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How to Properly Document an Article or Paper

Citations are one of the least understood and most frustrating parts of documenting a publication. This guide provides tips and tools in order to ease and improve your citation efforts.

References provide a point of view in which to read an article, provide a place to look for more information, and provide proof that ideas and concepts presented are generally excepted within an industry. Below are the basic do-es and don’t-es of using references.


There are four generally recognized references styles in use today: MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian. Each is used within specific industries or companies and has specific strength and weaknesses and are supported by different tools in order to make managing, creating, and sorting references and papers easier.

  • MLA (Modern Language Association)

    This style of references is traditionally used by schools, academic departments, and instructors and has been in use for nearly half a century. MLA includes guidelines on punctuation, quotation, and documentation of sources.

  • APA (American Psychological Association)

    APA style is predominantly used within the social sciences. APA format includes guidelines on general formating, in-text citation, endnotes/footnotes, and reference page styling.

  • Chicago

    The Chicago style format is based of the book Chicago Manual of Style (1). This style provides an Author-Date style of ordering that is usually easier to follow within the natural and social sciences.

  • Turabian

    The Turabian style is based of the format suggested by Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (2) which in itself was based closely on the Chicago style and serves many of the same functions.

Know Your Audience

Playing a classical performance at a battle of the bands makes little sense. In the same way using references when not needed or failing to use them in the correct style when they are needed can strongly detract from an articles performance. The modern equivalent of the citation is the webpage link. The webpage link has a strongly suggested style, a standardized easily computer read format, and provides further information that others can use. In fact many of the newer citation formats have citation suggestions specifically for websites.

Writing an article on pool table design which will be used solely on a website makes webpage links a good idea. Though providing a collected link section at the end of the article is always a strong suggestion. While this same format of linking is a bad idea when writing an article for a science teacher because the ease of use of websites becomes a difficult chore to confirm references when you have to manually type in website links to access information.

Bending to the Yoke

The bow yoke according to wikipedia is..

“… a shaped wooden crosspiece bound to the necks of a pair of oxen, or occasionally horses. It is held on the animals’ necks by an oxbow, usually U-shaped, that also transmits force from the animals’ shoulders, hence the name bow yoke.”

The phrase “bending to ones yoke” generally means to burden ones self with a constraint that generally leads to positive group effort. It can also mean to be put under the authority of another person or organization. Both definitions apply when it comes time to apply a paper to an organization. Before spending hours organizing, sorting, and formating your citations or references be sure that the citation or reference format you have chosen will be accepted where you wish to publish your paper. Some groups such as the APA only accept papers in a specific format and following specific guidelines for content and practices.

The reason for this is both to maintain consistency of look as well as content but also to ease the use of automated tools that can cross link reference and provide evidence of worth of papers. A paper that is heavily referenced is more likely to be of use to an author or researcher then a paper that is rarely referenced.

Tools and Systems

Having references for an article or research paper is nice but creating these references can be a tiring practice, especially considering some of these references can be incorrectly formated if even a single comma is out of place! This being the case there are manuals and programs designed to make referencing papers and articles easier then what was available in the past.

  • Son of Citation Machine

    A web based citation generating website which works in each of the four major styles and has clear instructions detailing how to generate a reference citation. Following the on screen instructions step by step can generate correctly typed (though not always correctly formated for copy and past) text that can then be easily incorporated into any research paper or article. Each citation also includes how the citation should appear with proper formating within your paper making correcting the copy and pasted portion a simple process.

  • MLA Formatting and Style Guide

    Each of these formats include more then simply a standardized method of presenting citations but also ways to organize, format, and even which fonts to use. While something can be said for originality, standardization also provides strong benefits. Each of these formats provides a time tested and proven method of presenting a paper that will be, in most cases, easily printed and read. This site gives a great break down on MLA both citation and formating.

  • APA Formatting and Style Guide

    APA formating guide presented by the same group that produced the above MLA formating and style guide.

  • Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide

    This page describes mostly the citation format of Chicago style.

  • Turabian Citation Style

    List of examples of the more commonly used Turabian citation style. This guide does not provide a step by step guide but is reasonably clear in how to create each citation.


  1. University of Chicago Press Staff, (2003). The Chicago manual of style. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.
  2. Turabian, K., Booth, W., Colomb, G., & Williams, J. A Manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations, 7th Ed: Chicago style for students and researchers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  3. Yoke. (2008). In Wikipedia [Web]. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. Retrieved January 2nd, 2008, from
  4. Landmarks, Son of citation machine. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from Sone of Citation Machine Web site:
  5. Kunka, J. (2008, January 22nd). MLA formatting and style guide. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from MLA formatting and style guide Web site:
  6. Neyhart, D. (2008, January 22nd). APA formatting and style guide. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from APA formatting and style guide Web site:
  7. Roecker, F. (2006, March 3rd). Chicago manual of style citation guide. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide Web site:
  8. (2005, May 8th). Turabian citation style. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from Turabian citation style Web site:

Editor’s Note:

This article was published with a Reference section as an example. Due to the style guidelines, articles published through Triond will not be published with a “bibliography” or “references” section left in tact. If you wish to refer to your sources, please do so within the article itself.

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3 Responses to “How to Properly Document an Article or Paper”
  • Jack Denel Goldstein
    January 26th, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    unfortunately my links where stripped out upon submission so you will have to manually copy and paste the links from the reference sections. sorry for the difficulties but after 5 attempted fixes this site still has not corrected it. at least this format is readable which is an improvement over some of there attempted fixes.

  • Jack Denel Goldstein
    January 26th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    unfortunately my links where stripped out upon submission so you will have to manually copy and paste the links from the reference sections. sorry for the difficulties but after 5 attempted fixes this site still has not corrected it. at least this format is readable which is an improvement over some of there attempted fixes.

  • Self Storage Manchester
    October 9th, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Nice post, keep up the good work:)

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