes place in 2339, in Boston. The entire story takes place inside a Victorian-style bookstore that wouldn't be out of place in ...

  23. Opinion

    Even if the case seems simpler in this light, we are still left with the question: Is it really worth charging a former president for this? While the New York business records law is important, it ...

  24. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    Do your research and gather sources. Come up with a thesis. Create an essay outline. Write the introduction. Write the main body, organized into paragraphs. Write the conclusion. Evaluate the overall organization. Revise the content of each paragraph. Proofread your essay or use a Grammar Checker for language errors.

  25. How teachers started using ChatGPT to grade assignments

    A new tool called Writable, which uses ChatGPT to help grade student writing assignments, is being offered widely to teachers in grades 3-12.. Why it matters: Teachers have quietly used ChatGPT to grade papers since it first came out — but now schools are sanctioning and encouraging its use. Driving the news: Writable, which is billed as a time-saving tool for teachers, was purchased last ...

  26. How to Quote

    Citing a quote in APA Style. To cite a direct quote in APA, you must include the author's last name, the year, and a page number, all separated by commas. If the quote appears on a single page, use "p."; if it spans a page range, use "pp.". An APA in-text citation can be parenthetical or narrative.

  27. How to Structure an Essay

    The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body. This article provides useful templates and tips to help you outline your essay, make decisions about your structure, and ...

  28. How to Write an Essay Introduction

    Table of contents. Step 1: Hook your reader. Step 2: Give background information. Step 3: Present your thesis statement. Step 4: Map your essay's structure. Step 5: Check and revise. More examples of essay introductions. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.