Veronica With Four Eyes

How I Create Citations For Research Papers

Over the years, I have had several awesome teachers and professors who have helped me learn how to write essays and research papers for my classes quickly and efficiently. Because of them, I have earned consistently high scores on all of my writing assignments and papers in all of my classes, including my college classes, and frequently get asked for writing advice from my friends and other students in my classes. As part of my Writing Success series, here is how I create citations for research papers and save time with writing parenthetical citations.

Before writing, outline research papers in OneNote

One of my favorite tips for writing research papers and essays is to take notes and create an outline- my favorite tool for this is OneNote, a free app that is part of Microsoft Office, though users can take notes in the format of their choice. I have an entire post about how I outline research papers in OneNote linked below, but one of the things I find to be the most helpful is finding citations for sources when starting the notetaking process, so I don’t have to dig through my web history later to try and remember what source I used or when it was published. It makes it much easier to create a works cited page later on!

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Add parenthesis as you write, but not necessarily the citations

Since my outline has tags for each of the lines so I know which line belongs to each source, it is easy for me to remember which information came from each source. However, it isn’t necessary or efficient for me to write out the entire citation when I am writing my paper, so instead, I will add parenthesis at the end of the line or whenever I am done mentioning the source and then type a word/phrase such as “Resource_1” so that I can keep track of which source goes with each line. Of course, users can choose to type whatever they want since the word/phrase will be replaced later (I’ve also used random animal names and keyboard combinations as placeholders), but it’s important to ensure that word doesn’t show up anywhere else in the paper!

How I create citations

Copying them from Google Scholar or my college library

Did you know that Google Scholar and many online library portals have pre-written citations that students can copy/paste into their documents? By clicking the “Cite” button below the article summary, users can view a list of citations in different formats including MLA and APA that they can then copy and paste.

Using a tool such as Citation Machine

Another tool I use for creating citations is the free Citation Machine website, which creates citations for a variety of different types of content, as well as different formats. This is especially helpful for books I downloaded from Bookshare or other sources, and it is fairly easy to import information as needed. After I finish a citation, I will typically copy it and then paste it into my document, as I don’t need to export all of my citations into a different document.

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How I create parenthetical citations

Parenthetical citations are fairly easy to create, and Citation Machine will create them automatically when users click on the “in-text citation” option after creating a parenthetical citation. However, creating parenthetical citations manually is not overly difficult- check out the guide from Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab linked below for more information.

Do you cite page numbers?

Sometimes, my assistive technology does not pick up on page numbers or will display page numbers incorrectly so I am not quite sure which information appears on each page. Because of this, I either get permission from my professors in advance to cite a page range instead of specific pages in my research papers or get assistance from another classmate with labeling citations with page numbers. In the past, all but one of my teachers and professors have been fine with me citing the page range I used, which means my parenthetical citation will be written as (Lewis 12-34).

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Using the find and replace tool to insert parenthetical citations

After I finish writing my paper and have all of my parenthetical citation placeholders set, now it’s time to bring my paper to life and make it look a bit more professional. I use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+H in Microsoft Word (Ctrl+F in Google Docs) to open the find and replace tool, and type the placeholder I had previously used for a source, including the parenthesis, and then copy and paste the parenthetical citation with parenthesis for it to be replaced. After pressing the Enter key, my placeholder text is automatically replaced with the correct citation, and I repeat the process for each of my sources. Altogether, this only takes about five minutes.

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Sort citations alphabetically at the end

Since I copy and paste my citations as I go through my sources, they frequently aren’t in alphabetical order. Use the sort tool on the home ribbon in Microsoft Word or install the sorted paragraphs add-on in Google docs and select all of the sources on the works cited page, and then select the option to sort in ascending order (or A to Z). In addition, make sure the citations are the same font and font size as the rest of the document- I recommend selecting all of the sources on the page and choosing the same font/font size that is used throughout the document (e.g Times New Roman, size 12).

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Final thoughts

I am grateful to have had so many amazing teachers and professors over the years who helped me to further develop my writing skills and become a better writer. I hope this post on how I create citations for research papers is helpful for others as well!

How I Create Citations For Research Papers. How I create citations for research papers using time-saving keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Word and Google Docs, part of my Writing Success series