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ENG 111 - Writing and Inquiry: Documentation Style - The Basics

This course is designed to develop the ability to produce clear writing in a variety of genres and formats using a recursive process. Emphasis includes inquiry, analysis, effective use of rhetorical strategies, thesis development, audience awareness, and

Main Parts of Documentation Styles

Why use documentation style?

  • Allows reader to find your sources and follow your research
  • Shows your research and knowledge of subject
  • Gives writer and reader a standard style so information can be communicated and found easily

There are 3 main components of APA style

  • References (end of paper)
  • In-text Citations (within paper)
  • APA formatting (title page, headings, font, etc.)

In-text citations (Examples are in APA format)

There are two ways to cite your information in your paper.

If you include all the information about your source in the parenthesis at the end of the sentence, it is called a parenthetical in-text citation. Add page numbers for direct quotes.

  • In conclusion, the research shows that dogs have innate predatory behavior traits which are enhanced by the dogs' desires to protect their human owners (Tucker & Maddey, 2020).    
  • The research found that "dogs are more willing to attack or defend territory that is considered to be their own" (Tucker & Maddey, 2020, p. 81). 

If you include the author's name in the sentence, it is called a narrative in-text citation. The date goes in the parenthesis. 

  • Tucker and Maddey (2020) found that predatory behavior in dogs is due to many different factors.   

Peas and Carrots - APA Style

picture of peas and carrots

Whenever you have a reference at the end of your paper, you need at least one intext citation to go with it. Every intext citation should point to a reference at the end of your paper.

References and Intext Citations Go Together Like Peas and Carrots.

Your intext citation contains the first word(s) of your reference and the date so the reader can find it easily. For example:

You write this in your paper: For optimal decomposition, experts believe you should aim for a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 30:1 (Johnson, 2001).

This is in your Reference List:

Johnson, L. (2001, February). Compost Happens: The Secret to Making Quick Gardener's Gold Instead of a Slow, Stinking Mess Requires, Like Everything Else, Balance. Canadian Gardening, 12(1), 28-33.


Common Knowledge: What is it?

Common knowledge is information that your average reader doesn't have to look up and you DON'T have to cite or reference.

For example:

  • The United States has 50 states.
  • Raleigh is the capitol of North Carolina.
  • Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are in a biology class and writing for your instructor or students with more knowledge of biology than the average reader then these facts probably don't need to be cited

  • In humans, there are 80 bones that comprise the axial skeleton.

If your audience are all of a similar cultural or national group, you don't need to cite information common to shared history.

  • George Washington was the first president of the United States and is widely considered to be a Founding Father of the nation.

You always need to cite and reference:

  • Direct quotes
  • Statistics
  • References to studies done by others (even if you read about it in a different source)
  • Facts such as specific dates, numbers, or other information that your audience wouldn't know unless they have done research.

For example:

  • The projected growth for solar photovoltaic installers is 63% which is much higher than average (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). 
  • The Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 dumped 11 million gallons of oil in Alaska's Prince William Sound (Leahy, 2019). 
  • Although pine cones seem very ordinary, the ancient Greeks associated them with Venus, the goddess of love, according to Michigan State University (2017). 

When in doubt, cite your sources!