Doing it in style: sources and references

I found this very useful that I thought I’d share.  Especially for those of you who are in college and university and who constantly get hammered about referencing format.  That was me, a long time ago, and I completely get how discombobulating it all is.

It’s been a while.  I’ve been busy – writing.  Well, I don’t suppose that’s really a surprise.  I have been doing some research-related ghost writing and having the odd personal rant blogging.  The work writing’s semi-academic and when it comes to referencing, I was a little rusty.  In my own defence, one tends to get into the “groove” of one particular referencing format which is usually a function of the institution or discipline within which one works.

Over the years I’ve worked mainly with three formats:  MLA, MPA and Harvard.  This last seems, for some reason, to be the one that “comes” most easily.  I think I know why, but that’s another story.

So, when I was awarded these projects, I decided that I needed to brush up on my techniques and in searching for the updated information, came upon a very useful site and service.  Before I get into the details:

A word to the wise

Using an online tool is not a perfect solution:  it’s always our responsibility to check our references, and their format to make sure they’re correct.

That said, I found this very useful that I thought I’d share it.  Especially for those of you who are in college and university and who constantly get hammered about referencing format.  That was me, a long time ago, and I completely get how discombobulating it all is.

So here you are:

Cite this for me

The Cite this for me website allows users three options:

  1. Free use – no registration
  2. Free – with registration and a bibliography of a maximum of fifteen and limited functionalities
  3. Paid-for and premium usage with access to a range of options.

I have registered and use the site for free.

Here is a series of screen shots of how the site works:

Opening screen

Choose your referencing style or format

A dropdown menu allows one to choose the style you need.

If you choose the wrong one, or need to change formats halfway through, don’t stress, you simply choose the correct one.  Just make sure that you do it before copying and pasting the text into your assignment (see more below).

Select the type of source

Unlike when I was at university, and when there were two primary source types, the advent of the Internet and electronic media has changed all of that.  Now it’s not just books and journals, it’s online journals, websites, blogs and newspapers, and…

As media evolves, this will also change so, as I’ve already said, refreshing one’s memory and having a reference for references is a useful resource.

Find your chosen reference or source

This is the first and really nifty part of this tool.  For my example. and because it’s a little unashamed self-promotion, I’ve selected a post from my personal blog and used the tool to generate a reference:


Type in the title of the article and, the author, if you know the name.  Then select the correct option that pops up

I was really bucked that my blog post was at the top of the list!

If necessary, manually add the missing information.

Reference is generated

The system then generates your reference in the correct format.  Then you can choose to copy it in one of two formats for either your bibliography or an in-text citation.

Copy and paste or email your bibliography to yourself.

Other options

If you’re not comfortable with copying and pasting (I recommend that you do – it’s an important skill), you can email the bibliography to yourself:

Do remember

  • If you’re not using the premium option, there are certain functionalities not available to you:

  • Plagiarism is a crime and it could cost you your university or college degree. Perhaps even your career.  Always check and make sure you acknowledge your sources.

It’s the right thing to do.  Especially in the right format for your professor!

That’s all for now!

Until next time, be well and be safe
Fiona

PS:  If you need writing tutoring or English writing services, contact me via the form below.

Contact Fiona 

Thinking about writing – I

One doesn’t just sit down and write.  One has to think about what one is going to write, organise those ideas and then get them down on paper or into an electronic document. What’s involved in the writing process?

Last week, I suggested that you live dangerously and write on the edge.  I linked you to an online app that gives writers a blank page and which also stops writers when they’ve reached the alotted number of words.  This time it was 250 words and the only requirement for each piece of writing was that it had to have a beginning (introduction), middle and ending (conclusion).

Let’s briefly look at the prompts I shared on the English with Fiona Facebook page:

Lockdown
This year has seen much of the world in lockdown.  It seemed logical that this would be our first prompt.  There are no rules about the content.  You don’t even have to write about lockdown associated with the novel corona virus or covid-19.

Calendar
What is a calendar, and what does it mean to you?  Time dragging or time flying by? Or does the word conjure up memories of times gone by? There are no rules about the content.  This is your writing based on the prompt.

Purse
Purse is a word with many meanings.  Perhaps you want to write about the first thing that jumps into your head.  You could even write a short story that incorporates the word.  It’s entirely up to you.  Remember, there are no rules about the content.  This is your writing based on the prompt.

Last year…
This phrase opens the door to a lot of things: your own memories, fantasy and fiction. You might even wish to indulge in a piece of reflective writing.  Remember, there are no rules about the content.  This is your writing based on the prompt.

Living
What does the word “living” make you think about? There are no rules about the content.  This is your writing based on the prompt.

This activity was a free write, and the theme running through all my tips was that there were no rules about content.

Not sharing in public

Nobody was brave enough to share their writing in public.  I understand that.  I still remember my first blog post.  Hitting the “publish” button was the scariest thing I’d ever done.  I also remember the first time my writing went into print.  In a national weekly newspaper.  That was thrilling and also terrifying;  especially as it was an opinion piece that I had published in my newsletter – only intended for clients.

Even though writing has been integral to virtually every job I’ve done since I left university, and I love doing it, “putting it out there” is still something about which I think twice.

Not for my eyes only

So, every time I write something that’s not for my eyes only, and before I share it, these are the questions that always run through my head:

    • How many mistakes have I missed?
    • Will someone actually read this?
    • Is it perfect?
    • Can I make it better?

In case you’re wondering, I do miss mistakes.  If you’re reading this, that answers at least one of the questions, right?

Perfectly imperfect

Often the piece is not perfect and could be better.  I have learned that if I spend too long making something perfect, it will never see the light of day.  I have also learned from the years of imperfection.  These lessons have helped me to improve my writing and aspects of my writing which we can talk about another time.

You’re not alone:  writing is a process

Why have I shared my experience and what I go through every time I write?

Because one doesn’t just sit down and write.  One has to think about what one is going to write, organise those ideas and then get them down on paper or into an electronic document.

That’s where I start – pencil and paper.  Then it’s on to the computer and then it’s organising the ideas and writing and revising.

I’ve summarised the recursive writing process for you in this very short video.

Doing it again, Sam?

Thank you to the folk who got in touch, and who me to run this excercise again.  I will, happily.  Please use the contact form below, or send me a direct message via the English with Fiona Facebook page.

What’s next?

Next time, I’ll start looking at the different stages in the writing process in more detail.  If there’s something specific you’d like me to address, please contact me using the form below.

Until next time, be well and be safe
Fiona

PS:  If you need English writing or wish to improve your English, find out more about English with Fiona, here.

Contact Fiona