American University of Paris Library | Citation/Annotation Help

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Citation/Annotation Help

Bibliographic Citations

When you write a research paper, you create a bibliography of the sources you used to give the original authors credit. A bibliography consists of citations. The purpose of the following information is to help you identify parts of a citation while you are doing research. Understanding the structure of citations is also important for making the most of searching in the online catalog or indexes.

What Is a Citation?

A citation is composed of information that identifies a particular source used in research (such as a book, magazine article, film, lecture, etc.).The purpose of a citation is to provide enough information so that someone reading your research will be able to find the sources you quote, summarize, or paraphrase (this is also known as a source).Another reason for citing a source is to distinguish between your own words and ideas, and those of others. There are several different ways of citing sources; at AUP, we use the Modern Language Association (MLA) style.

The following pages will help you create and understand citations:

What Goes in a Citation?

Generally speaking, a citation contains an author designation, a title, and the date of publication. Citations may also include editors, volume numbers, page numbers, and URLs (website addresses). Books, articles, and other types of sources all require different kinds of information. Look at the example of a book citation below:

Marcuse, Herbert. An Essay on Liberation. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. Print.

Here we have the author's name (last, first) followed by the title of the book in italics, then the place of publication, the publisher, and the year of publication. The title is italicized because this is how to designate a work published separately and not part of something else. This will be an important distinction in what follows. Compare the example above to the following citation for a journal article:

Jay, Martin. "Force Fields: the Ungrateful Dead." Salmagundi 123 (1999): 22-31. Print.

We still have author, title, and date of publication information, but also more. Start with the title: the first title is in quotation marks and is, in fact, the title of the article. Remember what was said above about book titles being italicized because they are published separately. The journal title (Salmagundi) is the separate work, like a book, and so it is in italics. The article ("Force Fields") is part of the journal and so is designated by quotation marks. This is a very important distinction to understand. Also, the number 123 after the journal title is the volume number of this particular issue of the journal, which means that there are at least 123 separate volumes or issues of this journal, and this article is only in the one. Also required are the page numbers to help us find the particular article within the particular volume.

Other periodicals will have additional information depending on what kind of publication they are. Examples include having an issue number as well as a volume number and having more precise date information (a month, a season, a day, etc.).

Citing information found on the Internet is another case which requires special style rules. See examples at some of the pages above.

Evaluating and Annotating

What is an annotation? It is a one-paragraph assessment of a work that provides both a brief summary and a critical response.

Kiarostami, Abbas. Taste of Cherry. Abbas Kiarostami Productions. Iran, 1997.

A middle-aged man who's contemplating suicide drives around the hilly, dusty outskirts of Tehran trying to find someone who will bury him if he succeeds and retrieve him if he fails. This minimalist yet powerful and life-enhancing 1997 feature by Abbas Kiarostami (Where Is the Friend's House?, Life and Nothing More, Through the Olive Trees) never explains why the man wants to end his life, yet every moment in his daylong odyssey carries a great deal of poignancy and philosophical weight. Kiarostami, one of the great filmmakers of our time, is a master at filming landscapes and constructing parablelike narratives whose missing pieces solicit the viewer's active imagination. Taste of Cherry actually says a great deal about what it's like to be alive in the 1990s, and despite its somber theme, this masterpiece has a startling epilogue that radiates with wonder and euphoria.

Rosenbaum, Jonathon. Rev. of Taste of Cherry. Dir. Abbas Kiarostami.Chicago Reader.26 April 2001.

Notice first of all how Rosenbaum summarizes the film. In the first and second sentences the basic plot and idea of the film is sketched out.We don't need to know everything that happens to the man who wants to kill himself, just the essential information (and the information is highly interesting).

Second, Rosenbaum provides a critical assessment of first the film and then the filmmaker, and even suggests the ways in which the film has something to say about our own lives.About the film he uses the descriptive and judgmental terms "minimalist", "powerful", "life-enhancing", "poignancy", and "philosophical weight", "wonder", and "euphoria". He calls Kiarostami "one of the great filmmakers of our time" and "a master". The last sentence tells us that viewing this film will help us understand "what it's like to be alive in the 1990s".

In just 140 words, Rosenbaum manages to convey not only what the film is about but also what he thinks of it, both in concrete terms. These two things together allow us, who perhaps have not seen this film, to get a good sense of both the film and of Rosenbaum's thinking. When we see it for ourselves we can then compare what we think to what Rosenbaum has written.

This is what all researchers do when they examine books, articles, webpages, and other sources.