Response to Literature: Citation

Contributor: Delaine Thomas. Lesson ID: 12329

What do you call taking something that doesn't belong to you? It's stealing! What do you call taking credit for something you didn't write? Learn the honest way to give writing credit where it is due!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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What does this quote mean to you, “When in doubt tell the truth”?

So, what do you think about the above quotation?

What would you do if your friend made a really cool t-shirt and gave it to you, and one day someone asks you, "Is that shirt hand-made?"

In this case, you can answer with a straightforward, honest, "Yes," because the shirt is hand-made. The person did not ask who made it, only if it was made by hand. Now, if you were asked, "Did you make that shirt by hand?" how would you respond? The shirt was made by hand, but not by you. Do you take the extra time to explain that, "No, my friend made it for me," or do you make it easy and say just say, "Yes"?

Did you know that one little "Yes" in this case is two bad deeds in one? Not only are you telling a lie, but you are stealing the credit for making the shirt. Would you appreciate it if someone took credit for work that you did? Wouldn't you feel as though something were being taken from you?

Take a moment to reflect on the quotation above. Now, you may be wondering how this all relates to the literary response essay we have been creating during the last several Related Lessons in this Response to Literature series. By the way, if you have not completed, or would like to review, the previous Related Lessons, find them in the right-hand sidebar.

It all comes down to the final step: make sure that you have properly cited all of the information you collected from the book.

When you write your essay, you want to include evidence from the text to support your claims and opinions. When you do this, either as a direct quotation or a paraphrase of the text, you need to use in-text citation to show where you got the information.

Do you know what plagiarism is? It is when you take someone else’s words and refer to them as your own. It is illegal and unethical to do this and can cause you to get into a lot of trouble. That is why it is so important for you to learn how correctly use in-text citation.

Take out a piece of paper and pencil. As you watch In Text Citations for Beginners (MLA), from BMS LMC, write down what a direct quotation and paraphrase are, and how to cite each in your paper:

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It is very important when you are writing that you use evidence from the text you have read to give your writing credibility. However, it is equally important that you cite (tell) where you got your information.

In-text citation does three things:

  1. gives credit to the author
  2. tells others where they can find the information
  3. shows that you know your sources

You will use an in-text citation when you use a direct quotation from a source. You also use in-text citation when you paraphrase the information in your own words. By doing so, you are acknowledging that you did not create the text on your own, but that you found it in a book.

A direct quotation is when you write something word-for-word from the text. You will put quotation marks before the first word of the quotation and after the last word of the quotation. You will put the period after the closed parenthesis.

There are four parts to an in-text citation:

  1. open parenthesis (
  2. author’s last name (Murphy
  3. page number you took the information from (Murphy 27
  4. closed parenthesis (Murphy 27)
  5. period after closed parenthesis (Murphy 27).

Follow that format in showing your in-text citation. Here is an example of a direct quotation and an in-text citation:

“She took a firm hold on her egg, waited until everyone at her table was watching, and whack — she found herself with a hand full of crumbled shell and something cool and slimy running down her face” (Cleary 60).

Notice where the quotation marks are, where you place the in-text citation, and where the end punctuation is placed.

Before you continue to the Got It? section, review the material by taking this short quiz. Be sure to read each question carefully before choosing the correct answer.

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If you have any questions about things you missed on the quiz, discuss them with your teacher or parent or review the video and information above and retake the quiz.

Continue to the Got It? section when you are comfortable with in-text citation.

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