Friday, January 11, 2013

Using Informal Citations

Here is an example of an informal citation in a blogpost:
This example was found on Library Learning Commons:
The signal phrase is "A recent article. . . .explores. . . "  Notice that the person who prepared this included as much information as possible about the source right in the sentence.  Notice also, that the person who wrote this used two sentence fragments.  Please avoid doing that.  

    When you use someone else's words or ideas, you always need to show exactly which words or
ideas in your paper are yours and which are not. If you're using someone else's words, you need to
put them inside quotation marks and (except in specific, special circumstances), you may not change  them. If your source says "America," for example, you can't silently change it to "the United States."  If  you're using someone else's ideas, you need to paraphrase them in your own words and put them in  your own order, entirely.
     After quoting your source's words or paraphrasing its ideas, you need to connect your source's point  to the rest of your paper. If you use a direct quotation, you always have to connect it to a signal  phrase. A signal phrase usually identifies the original writer or speaker, and sometimes the original  source. In fact, however, almost any words of your own can introduce a quotation-- you'll just have to  identify the source in other ways if you don't do so in the signal phrase.
According to George Will... 
Senator Hatch disagrees, saying... 
In The Muppet Christmas Carol, Scrooge says.... 
Other sources, however, argue that..... 
Another researcher writing in the New England Journal of Medicine adds, 
People who like frogs' legs describe them as....

A signal phrase can go in front of a quotation, after it, or even in the middle.

“Four score and seven years ago,” Abraham Lincoln said, “our fathers brought forth on this 
continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty.”
“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, 
conceived in liberty,” said Abraham Lincoln.

     Once you've worked the quotation and signal phrase into your paper, you need to show where those  words or ideas came from. One way to do this is to work all the relevant information into your signal phrase or a nearby sentence, in what is called informal citation:
In his column "Will Fight For Oil" in the February 24, 2006 issue of The New York Times, Ted 
Koppel observes that....

     Some of these styles, like the APA and MLA styles, ask you to put parentheses after your quotations containing cues to their sources; others, like the Chicago and AMA styles, use numbers instead. Every style is different. What most styles have in common, however, is a two-part way of helping a reader find the writer's sources: notes or parentheses, called in-text citations, point the reader towards the right entry on a reference list (sometimes called a "bibliography" or "works cited" section) that lists all the information the writer has about each source.

This is from the Pocatello I.S.U. Writing Center.             
According to Library Learning Commons, "When using an informal citation, it is very important to include as much information about the source as possible, and a link to the source. Always credit the author or creator of the work when that information is available and/or the organization or publication providing the information."

You are to use informal citation for each fact you find for sources other than your novel.  Also include the URL or information about the book or other text where the information was found.


Utah State Core 7th Grade Language Arts, Standard 3, Objective 2d.  Use informal contextual citation. (Example: “Gary Paulsen says he gets his ideas

According to the Mantor Library Information Literacy Program,
"Informal citation gives credit to the author or creator by reference. With informal citation, you
identify the source of the information, but do not provide a full citation. It should be used for
visual presentations (Power Point or poster presentations) or oral reports as a way to give credit
to the sources of the information you use without being too cumbersome or disrupting the flow of
your presentation. An example of citing informally is use of a signal phrase that precedes factual
information, such as: “According to the U.S. State Department,...” Informal citation can also be a
reference to the author or creator and a particular date or event to more clearly pinpoint the
source of the information, such as: “At the 2000 Symposium for Plant Biotechnology, Swiss
biologist Florianne Koechlin stated…”"     (

  • Begin with signal phrases.
  • With informal citation, you cite the source within the sentence that presents the information from that source. 
  • Add quotation marks to quoted material.
  • Paraphrase requires citation too.
  • If it is helpful, introduce the source’s occupation or background.