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Help!: How to Read a Citation

Tips for doing library research, identifying types of resources, citing those resources, and links to other library catalogs.

How to Read a Citation

In many indexes and databases you are likely to encounter a variety of citations--not only ones for journal articles, but citations for dissertations, reports, web sites, books and book chapters.  In some databases, you may have access to whole articles (full-text), while some will only give you citations.  When you do not have full-text, you will need to know the difference between these various citations to successfully track down the material you want.

In general, all citations will list the author, the title, and the year the work was published.  You can distinguish what type of publication is cited by looking at the other information included.  For example, a citation for a journal article will include a volume number and sometimes an issue number after the title of the journal, and may include a month or a season along with the year.  An article (chapter) from a book will include a place of publication, a publisher, and an editor (Ed). 

A citation for an article from a journal usually includes…                     

Knapp, P.B.  (1968).  The Reading of College Students.   Library Quarterly, 38  (4), 301-308.

  Author          Date             Article Title                              Journal Title       Volume  Issue  Pages 

A citation for a book usually includes...

Gilbar, S.  (1995).  Reading in BedBoston D. R. Godine.

  Author/editor Date   Book Title  Place of Publication Publisher

A citation for an article (chapter) from a book usually includes…         

Brodkey, H.  (1995).  Reading, the Most Dangerous Game.  In Steven Gilbar (Ed.), Reading in Bed (pp. 101-108). BostonD. R. Godine.

      Author            Date                   Chapter Title                        Book Editor              Book Title              Pages   Place of Publication  Publisher

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