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Can you use References in the Introduction paragraph of an Essay
Information that is extracted from sources must be cited, even if the citation is in the introduction of your essay. Essay introductions are very important. But can you use references there?
They must grab the attention of the reader. If the definitions used in the introduction are extracted from a source, they must be cited to avoid plagiarism.
It’s not necessary to use references in the introduction paragraph of an essay if it is not required to do so. Do not use citations in the essay’s introduction if there is no need to include any work from external sources.
However, you can use references if the introduction must have an external citation that presents the topic.
When including citations in the introduction, make sure you consider the introduction’s word count. Introductions should not be too long. An introduction should comprise 5% of your essay.
Your credibility as a student or a writer is damaged if you use information from sources and you do not cite it. In-text citations are mostly used in introductions. These are citations that are inserted in the main text of your paper.
APA and MLA guidelines do not prohibit or require the use of citations in an introduction. APA and MLA provide sample papers on how to reference in essay introductions. It does not mean that they are required.
It is the choice of the writer to use them or not. Interesting statistics used to capture the attention of the readers should be cited.
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Why use references in an introduction paragraph.
The main reason why introductions should be referenced is to avoid plagiarism. This ensures that it is clear which ideas are your own and which are borrowed from other people and sources.
Referencing an introduction is important to acknowledge the work of other writers and researchers. Words or ideas of other writers should be cited.
Credit should be given to the writers of the work you have borrowed. It is a way of respecting the intellectual property rights of the writer.
References provide evidence that supports any claim or assertion in the introduction. This shows that you know the field you are introducing.
Using references in your introduction helps map your discipline’s space. You can easily navigate through the essay because you already know the route to follow.
The depth and breadth of your work are shown by references. Referenced work is detailed more than unreferenced work. References verify the introduction of your work.
If the introduction of your work is plagiarized, it is likely not to make it to print or into websites. A plagiarism-free paper will likely pass through all editing stages with minimal criticism. It is, therefore, important to attribute and cite all sources used in the introduction.
Why you Should not use References in an Introduction
Though referencing is not prohibited in introductions, it is good to avoid it in introductions. Introductions should not be too long. Every reference needs backing up, making your introduction longer than expected.
Introductions should include common knowledge that is available from many sources.
Common knowledge makes your introduction essay easier to understand.
Common knowledge should not be referenced.
Introductions should include general and observable facts that should not be referenced too.
Facts that are observable easily and generally accepted do not need to be cited.
Most introductions should have original ideas that will be talked about in the essay. There is usually no need to cite original ideas.
When references are used in the introduction of the essay and do not help grab the reader’s attention, then the references have not served their purpose in the introduction. Everything in the introduction should be simple and easy to grab the reader’s attention.
It is important to note that if information in the introduction was taken from different sources, it should be referenced to avoid plagiarism. In-text citations are mostly used in introductions.
Can you use References in a Summary?
Though references can be used in summary, new references should not be used in summaries. Summaries require writers to provide an account of the main points discussed in the essay.
References introduced in the summary may not be discussed fully because you have no space to do so.
The length of summaries is limited.
A summary is not a section where new ideas are introduced.
Ideas that have been introduced in the essay should be analyzed as main points in the summary.
APA referencing style provides samples on how to include references in summaries.
It does mean that it is prohibited or required. When references are used in the summaries they allow you to construct a better ending.
Yes, you should not be pulling a whole new argument, but a reference in your summary can help give it that refreshing touch just like the introduction and the body of your essay.
The convention of writing essays can be broken depending on the environment and scope of the work. It is up to the students and their instructors to determine whether or not to use references in essays.
Do you use References in the Conclusion?
Conclusions present the final answer of your essay or your main stand. It is unnecessary to reference your thoughts. Your thoughts are original. They don’t need referencing.
Conclusions answer the statement of the problem in the introduction of your essay.
No new ideas should be introduced in the conclusion.
This is why references are rarely used in conclusions.
The length of essay conclusions is limited.
References introduced in the conclusion will have to be explained, increasing the length of your essay. APA and MLA have samples of how to reference in the conclusion.
This means that it is not entirely prohibited. Ideas such as quotes that are used in the conclusion to stamp more authority should be referenced.
Ideas that are common knowledge do not need to be referenced. Whether or not to include references in the conclusion is the decision of an institution or an instructor.
Some institutions allow the use of references in conclusions while others do not. Instructors when given instructions on how to write an essay, can specify whether or not references can be used in a conclusion.
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How to Cite Sources in Introduction or Conclusion
In-text citations are mostly used in introductions and conclusions of essays. These citations are inserted in the main text of your paper. They let readers know where specific information was picked from.
In-text citation helps prevent plagiarism and gives writers credit for their work. All information that is borrowed must be cited to avoid plagiarism.
In-text citations are used in your paper using parentheses or a signal phrase.
Read more on how to mention an author in an essay and get insights on how this is done, whether using APA or MLA referencing styles.
1. Using a Signal Phrase
The author’s name is introduced, and page numbers are used at the end of the quotation or paraphrase. It aims to signal to the reader that a citation is coming soon in the introduction or conclusions.
Signal phrases can be used to cite information that appears for the first time in your essay. After that, you can use parenthetical citations. This is not recommended in your introduction or conclusion because it will make them long.
APA: According to Edwin Sutherland (1939), an American Sociologist, “differential association theory” ……. (p.243)
MLA: According to Edwin Sutherland, an American Sociologist, “differential association theory” (243)
2. Using Parenthetical Citations
Parentheses are used to show where the information used in the introduction or conclusion comes from. The author’s name must be included. In some cases, the page number and the year are included.
APA: the differential association theory is……… (Sutherland,1939, p.263)
MLA: the differential association theory is……… (Sutherland 243)
Josh Jasen or JJ as we fondly call him, is a senior academic editor at Grade Bees in charge of the writing department. When not managing complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In his spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.
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How to Write an Academic Essay with References and Citations
Written by Scribendi
If you're wondering how to write an academic essay with references, look no further. In this article, we'll discuss how to use in-text citations and references, including how to cite a website, how to cite a book, and how to cite a Tweet, according to various style guides.
You might need to cite sources when writing a paper that references other sources. For example, when writing an essay, you may use information from other works, such as books, articles, or websites. You must then inform readers where this information came from. Failure to do so, even accidentally, is plagiarism—passing off another person's work as your own.
You can avoid plagiarism and show readers where to find information by using citations and references.
Citations tell readers where a piece of information came from. They take the form of footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical elements, depending on your style guide. In-text citations are usually placed at the end of a sentence containing the relevant information.
A reference list , bibliography, or works cited list at the end of a text provides additional details about these cited sources. This list includes enough publication information allowing readers to look up these sources themselves.
Referencing is important for more than simply avoiding plagiarism. Referring to a trustworthy source shows that the information is reliable. Referring to reliable information can also support your major points and back up your argument.
Learning how to write an academic essay with references and how to use in-text citations will allow you to cite authors who have made similar arguments. This helps show that your argument is objective and not entirely based on personal biases.
How Do You Determine Which Style Guide to Use?
Often, a professor will assign a style guide. The purpose of a style guide is to provide writers with formatting instructions. If your professor has not assigned a style guide, they should still be able to recommend one.
If you are entirely free to choose, pick one that aligns with your field (for example, APA is frequently used for scientific writing).
Some of the most common style guides are as follows:
AP style for journalism
Chicago style for publishing
APA style for scholarly writing (commonly used in scientific fields)
MLA style for scholarly citations (commonly used in English literature fields)
Some journals have their own style guides, so if you plan to publish, check which guide your target journal uses. You can do this by locating your target journal's website and searching for author guidelines.
How Do You Pick Your Sources?
When learning how to write an academic essay with references, you must identify reliable sources that support your argument.
As you read, think critically and evaluate sources for:
Keep detailed notes on the sources so that you can easily find them again, if needed.
Tip: Record these notes in the format of your style guide—your reference list will then be ready to go.
How to Use In-Text Citations in MLA
An in-text citation in MLA includes the author's last name and the relevant page number:
How to Cite a Website in MLA
Here's how to cite a website in MLA:
Author's last name, First name. "Title of page."
Website. Website Publisher, date. Web. Date
With information from a real website, this looks like:
Morris, Nancy. "How to Cite a Tweet in APA,
Chicago, and MLA." Scribendi. Scribendi
Inc., n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2021.
How Do You Cite a Tweet in MLA ?
MLA uses the full text of a short Tweet (under 140 characters) as its title. Longer Tweets can be shortened using ellipses.
MLA Tweet references should be formatted as follows:
@twitterhandle (Author Name). "Text of Tweet." Twitter, Date Month, Year, time of
With information from an actual Tweet, this looks like:
@neiltyson (Neil deGrasse Tyson). "You can't use reason to convince anyone out of an
argument that they didn't use reason to get into." Twitter, 29 Sept. 2020, 10:15 p.m.,
How to Cite a Book in MLA
Here's how to cite a book in MLA:
Author's last name, First name. Book Title. Publisher, Year.
With publication information from a real book, this looks like:
Montgomery, L.M. Rainbow Valley. Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1919.
How to Cite a Chapter in a Book in MLA
Author's last name, First name. "Title of Chapter." Book Title , edited by Editor Name,
Publisher, Year, pp. page range.
With publication information from an actual book, this looks like:
Ezell, Margaret J.M. "The Social Author: Manuscript Culture, Writers, and Readers." The
Broadview Reader in Book History , edited by Michelle Levy and Tom Mole, Broadview
Press, 2015,pp. 375–394.
How to Cite a Paraphrase in MLA
You can cite a paraphrase in MLA exactly the same way as you would cite a direct quotation.
Make sure to include the author's name (either in the text or in the parenthetical citation) and the relevant page number.
How to Use In-Text Citations in APA
In APA, in-text citations include the author's last name and the year of publication; a page number is included only if a direct quotation is used:
(Author, 2021, p. 123)
How to Cite a Website in APA
Here's how to cite a website in APA:
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year, Month. date of publication). Title of page. https://URL
Morris, N. (n.d.). How to cite a Tweet in APA, Chicago, and MLA.
Tip: Learn more about how to write an academic essay with references to websites .
How Do You Cite a Tweet in APA ?
APA refers to Tweets using their first 20 words.
Tweet references should be formatted as follows:
Author, A. A. [@twitterhandle). (Year, Month. date of publication). First 20 words of the
Tweet. [Tweet] Twitter. URL
When we input information from a real Tweet, this looks like:
deGrasse Tyson, N. [@neiltyson]. (2020, Sept. 29). You can't use reason to convince anyone
out of an argument that they didn't use reason to get into. [Tweet] Twitter.
How to Cite a Book in APA
Here's how to cite a book in APA:
Author, A. A. (Year). Book title. Publisher.
For a real book, this looks like:
Montgomery, L. M. (1919). Rainbow valley.
Frederick A. Stokes Company.
How to Cite a Chapter in a Book in APA
Author, A. A. (Year). Chapter title. In Editor Name (Ed.), Book Title (pp. page range).
With information from a real book, this looks like:
Ezell, M. J. M. (2014). The social author: Manuscript culture, writers, and readers. In
Michelle Levy and Tom Mole (Eds.), The Broadview Reader in Book History (pp. 375–
394). Broadview Press.
Knowing how to cite a book and how to cite a chapter in a book correctly will take you a long way in creating an effective reference list.
How to Cite a Paraphrase in APA
You can cite a paraphrase in APA the same way as you would cite a direct quotation, including the author's name and year of publication.
In APA, you may also choose to pinpoint the page from which the information is taken.
Referencing is an essential part of academic integrity. Learning how to write an academic essay with references and how to use in-text citations shows readers that you did your research and helps them locate your sources.
Learning how to cite a website, how to cite a book, and how to cite a paraphrase can also help you avoid plagiarism —an academic offense with serious consequences for your education or professional reputation.
Scribendi can help format your citations or review your whole paper with our Academic Editing services .
Take Your Essay from Good to Great
Hire an expert academic editor , or get a free sample, about the author.
Scribendi's in-house editors work with writers from all over the globe to perfect their writing. They know that no piece of writing is complete without a professional edit, and they love to see a good piece of writing transformed into a great one. Scribendi's in-house editors are unrivaled in both experience and education, having collectively edited millions of words and obtained numerous degrees. They love consuming caffeinated beverages, reading books of various genres, and relaxing in quiet, dimly lit spaces.
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APA Style and APA Formatting
How to Research a Term Paper
MLA Formatting and MLA Style: An Introduction
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How to Reference Essays
Last Updated: May 19, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Alexander Peterman, MA . Alexander Peterman is a Private Tutor in Florida. He received his MA in Education from the University of Florida in 2017. There are 14 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 351,103 times.
When you begin writing a research essay, you must take into account the format of your writing and reference pages. There are several reference styles that may be assigned to you, including MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), and Chicago. Each one has its own set of rules. There's no need to familiarize yourself with all 3 unless you have to, but you do need to learn at least one if you’re in any field involving academic writing. Here are summaries of each style to help you start your essay on the right track.
Referencing Essays Templates
- You will need a citation directly after every sentence (or group of sentences if you're citing the same source in multiple consecutive sentences) containing information you didn't think of yourself. These include: paraphrases, facts, statistics, quotes, and examples.
- An in-text citation using MLA will simply have the author last name (or title if no author) followed by the page number. No comma between author and page number. For example: (Richards 456) Richards is the author last name, and 456 is the page number.
- If you have an author name (or title, if no author) but no page number, simply use author last name (or title).
- The easiest way to keep track of MLA citations while doing research is to copy and paste copyright information into a word processing document as you go, or to write it down in a notebook.
- Things to include for any source are author(s), date published, publisher, page number, volume and issue number, website, date accessed, anything that appears on the copyright page or indicates how to find it again.  X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
- As an example, the format for a standard book citation using MLA style is as follows: Last name of author, First name. Title of Book. City published: Publisher Name, Year published. Source Medium.
- An MLA website citation looks like the following. If there's no author listed, begin citation with the name of the page: Last name, first name. "Page Title." Website Title. Publisher. Date published. Source Medium. Date accessed.
- An MLA scholarly article citation looks like the following: Last name, First name. "Title of Article." Title of Journal . Volume.Issue (Year): page numbers. Source Medium.
- Write the title of the main work (book, magazine, journal, website, etc.) in italics, or underline if you’re writing references by hand.
- Chapter or article titles should be in quotation marks.
- If there is no author listed, as is common on websites, simply skip the author’s name and begin the entry with the title of the work.
- Alphabetize by the first letter that appears in the entry, whether it has an author name or not.
- The formatting should be in Times New Roman font, size 12, with “Works Cited” centered at the top of a new page.
- Each entry should have hanging indent, meaning all lines below the first line are indented by half an inch.
- Make sure there is a period after each section of the citations. A period should always end the citation.
- Place a parenthetical citation at the end of every sentence (or group of sentences if you're using the same source for multiple consecutive sentences) containing information you didn't know before doing research.
- An in-text citation using APA will simply have the author last name (or title if no author) followed by the year it was published. No comma between name and year. For example: (Richards 2005) Richards is the author last name, and 2005 is the year.
- If you have an author name (or title if no author) but no page number, simply use author last name (or title). This is common when citing websites.
- APA document formatting is very important. APA papers are divided up into 4 sections: the title page, the abstract, the main body, and the references page. The citations of a research paper using APA appear in the References section, the last portion of an APA document.  X Research source
- To form APA reference page citations, you will need such information as author name(s), date published, website URL, date you accessed the website, title of work, and so on.  X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
- For example, the format for an APA reference of a scholarly journal article is as follows: Author last name, First initial. (Year published). Article or chapter title. Journal or book title, Issue number , page number range.  X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
- The format for an APA book reference looks like: Last name, First name. (Year.) Title of Book: Capital letter also for subtitle . Location: Publisher.
- The format for an APA website reference looks like: Author, A.A. First name, & Author, B.B. (Date published.) Title of article. In Title of webpage or larger document or book (chapter or section number). Retrieved from URL address
- Capitalize the author's last name and first initial, followed by a period.
- Only capitalize the first word of a journal article title, unless the title contains a proper noun (called sentence case). Titles of books should preserve the published capitalization.
- Capitalize the city of publication, and use correct state abbreviations for states. Also capitalize the name of the publisher and end the reference with a period.
- The title of larger works, whether a book, journal, website, or magazine, is in italics (or underlined if handwriting), as is the issue number that appears right after the title. Titles for shorter works like articles and chapters should not have any indicative punctuation in an APA entry.  X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
- A period should end all citations.
Using Chicago Manual of Style
- For Notes and Bibliography, you will use a superscript at the instance of each quote in the text with a corresponding footnote at the end of the page. All footnotes are compiled into endnotes at the end of the work, on the bibliography page.  X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
- For Author Date, you will use parenthetical in-text citations that include author last name and year published, using no punctuation between name and year. The full version of each parenthetical citation is listed alphabetically on the references page. For example: (Simon 2011) Simon is the author last name, and 2011 is the year.
- You will need a citation directly after every sentence (or group of sentences if you're using the same source for multiple consecutive sentences) containing information you didn't think of yourself. These include: paraphrases, facts, statistics, quotes, and examples.
- If using a book, write down all pertinent information found on the copyright page, including the name of the publisher and the city and year of publication.
- For other sources, look for this information near the title of the piece you’re looking at. Publication date is often at the bottom of webpages.
- Title your references page “Bibliography” centered at the top of the page. Leave 2 blank lines between this title and the first entry, and one blank line between entries.
- Notes and Bibliography style uses footnotes for page endings and endnotes for chapter endings. The bibliography page will be an alphabetized list of all sources in hanging indent.
- An example format for a book is as follows: Last name, First name. Book Title . City: Publisher, Year.
- An example format for a chapter in a print scholarly journal is as follows: Author last name, first name. "Title of Chapter or Article." Book or journal Title Issue Number (Year): Page number range. (For an online scholarly journal article, tack on the following at the end: Date accessed. URL address.)
- When there is no known author, the entry should begin with the title of the document, whether it's a webpage, chapter, article, and so on.
- When there are multiple authors, the first listed author appears last name, first name, so that the citation is alphabetized by this author's last name. Subsequent authors are listed by first name, like this: Alcott, Louisa May, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Gaskell.
- Always end a citation with a period.
- When using Author Date style, title your references page “References” centered at the top of the page. Leave 2 blank lines between this title and the first entry, and 1 blank line between entries.
- Author Date style bibliographies should be organized alphabetically by last name (or by title if no author) in hanging indent.
- An example format for a book is as follows: Last name, first name. Year. Book Title . City Published: Publisher.
- An example format for a chapter in a print scholarly journal is as follows: Author last name, first name. Year. "Title of Chapter or Article." Book or journal title issue number: page numbers. (for an online scholarly journal article tack this onto the end: Date accessed. URL address.)
- An example format for a website is as follows: Name of Website. Year. "Page Title." Date last modified. Date accessed. URL address.
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- You don't have to write each bibliography or reference entry on your own. You can download citation management software like Endnote  X Research source (purchase required on this one), Zotero  X Research source (it's free), or use websites like http://www.bibme.org/ and http://www.easybib.com/ . Select the name of your style manual before you begin creating citations. Copy and paste the citation into your bibliography or references list. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- If you are assigned to write a paper or other written document in one of these styles, you need to purchase the style manual. It will contain nearly every instance not only of source citation, but paper formatting as well as grammar and punctuation that is unique to that style. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- This article only lists how to cite research for each style manual. Each style has its own instructions for setting up the format of the essay, including heading, spacing, margins, font, and so on. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_in_text_citations_the_basics.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_formatting_and_style_guide.html
- ↑ 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/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/in_text_citations_author_authors.html
- ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/reference_list_electronic_sources.html
- ↑ https://libguides.jcu.edu.au/apa/reference-list
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/reference_list_author_authors.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/reference_list_basic_rules.html
- ↑ https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/chicago_manual_of_style_17th_edition.html
- ↑ http://guides.nyu.edu/c.php?g=276562&p=1844734
- ↑ http://endnote.com
- ↑ https://www.zotero.org
About This Article
To reference an essay using MLA style, add a citation after any information you found through a source, like facts or quotes. When citing the reference, include the author’s name and the page number you pulled the information from in parenthesis, like “(Richards 456).” Once you’ve finished your essay, add a Words Cited page with all of the information you used to research your essay, like books or articles. To create a Works Cited page, list the sources in alphabetical order using the author’s last name, and include additional information, like year published and the medium. For more tips from our Writing reviewer, like how to reference an essay using APA style, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Understanding How, When and Why to Reference
Learn how to acknowledge your sources of information
It is important that you acknowledge your sources of information in your academic writing. This allows you to clearly show how the ideas of others have influenced your own work. You should provide a citation (and matching reference) in your essay every time you use words, ideas or information from other sources. If you would like to learn how, when and why to reference by watching a video, you can do so on Capstone Editing's YouTube channel .
Not referencing correctly can be perceived as plagiarism. It is expected and required at the university level that all your assignments will contain references. Otherwise, you are saying that the essay is made up entirely of your own original ideas, and that you have not engaged critically in any way with the literature. A passing grade requires that you use a minimum number of references (check your assignment marking criteria or ask your lecturer), and a good grade requires many more references than this. The purpose of referencing is to demonstrate the depth and breadth of your research, to show that you have read and engaged with the ideas of experts in your field. It also allows you to give credit to the writers from whom you have borrowed words or ideas. For your reader, referencing allows them to trace the sources of information you have used and to verify the validity of your work. For this reason, your referencing must be accurate and provide all necessary details to allow your reader to locate the source. It is therefore a good idea to keep careful records of all the sources you accessed when researching your assignment. This way, you do not have to hunt for these details after you have finished writing.
How to incorporate the ideas of others into your essay
It can be difficult for new academic writers to know how to incorporate others’ work into their own writing. By learning how to use quotations effectively, and how to summarise and paraphrase the words and ideas of others, you can better avoid unintentional plagiarism.
A quotation is a word-for-word reproduction of someone else’s words, either spoken or written. When quoting from another source, you must:
- Exception: For long quotations (e.g. over 40 words in APA or over 30 words in Harvard), indent the quotation instead of using quotation marks. The quotation should be introduced by a colon and followed by a citation.
- Use quotation marks even if only borrowing a single phrase or word from another source.
- Exception: If the source does not have numbered pages (e.g. a website, an interview), no page number is needed. However, if there is some other way of pointing to the specific location from which the quotation was taken (e.g. paragraph number, clause number, line in transcript), include that in the citation.
Quotations should be logically integrated into your text. One way to do this is to lead into the quotation or paraphrase by using the author’s name (e.g. ‘According to Lines,’) followed by the quotation from Lines or a summary of Lines’s ideas.
Quotations must fit grammatically into your text. It is allowable to modify quotations slightly to ensure a good fit. However, it is essential that these changes are clearly marked using square brackets ([ ]). It is also possible to omit words from a quotation, shown using an ellipsis (…). Note that if you omit words, you must be sure that the original meaning of the quotation is retained. You should never omit words to change the meaning of a quotation.
The below examples show ways to integrate the original quotation ‘Most of the time, they don’t, and I mean really don’t, behave well’, showing changes to 1) the verb and 2) a pronoun. Notice the use of the square brackets to show your modifications to the quotation, and the ellipsis to show omitted words.
- The teacher reported that the children were not ‘behav[ing] well’.
- According to the teacher, ‘Most of the time, [the children] don’t … behave well’.
Finally, you should avoid using quotations that have not been adequately introduced. If a quotation is inserted without appropriate integration into your text, this can negatively affect the logical and grammatical flow of your work, and lower the quality of your writing. Not introducing quotations or incorporating them into your own sentences usually also means you are relying too heavily on the words of others, and your grades can suffer as a result.
Summarising and paraphrasing
Another option for integrating others’ ideas into your own assignments is by summarising and paraphrasing. Summarising means giving an overview of the main ideas in condensed form. Paraphrasing means putting an idea (usually in detail) into your own words.
To summarise or paraphrase well, you need to read carefully and understand the ideas in the source. Then, you can think about what those ideas mean in the context of your assignment and write them in your own words, integrating them well into your own writing. If you take sentences completely from the original source and just change a few words, this is not paraphrasing, and may be considered plagiarism.
For some students, the temptation to use a source’s original wording is high. To avoid this, after reading and understanding the author’s ideas, write just the keywords on a separate piece of paper. See if you can change some of the keywords to other words, while keeping the original meaning. Then, think about whether you can reorganise the order of the keywords, to write sentences that keep the original meaning, but that are quite different to the original. Using your keywords, and without referring to the original source, write your new sentences. It takes a while at first, but the process becomes automatic with practice.
The importance of writing in your own words
Putting others’ work into your own words will not only ensure the material is effectively integrated into your writing, it also demonstrates to your reader (e.g. your lecturer) that you have understood, absorbed and interpreted the information. This is a key purpose of essay writing at university and will help you to get a better grade. In addition, the better you get at putting complex ideas into your own words, the more developed your writing style will become.
Acknowledge every source
Remember that the need to reference is not limited to academic sources like books and journal articles. You need to reference ALL words, ideas or information taken from ANY source.
These sources might include:
- books and journal articles
- newspapers and magazines
- pamphlets or brochures
- films, documentaries, television programs or advertisements
- computer programs
- diagrams, illustrations, charts or pictures
- letters or emails
- personal interviews
- lecturers or tutors. (This is not always necessary, but check with your lecturer or tutor about his or her preferences before you draw on his or her ideas.)
Note that if the source you are citing is retrievable (i.e. can be located by another person using the information you provide in the reference list), you must provide a reference for the source. However, if the source is only available to you (e.g. a personal interview or email, or a private Facebook post), you should cite all necessary details in the text, but should not provide a reference in the reference list. ONLY irretrievable sources are not included in the reference list, and even these are still cited in the text.
The only times you would not reference are:
- when referring to your own observations (e.g. a report on a field trip) or experiment results
- when writing about your own experiences (e.g. a reflective journal)
- when writing your own thoughts, comments or conclusions in an assignment
- when evaluating or offering your own analysis (e.g. parts of a critical review)
- when using ‘common knowledge’ (facts that can be found in numerous places and are likely to be known by a lot of people) or folklore
- when using generally accepted facts or information (this will vary in different disciplines of study. If in doubt, ask your tutor).
If you are concerned that you may not have referenced correctly, you should ask your tutor, lecturer or Academic Learning Advisor for their advice before submitting your assignment. Capstone Editing can also edit your work to correct your referencing and provide advice about how to reference correctly in the future.
Other guides you may be interested in
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Essay writing: Introductions
- Analysing questions
- Planning & drafting
- Revising & editing
- Essay writing videos
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“A relevant and coherent beginning is perhaps your best single guarantee that the essay as a whole will achieve its object.” Gordon Taylor, A Student's Writing Guide
Your introduction is the first thing your marker will read and should be approximately 10% of your word count. Within the first minute they should know if your essay is going to be a good one or not. An introduction has several components but the most important of these are the last two we give here. You need to show the reader what your position is and how you are going to argue the case to get there so that the essay becomes your answer to the question rather than just an answer.
What an introduction should include:
- A little basic background about the key subject area (just enough to put your essay into context, no more or you'll bore the reader).
- Explanation of how you are defining any key terms . Confusion on this could be your undoing.
- A road-map of how your essay will answer the question. What is your overall argument and how will you develop it?
- A confirmation of your position .
It is good to start with a statement that fixes your essay topic and focus in a wider context so that the reader is sure of where they are within the field. This is a very small part of the introduction though - do not fall into the trap of writing a whole paragraph that is nothing but background information.
Beware though, this only has to be a little bit wider, not completely universal. That is, do not start with something like "In the whole field of nursing...." or "Since man could write, he has always...". Instead, simply situate the area that you are writing about within a slightly bigger area. For example, you could start with a general statement about a topic, outlining some key issues but explain that your essay will focus on only one. Here is an example:
The ability to communicate effectively and compassionately is a key skill within nursing. Communication is about more than being able to speak confidently and clearly, it is about effective listening (Singh, 2019), the use of gesture, body language and tone (Adebe et al., 2016) and the ability to tailor language and messaging to particular situations (Smith & Jones, 2015). This essay will explore the importance of non-verbal communication ...
The example introduction at the bottom of this page also starts with similar, short background information.
Defining key terms
This does not mean quoting dictionary definitions - we all have access to dictionary.com with a click or two. There are many words we use in academic work that can have multiple or nuanced definitions. You have to write about how you are defining any potentially ambiguous terms in relation to your essay topic. This is really important for your reader, as it will inform them how you are using such words in the context of your essay and prevent confusion or misunderstanding.
Stating your case (road mapping)
The main thing an introduction will do is...introduce your essay! That means you need to tell the reader what your conclusion is and how you will get there.
There is no need to worry about *SPOILER ALERTS* - this is not a detective novel you can give away the ending! Sorry, but building up suspense is just going to irritate the reader rather than eventually satisfy. Simply outline how your main arguments (give them in order) lead to your conclusion. In American essay guides you will see something described as the ‘thesis statement’ - although we don't use this terminology in the UK, it is still necessary to state in your introduction what the over-arching argument of your essay will be. Think of it as the mega-argument , to distinguish it from the mini-arguments you make in each paragraph. Look at the example introduction at the bottom of this page which includes both of these elements.
Confirming your position
To some extent, this is covered in your roadmap (above), but it is so important, it deserves some additional attention here. Setting out your position is an essential component of all essays. Brick et al. (2016:143) even suggest
"The purpose of an essay is to present a clear position and defend it"
It is, however, very difficult to defend a position if you have not made it clear in the first place. This is where your introduction comes in. In stating your position, you are ultimately outlining the answer to the question. You can then make the rest of your essay about providing the evidence that supports your answer. As such, if you make your position clear, you will find all subsequent paragraphs in your essay easier to write and join together. As you have already told your reader where the essay is going, you can be explicit in how each paragraph contributes to your mega-argument.
In establishing your position and defending it, you are ultimately engaging in scholarly debate. This is because your positions are supported by academic evidence and analysis. It is in your analysis of the academic evidence that should lead your reader to understand your position. Once again - this is only possible if your introduction has explained your position in the first place.
An example introduction
(Essay title = Evaluate the role of stories as pedagogical tools in higher education)
Stories have been an essential communication technique for thousands of years and although teachers and parents still think they are important for educating younger children, they have been restricted to the role of entertainment for most of us since our teenage years. This essay will claim that stories make ideal pedagogical tools, whatever the age of the student, due to their unique position in cultural and cognitive development. To argue this, it will consider three main areas: firstly, the prevalence of stories across time and cultures and how the similarity of story structure suggests an inherent understanding of their form which could be of use to academics teaching multicultural cohorts when organising lecture material; secondly, the power of stories to enable listeners to personally relate to the content and how this increases the likelihood of changing thoughts, behaviours and decisions - a concept that has not gone unnoticed in some fields, both professional and academic; and finally, the way that different areas of the brain are activated when reading, listening to or watching a story unfold, which suggests that both understanding and ease of recall, two key components of learning, are both likely to be increased . Each of these alone could make a reasoned argument for including more stories within higher education teaching – taken together, this argument is even more compelling.
Key: Background information (scene setting) Stating the case (r oad map) Confirming a position (in two places). Note in this introduction there was no need to define key terms.
Brick, J., Herke, M., and Wong, D., (2016) Academic Culture, A students guide to studying at university, 3rd edition. Victoria, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Essay Writing: In-Text Citations
- Essay Writing Basics
- Purdue OWL Page on Writing Your Thesis This link opens in a new window
- Paragraphs and Transitions
- How to Tell if a Website is Legitimate This link opens in a new window
- Formatting Your References Page
- Cite a Website
- Common Grammatical and Mechanical Errors
- Additional Resources
- Proofread Before You Submit Your Paper
- Structuring the 5-Paragraph Essay
Using In-text Citations
Narrative vs Parenthetical In-text citations:
A narrative citation gives the author name as part of the sentence .
- Narrative citation: According to Edwards (2017) , a lthough Smith and Carlos's protest at the 1968 Olympics initially drew widespread criticism, it also led to fundamental reforms in the organizational structure of American amateur athletics.
A parenthetical citation gives the source information in parentheses - first or last - but not as part of the narrative flow.
- Parenthetical citation: Although Tommie Smith and John Carlos paid a heavy price in the immediate aftermath of the protests, they were later vindicated by society at large (Edwards, 2017) .
Full citation for this source:
Edwards, H. (2017). The Revolt of the Black Athlete: 50th Anniversary Edition. University of Illinois Press.
Sample In-text Citations
Note: This example is a direct quote. It is an exact quotation directly from the text of the article. All direct quotes should appear in quotation marks: "...."
Try keeping direct quotes to a minimum in your writing. You need to show your understanding of the source material by being able to paraphrase or summarize it.
List the author’s last name only (no initials) and the year the information was published, like this:
(Dodge, 2008 ). ( Author , Date).
IF you use a direct quote, add the page number to your citation, like this:
( Dodge , 2008 , p. 125 ).
( Author , Date , page number )
What is Plagiarism?
Avoid plagiarism cite your sources .
Using in-text citations:
- shows the reader that you have done your research
- shows that you know how to credit the sources of your information.
- points your reader to the full citation on your References page for more information.
Defining and Understanding Plagiarism:
important in the research and writing process.
From the Plagiarism.org Website:
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarize" means
- to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
- to use (another's production) without crediting the source
- to commit literary theft
- to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud . It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward .
ALL these are considered plagiarism:
- turning in someone else's work as your own
- copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
- failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
- giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
- changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
- copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)
Should I Cite This?
- Should I Cite This? Citation advice from the Purdue OWL
Links to cite it for you:
Mybib recommended .
MyBib citation generator provides both complete APA Citations, pre-formatted In-text Citations, and a Reference page.
- BibMe - APA Citation Generator and Plagiarism Checker from Chegg
- CiteFast - APA Citation Generator
- CiteThisForMe - APA Citation Generator from Harvard University
- KnightCite Citation Service - provided by the Hekman Library of Calvin College.
- Scribber - APA Citation Generator
Quick Sheet: APA 7 Citations
Quick help with apa 7 citations.
- Quick Sheet - Citing Journal Articles, Websites & Videos, and Creating In-Text Citations A quick guide to the most frequently-used types of APA 7 citations.
In-text Citation Tutorial
- Formatting In-text Citations, Full Citations, and Block Quotes In APA 7 Style This presentation will help you understand when, why, and how to use in-text citations in your APA style paper.
Download the In-text Citations presentation (above) for an in-depth look at how to correctly cite your sources in the text of your paper.
SIgnal Phrase Activity
Paraphrasing activity from the excelsior owl, in-text citation quiz.
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Frequently asked questions
What goes in an essay introduction.
Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
Frequently asked questions: Writing an essay
For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:
- Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
- Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
- Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)
Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.
Your essay’s conclusion should contain:
- A rephrased version of your overall thesis
- A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
- An indication of why your argument matters
The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.
The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.
An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.
In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.
Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.
The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.
To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :
- Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
- However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
- It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.
Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.
The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .
However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.
Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.
In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.
A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .
Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :
- Ask a question about your topic .
- Write your initial answer.
- Develop your answer by including reasons.
- Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.
The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.
Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:
- In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
- In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
- In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory
At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.
Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”
In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.
Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.
Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.
The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.
The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.
Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.
You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.
If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.
When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.
You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.
Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.
Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:
- The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
- The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.
It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.
Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.
You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.
Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.
Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .
The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.
Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.
If you’re not given a specific prompt for your descriptive essay , think about places and objects you know well, that you can think of interesting ways to describe, or that have strong personal significance for you.
The best kind of object for a descriptive essay is one specific enough that you can describe its particular features in detail—don’t choose something too vague or general.
If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?
The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.
Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.
Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.
When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.
The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.
In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.
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.
The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .
An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.
An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.
An expository essay is a common assignment in high-school and university composition classes. It might be assigned as coursework, in class, or as part of an exam.
Sometimes you might not be told explicitly to write an expository essay. Look out for prompts containing keywords like “explain” and “define.” An expository essay is usually the right response to these prompts.
An expository essay is a broad form that varies in length according to the scope of the assignment.
Expository essays are often assigned as a writing exercise or as part of an exam, in which case a five-paragraph essay of around 800 words may be appropriate.
You’ll usually be given guidelines regarding length; if you’re not sure, ask.
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How to write an essay: Introduction
- What's in this guide
- Essay structure
- Additional resources
An in troduction generally does three things. The first part is usually a general comment that shows the reader why the topic is important, gets their interest, and leads them into the topic. It isn’t actually part of your argument. The next part of the introduction is the thesis statement . This is your response to the question; your final answer. It is probably the most important part of the introduction. Finally, the introduction tells the reader what they can expect in the essay body. This is where you briefly outline your arguments .
Here is an example of the introduction to the question - Discuss how media can influence children. Use specific examples to support your view.
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