How to Show References When Writing a Term Paper


References add credibility to research paper. According to the website A Research Guide website, "the MLA Handbook provides a general guideline on writing a research paper and documenting sources. In case of conflict, you should always follow guidelines set down by your teacher." Some professors require students to use APA Style or The Chicago Manual of Style. Always refer to your professor's guidelines for each term paper you write. You can use books, journals, magazines, newspapers and websites as references. Check that your resources are factually correct and cited from reliable sources.

Things You'll Need

  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Journals
  • Newspapers
  • Computer
  • Internet access
  • Paper
  • Write the title, author, publisher and copyright date for books used as references. List the name of the article, author, publication title, publisher and copyright date for journal articles and magazines. All references must contain complete information. Readers use the reference section to find further information and gain more knowledge about a subject.

  • Stick with an appropriate style for your research paper. Do not use MLA Style for one source and APA style for another one. This will cause confusion for the reader, and you will probably lose points from your professor.

  • Reference sources in the body of your research paper, and use citations for any phrase that you take from another publication. Use the full name of titles for books, magazines, newspapers and journals. Capitalize all words in citations except articles, prepositions and conjunctions. A Research Guide states that "all title citations, except articles ("a", "an", "the"), prepositions (such as "in", "on", "under", "over"), and conjunctions (such as "and", "because", "but", "however"), should be capitalized, unless they occur at the beginning of the title or subtitle."

  • Use footnotes to give readers information they need to find the correct note for each citation. List footnotes at the bottom of the page.

  • Leave one-inch margins on each side of the page when you write references unless instructed otherwise by the professor because this makes it clear and legible.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a variety of reference material such as books, journals and online sources.
  • Do not use online sources that are user-generated or sell products.


  • Photo Credit Buchstapel image by Otmar Smit from
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