English Composition 2
Checklist: Using Online Sources
This page does not include everything that you should check as you write an essay that uses sources, but it does highlight some common problems to avoid. Please use this checklist to help you avoid or eliminate the problems.
An essay with plagiarism will receive a failing grade, so be especially careful to avoid plagiarism:
If you use material from a source and that material is not considered "general knowledge," make sure to cite your source for the material in the sentence where it is used.
You must cite your source in every sentence that includes material from a source.
If you copy a phrase of more than two words from a source, those words must go in quotation marks, and the source must be cited.
A sentence in your essay with no reference to a source indicates that both the ideas and the words in the sentence are you own. If this is not the case, you may have plagiarized.
Use just one space before the parenthetical citation, with no other spacing.
- This is "incorrect"(source).
- This is "incorrect" ( source).
- This is "correct" (source).
Integration of Quotations
Make sure that every quotation is integrated into one of your own sentences: never allow a quotation to stand alone in your essay.
Use the correct punctuation, if any is needed, as you integrate quotations into your sentences. If you unsure about the punctuation, review the Integrating Quotations into Sentences web page.
Put the period or comma after the parenthetical citation, and remove unnecessary punctuation that ends the quoted words in the source.
- This is "incorrect." (source)
- This is "incorrect." (source).
- This is "incorrect," (source).
- This is "incorrect;" (source)
- This is incorrect. (source).
- This is "correct" (source).
But keep question marks and exclamation points if they are part of the quotations.
- This is "correct!" (source).
Page Numbers in Parentheses
For online sources, give page, paragraph, or section numbers in parenthetical citations only if those numbers appear on the screen when you view that source. Do not use the page numbers that the web browser puts on printed copies of the source.
For most online sources, you should not include any page numbers.
In parenthetical citations, give the page, paragraph, or section number for only the part of the source where the specific information in the sentence can be found--do not cite the complete page numbers for the source.
What Goes in Parentheses
If you have an author for a source, put only the author's last name in parentheses.
- This is "incorrect" (full name).
- This is "correct" (last name).
If you cite a source with a page number, do not put any punctuation between the source and the page number.
- This is "incorrect" (source, 16)
- This is "correct" (source 16).
If you refer to the name or title of your source in a sentence, do not repeat the name or title in the parenthetical citation.
- Author says, "this is incorrect" (author 5).
- Author says, "this is correct" (5).
- Author says, "this is incorrect" (author).
- Author says, "this is correct."
If you cite the title of a web page in parentheses, and that title is in quotation marks on the "Works Cited" page, then the title should be in quotation marks in the parenthetical citation.
- This is "incorrect" (Title).
- This is "correct" ("Title").
Whatever appears in parenthetical citations in your essay must match whatever begins the listing for the source on the "Works Cited" page.
The "Works Cited" Page
Use the resources available to you to prepare the "Works Cited" page properly. Do not guess.
Our most helpful resource is the Preparing a Works Cited Page web site. We also have an example of a Works Cited page on our Sample Research Paper on Thematic Connections in Literature.
We are using the MLA (Modern Language Association) style of documentation, eighth edition, so make sure that any resources you consult to help you with the citation and documentation of sources refer to MLA 8 style.
- Whatever appears in parenthetical citations in your essay must match whatever begins the listing for the source on the "Works Cited" page.
- The words Works Cited must appear centered at the top of the page (with no quotation marks, no bold fonts, no underlining, no italics).
- All works must be listed in alphabetical order, according to each author's last name or according to the title if no author is given.
- The "Works Cited" page should be double spaced, with no extra spaces between the listed works.
- Titles of individual web pages or online articles go in quotation marks; titles of web sites (comprised of many individual pages) and titles of sponsoring organizations are italicized.
- In titles, the first letter of each important word always is capitalized, even if capitalization is not used for the titles where you have located the source.
- The URLs (or web addresses) for sources always should be given on the Works Cited page.