One of the many challenges that students experience is referencing and citing their essays. Referencing and citations is always a daunting task for learners who do not comprehend the principles. Poor referencing and citations make learners to lose marks in their essay assignments; hence, it is critically important to take your time and effort to practice the correct way of referencing and citation. Knowing the steps on how-to on how to properly reference an essay will not only give make you develop the right referencing but also guarantee you a better score. When you start writing your essay, you must take into consideration the formatting style you are using. Every format has its way of referring and citation. Hence, knowing the format style that your paper requires is critically essential.

Why must you cite correctly?

  • To give credit to authors; referencing and citation is one way of acknowledging the original works of other authors.
  • Validating arguments; citations and referencing allow you to verify your arguments, proving to your instructor that facts from other scholars support your arguments.
  • Following up on the original work; it also enables your readers, particularly you instructors or your peers to follow up on the original work if they wish to. This allows them to justify your arguments on the paper.
  • A proof of your scope of knowledge; it also proves to your instructor that you have read vast information on the given subject by reviewing works written by other scholars.
  • Avoiding plagiarism; plagiarism is a punishable offence by many colleges and universities. An easy way to avoiding plagiarism is by recognizing and acknowledging other people’s original ideas.

Types of referencing and how they work

There are different types of references that might be assigned to you by your course instructor to use while writing your essay. They include Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago referencing style and Harvard Referencing style. Each of these referencing styles has their own rules. Hence, a student must learn how to use them while referencing their essays. Below is a summary of how to reference your essay using the aforementioned referencing styles.


APA is an ‘Author-Date’ formatting where the emphasis is given to the name of the author and date of the publication of the material used. There are two different types of referencing in APA and other formatting styles – the in-text citations and reference section at the end of your work. For references, include name of the author, followed by date the material was publicized, then the title of the material and the publisher in that order. Check out the following sample.

Jane, D., & Perez, L. A. (2019). Personality Traits. Willey.

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Note that the year of the publication of the material must be bracketed, must be preceded by a period and there must also be the period after the bracket. The references list entry has must contain all the information needed to follow up your source. When doing in-text citation for APA, ensure that you cite the name of the author and the date that the material was publicized wholly or partly in a round bracket.

Jane & Perez (2019), or (Jane & Perez, 2019).


Known as the American Psychological Association, MLA is an ‘author-page’ referencing format where the emphasis is pegged on the name of the author and the page number. While doing MLA, begin by the author’s last name, followed by the title of the source. See the example below.

Douglas. “Nationalism in America.” Routledge, 2006, pp. 31-50.

In-text Citation. (Douglas 42).

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Chicago and Turabian

Though two separate styles, Chicago and Turabian, are very similar. This referencing style uses footnotes and endnotes for the in-text citation. Include a bibliography at the end of your work while using Chicago and Turabian. In the bibliography section, include name of the author, followed by the source, the publisher, date of the publication and the page number. See the example below.

Brook, Alice. 2018. Swing Time: Penguin Press.

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Closely related to APA, Harvard is another popular style. It is an ‘author-date’ style. While referencing your essay using Harvard, start with author’s name, followed by the year the source was publicized, source title, name of the publishing company and page number where you retrieved the information. See the example below.

Douglas, B., 2006. Nationalism in America. Routledge, pp. 31-50.

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(Bagchi 1996, 42).

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Final thought

Citation and referencing are critically crucial while writing your essay. It helps you comply with academic convention, makes your work look professional and reveal that you appreciate other people’s work. It shows that like anyone else, you are a dwarf who climbs on the shoulders of the giants. However, one needs a better understanding of how to do citations and referencing. The above steps on how to properly reference an essay give you a guideline to making improvements on your reference. You can also visit other websites for further guidelines by accessing the links below. In need of further help from us? Make an order here

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