Documentation

One of the questions most frequently asked by our clients is how to document a particular source. There are several methods or "styles" of documentation, the two most common being APA and MLA. While we cannot provide model entries for each type of source you may have, below you will find models for the most common sources. Just click on the style you need to use, and you'll jump to those sources.

For more complete information including a source for CBE and Chicago Styles as well as MLA and APA, we've provided a handbook link (bottom of the page).

For those of you who have never used documentation before, we have included a documentation overview with a discussion of plagiarism.


Documentation Overview

The concept of documentation is really not that difficult. Simply put, a writer needs to acknowledge borrowings (ideas, quotations) from other people's work. Back in the "dark ages" writers used footnotes and bibliography pages to accomplish this acknowledgement. Eventually the techniques involved in acknowledging one's sources evolved into the system we now use, a combination of "internal" and "external" methods.

The "internal" part of documentation consists of parenthetical references placed inside the text of the writer's paper immediately after the borrowed material. Different "styles" of documentation (APA, MLA, Turabian, Chicago, etc.) differ in what you put in those parenthetical references (that's why it is so important to consult a handbook with examples of the particular style you've been told to use). If you were using MLA style and you began to quote a source, you would begin by using opening quotation marks, "and then you would quote word-for-word what was in the source. You would end by using end quotation marks" (Mark 2) followed by the author's last name and the page number on which that quotation is found. These internal references signal to the reader that he/she should refer to the Works Cited page for the full bibliographic information.

The "external" part of documentation consists of the Works Cited page and perhaps a Bibliography. There is no difference in the form of the entries for these two lists, but there is a difference in what sources get included. The Bibliography generally lists every outside source the writer has consulted (read, reviewed, used) in the preparation of the document. The Works Cited page lists only the sources the writer actually refers to directly in his/her paper. Sometimes a teacher or a publishing company will require just the Works Cited page; sometimes they may require both. The purpose of either list is to facilitate the reader's finding and consulting of the original sources. As the writer, you are sharing with the reader how to find these sources.

The part of documentation which usually gives writers the most difficulty is figuring out how to write the Works Cited entries. Again, you need to know what "style" you are supposed to be using, and then you need to follow the appropriate models for each source you are using. On the links below, you will find models for the most common types of source material in the APA and MLA styles.

The most important thing to remember is that it takes both the internal references and the external list of sources for documentation to be complete. Leaving one or the other out of your document would be plagiarism. See below for a more complete discussion of plagiarism.


Plagiarism

Someone who submits as his/her own work a paper (i.e., a thesis, draft, completed essay, examination, quiz, or any other written work), which is taken in whole or in part from another person's writing without proper acknowledgement (that is, the use of quotation marks and documented for directly quoted work or some sort of specific citation for paraphrased material), is guilty of plagiarism. Someone who submits a plagiarized paper or who allows another person to copy his/her work is subject to any or all of the following actions at ESU: (1) receiving no credit for the paper, (2) receiving an F grade for the course, and (3) being reported to the university for possible disciplinary action.