Noodletools: What's My Source???

Figuring Out What Kind of Resource You Have

The first decision you must make for each item in a bibliography is to determine what kind of resource it is. You will select from a list on a pull-down menu. The citation style (APA/MLA) determines the choices in the menu. While you may sometimes have to choose something that doesn't seem to quite fit what you have, almost all of your citations will match something on the list. The most common types of sources are listed below so that you can see what makes their citations distinctive. On this web page is information to help you decide what option to choose.

What distinguishes particular sources in citations?

Journal: Journals are periodicals. That means they come out at regular intervals. So they have volume and issue numbers. Typically they come out infrequently (2-6 times a year). Typically they run page numbers sequentially through an entire volume or year rather than restarting numbering with each issue. Often the publication will have the words Studies or Journal in the title, but not all journals are so named and not everything called a journal is one. Article titles tend to be descriptive and lengthy.

Magazine: Magazines also come out at regular intervals and may have volume and issue numbers. But more typically they will have dates of publication, monthly, bi-monthly or weekly. They restart page numbers with each issue. Publication titles tend to be short: one or two words, while article titles are clever and snappy, like advertising phrases.

Newspaper: Newspapers are also periodicals, typically coming out daily or weekly. While they may have a volume and issue (usually in the thousands), they are typically cited by date. Their page numbering is distinctive because it often includes section as well as number (ie., C4). Sometimes information about the edition is included as well if multiple editions are printed in a day or if there are both national and metro versions. Titles of newspapers often include words like: Times, Post, Courier or Gazette. Article titles tend to be short and pithy.

Books: Whole books are most distinctive by the fact that the publication information includes a year as well as a publisher and place of publication. If the work has been published multiple times, it will include edition information. It may also include volume information if it is a multivolume work, or information about a translator or editor.

Essay or Work in an Anthology: When a book contains the work of several different authors, their citations will include the regular book information (a year, publisher and place of publication) as well as an editor (Ed.). The author and title of the shorter work will be included as well as the title of the book itself. The page numbers of the selection will also be included.

Reference Works: Unlike most books, reference works rarely have a single author but do typically have a principal editor and editorial board. Often material from reference works will be cited as entries in an anthology, but if the entire work is being cited the number of volumes will be listed. For very well known reference works, the publication information is not included.

Web Pages: Items cited as web pages include those things found on the open internet rather than something retrieved through a database or articles retrieved from a magazine or journal published exclusively online (those are cited as articles in journals or magazines). Web page citations include certain critical information: the title of the page, the sponsoring organization (if possible), the author (if possible), the date last updated, the date viewed, and the web address or URL.

Materials from Databases: Items retrieved from the library's databases are cited according to their original format (journal, magazine, book, etc.), but additional information will be included in the citation. It will include the date on which the item was retrieved, the name of the database in which the material was found (Academic Search Premier, Opposing Viewpoints) and, depending upon the format, the vendor that provided the access to the database (Ebsco, Gale, etc.).

Reprints: Items reprinted in one form after being published in another are cited according to the form in which they originally appeared (so a journal article reprinted in a book would be cited as a journal article). The reprint information is simply included after the original's author and title. The remainder of the original publication information comes after the reprint publication information. If this is then reproduced in an online form, that information appears last in the citation.

Want additional practice? This page reviews some basic types of citations and offers clues to help you identify them. Then it provides a quiz so that you can check yourself.

Want more detailed assistance with MLA citation? Check out the OWL at Purdue (Online Writing Lab)

Want more detailed assistance with APA citation? Check out the OWL at Purdue (Online Writing Lab)

Want specific examples of DACC resources? Check out the Citing Your Sources and select either APA or MLA Style.

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Created September 19, 2007
Revised November 5, 2007

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