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I highly recommend that you use these checklists every time you do documentation.  Make it part of your final review process before you hand your paper in.  Remember, if you have no documentation (which means no in-text citations, no work cited, or both are missing), or if your documentation is such a mess that your in-text citations cannot be matched to your work cited, then it is the same as if you didn't cite anything at all.  Worst case scenario is plagiarism, and they put you up against the wall and throw water balloons at you, or whatever happens to be the penalty in your state.  Best case scenario:  You don't get any credit at all.


Work Cited Checklist

First, check to make sure everything that should be in your work cited is there and in the correct order and the correct format.  You are looking specifically for the:

  • Author’s name:  last name, comma, first name, period.  If there is more than one author, you only list the first author last name first and the others first name first.  As well, are all of your authors real people and not collective groups?  (They must be real names – if not, then you have no author.)
  • Article or story title:  First letters capitalized with a period at the end and quotation marks around it all (and that period will be inside of those quotes).
  • Date of most recent publication, update, or copyright in International format:  Day Abbreviated month period year period.  (For instance:  04 July 1776.)  Remember:  If you abbreviate anything, then there needs to be a period after it.
  • Webpage title:  Capitalized and underlined followed by a period (not italicized)  Also, the underlines should not extend beyond the title – attention to detail.
  • Date Accessed:  The date you got it off the web; once more, international format followed by a period.
  • URL:  This is the hyperlink from the site.  The best bet is to copy and paste.  Test it.  If it doesn’t take you back to the quote – or as close as possible – then something’s wrong.  It is the only item without a period at the end.   Also, do not use carrots on either side: < >.

Overall Appearance Checklist

Once you are certain that all the information in your work cited is correct, then check the overall appearance of your work cited.

  • Is your work cited titled as such?  Work Cited should be in bold, centered, and then there needs to be one space between the work cited and the title.  (No underline, quotation marks, italics, or extra size, and no colon following the title.)
  • Did you single space your work cited entries, but double space between them?
  • Did you leave the first line of each work cited entry all the way to the left margin, but Indent any subsequent lines for each entry?
  • Did you alphabetize your entries?  (You shouldn’t alphabetize by “A,” “The,” or “An,” but it really doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent.  As well, Titles that begin with numbers will go before titles that begin with the alphabet.)
  • Did you use Spaces?  There should be spaces between every word in every item.  As well, remember that numbers are considered the same as words, so you must have spaces between numbers, too.
  • Is the Period at the end of your article title inside of the Quotation Marks?  (Seriously, this is the easiest place where I can check attention to detail.)
  • Did you Normalize your work cited:  Is all the type the same font and size?  Are the colours the same?  As well, there should also be no bold or italics in the works cited.
  • Did you only list each entry once?  Regardless of how many times you cite a source, it will only be listed once in the work cited.
  • Is the webpage title different from the URL?  Remember, the webpage title is not the same as the web address, at least, not always.  For instance, the title of my apartment building is Summit Apartments at Lake Union.  That is not the street address.  Granted, there are places where the address is the name of the place, but it should never be assumed automatic.  
  • Is there anything that just doesn’t belong?  If a date is missing, you will not have:  n.d.  If there is no author, you will not have:  No Author.  It is also pointless to have the word:  Web.  If we can’t tell it’s from the web by the URL, writing “Web” is probably not going to help, and if you don’t have the URL, the word “Web” won’t take us to the site.  There should be no quotations from the original work with the work cited.  And your work cited entries should not be numbered or bulleted.


In-Text Citations Checklist

This checklist is by far the most crucial.  After all, if your in-text citations do not match what comes first in your work cited, it’s the same as if you didn’t document anything at all.  And that’s not good.

  • Is youIn-text Citation the same as whatever comes first in your work cited?  It must be.  This is not an option.  It is not a choice.  And that means it must be spelled the same.
  • Is your in-text citation in Parentheses immediately following the direct quote or paraphrase you are citing?
  • Are there Spaces before and after the parentheses that contain your in-text citation? 
  • If you have a number that differentiates between two sources that have the same first item (either the same title or the same author), does that number come before the title or author’s name?  Like this:  (1 Eldridge)  As well, is there a space between that title and that number?
  • If you have a page number, does it come after the author or article title?  Like this:  (Tupidsay 45)  Like above, is there a space between that title and that number?
  • Is there any unnecessary punctuation inside of your in-text citations?


Something to Keep in Mind

Teachers do randomly check sources, regardless of how good they may look (I do).  However, you can be pretty well assured that teachers will check those sources where the things appear to be wrong, which include confusing titles, missing information, using the wrong format, or simply being inconsistent.  If something is inconsistent (such as one date is in international format and another is not), it tells your teacher one thing for sure:  One of them is wrong.  It would be less obvious, for instance, if all of your dates were consistently wrong than if only one were wrong.

After all, documentation, for the most part, is all about attention to detail.  If you’re not paying attention on the easy stuff, like putting your period inside of the quotation marks, then you can’t possibly be that good when it comes to figuring out that “Britannica, Encyclopedia” was not really the author.  And if you’re making mistakes in your work cited, how accurate are your quotes?  While they’re at the site, you can bet teachers are going to check.  However, instructors rarely check sources that are formatted perfectly.


And Finally

Do NOT use the computer programs that create work cited and in-text citations.  Ever.  They are unreliable, they can’t readily be edited, their URLs can’t be followed, they allow you to make mistakes, and you never really learn how to do it right.  And they just annoy most instructors.  A good rule is never to annoy the person giving you a grade, especially if that person has made a definite point of telling you what annoys him (and by “him,” I mean “me”).