Bibliography 101: Credibility (Believe Me, It’s Important!)

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Last time on Bibliography 101, we discussed how to decide whether a source is credible (if you haven’t seen it yet, you can read it here!). When you give a presentation, if you are quoting facts or figures, you will often be asked to cite the sources for those facts or figures. This usually means that if you are using slides, you should show a list of these sources  at the end of the slide presentation. When you’re in elementary school, you might not be asked to do this in a certain way, or it might not be required at all. But as you progress through middle and high school, and especially through your adult life, you will be expected to show these sources a little more professionally.

According to a resource from Grand Valley State University, there are 3 main ways to use sources in-text (or speech!): summarizing, paraphrasing, and direct quotes. When you summarize something, you give a brief description of the general purpose of an entire work, so that you can better connect it to support what you are saying. On the other hand, paraphrasing when you put specific information from a source into your own words without changing its original meaning. Finally direct quotes use quotation marks to show that the audience knows that it came from an external source.

While you may or may not use slides as a visual aid, certain hints in the way you speak can indicate which type of citation you are using. Make sure that when paraphrasing or summarizing a text, you put the message into your own words while also making sure to attribute the sources. When giving a direct quote, do not change any words in the quote without using brackets like these → []. (If you don’t use a slideshow and your audience cannot see that you have manipulated a quote, please try your best to change as little about it as possible, or just paraphrase it instead.)

If you are indeed using a slideshow and must show all your sources in a bibliography at the end of your presentation, there are a few ways to do this as well. Some of the most common types are APA, MLA, and Chicago. Today I’ll focus on MLA format, but you can read more about the other types at this overview from the University of Pittsburgh

Here is a list of all the ways to cite different types of sources in basic MLA format:

  • A printed book: Author’s last name, first name. Title in italics. Publisher, year of publication.
  • An eBook: Author’s last name, first name. Title in italics. Publisher, year of publication. Website name and URL.  Date accessed.
  • An interview: Interviewee’s last name, first name. Interview.  By Interviewer’s name. Date of the interview.
  • An encyclopedia: Entry subject. Title in italics, Author/Editor, edition number, Publisher, year of publication, page number.
  • A website: Author’s last name, first name (if applicable). “Article name”. Website name. Date accessed. Website URL.

Though there is much more to citing sources, the information we’ve gone over so far is often all you would need in order to craft a basic speech. However, if you would like to learn more about bibliographies and citing your sources, below are some useful resources, including the ones I referenced in this article.

Texts referenced in this article: 

Other helpful resources:

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