Trouble with Citation? There’s a Machine for that.

Clients at the WC often come in with concerns about citation. I’ve had people, from freshmen to graduate students, come to me asking how to do MLA/APA/Chicago style citation, and with all the scary stuff (read: implicit threats) written about academic honesty and plagiarism, it’s understandable why. Citation is a necessary part of academic writing, but it’s a new thing to a lot of college students, and there’s anxiety about getting it right.

So when people ask me how to cite certain sources, I don’t give them a style guide, or tell them the order of things on a bibliographic entry. I show them Citation Machine. Citation Machine is a tool to help writers cite their sources in the proper format, simply by formatting the raw citation data. It won’t take any of the legwork out of actually finding the sources or their necessary information, but it does cut down on the headache of knowing where in a citation goes a period, italics, quotes, initials, etc.

Of course, Citation Machine isn’t a perfect algorithm, and I always suggest that anyone who uses Citation Machine proofread their citation (as with any other writing) and check it against the trusty Purdue OWL website. No citation tool takes the place of simple human attention, but it helps.

Some may object to tool-assisted citation, but I ask those objectors to consider the last time a math course invoked an abacus. Just saying.

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