Lesson 1. Citation basics
Lesson 2. Building your research datafile
Lesson 3. Using Citation to document sources
For Trial Users: Information on Purchasing Citation

When I was a graduate student, I would have given anything for a program like Citation. It would have saved me from that 3-oclock-in-the-morning-panic (where did I put that notebook with the bibliography in it!!!???). And later, when I was teaching, I would have deeply appreciated having a program that made it so easy for students to understand how to properly document their sources.

Here's the most important thing you need to know about Citation: the program was designed to streamline what you already do as you are writing a research paper: taking notes, organizing your research, and citing sources. You'll use Citation to:

  • Compile a working bibliography
  • Store notes taken from research sources
  • Review notes dealing with subjects covered in different sections of your paper
  • Format your author-page intext citations (as author-page cites or endnotes), along with a list of Works Cited

The way you're going to become efficient with Citation is really quite simple: every time you find or read a source work, you're going to enter a Citation bibliographic record. Every time you see a passage you might want to quote (or paraphrase) in a paper, you're going to enter a note record.

You won't believe how organized, focussed, and prepared you are going to feel when it comes time to start writing your paper. -- And don't ever underestimate the power of feeling prepared on the psyche. It does wonders for your confidence as a researcher, and hence -- most importantly -- your ability to dig into the writing process.

Before you can begin working with your own research materials, though, you'll need to take a quick look at the mechanics of how Citation works. So let's get going!

To install the Citation trial version, double click on the citationsetup.exe file you downloaded from our web site. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen. The installation will only take a couple of minutes.

If you want to check to make sure Citation has installed properly, start your word processor (either Word or WordPerfect) and check to make sure Citation is on the Tools menu.

Now let's get going on some Citation basics for MLA Style.

Start Citation from the TOOLS menu of your word processor:

Citation starts in ready mode.

Before we do that, though, take a moment to resize the windows for the word processor and Citation, so that you can move easily between the two, like this:


Sometimes instructions for using a software program - however easy the program is to learn - rely on "funny words" to tell you what you need to know. Database programs are notorious for having a specialized set of these curious terms: database, for one - record, form, and field. If you've never heard these words before - not to worry. We've written the world's shortest dictionary for you to disambiguate (!) these terms:


or, for a slightly longer glossary, see:

A Data File is where you'll record your bibliographical information for a paper, article, or project. We're going to open a sample datafile, to see how Citation records look:

Click FILE, OPEN, and open the sample Citation datafile called


Once you have the file open, take a few moments to browse. Press the Page Down key to get an idea of how Citation stores bibliographic information - there are different "forms," with "fields" labeling the types of bibliographic information that may be needed for various types of source works, as well as a few note records, for excerpts taken from those works.

Notice too that the "notecard" forms in Citation have labels (e.g., Author, Year, Title) to help you remember which information to enter for proper citations. You can add keywords (subject terms that will let you search for all your notes and sources on a particular topic) and Abstracts (quick summaries of what the work is about), too - more on this later - or click the Add Note button to enter quotes (and your comments) from the work.

Writing a bibliography for these works in MLA format is simple:

  1. Open a new blank document in your word processor.
  2. On the Citation menu, click GENERATE, BIBLIOGRAPHY FROM DATAFILE, and set the Style option in the dialog to MLA (6th Ed.), like this:

  3. Click OK. Citation will write an alphabetized reference list for the bibliographic records in refsamps.cit, in MLA style, to your document! When it finishes, the document will look something like this:

Easy, eh?

Oh, btw. This also works in other styles, AND - later on, we'll see how you can get Citation to write Author-page citations in the text of your paper, as well as a list of Works Cited.

For research papers in MLA Format, your bibliography will need to be double spaced. If you have the "Normal" or default document style set to double space, your bibliography will automatically be double spaced. If you don't want to change the default style, just change the "Spacing" setting in your word processor. The thing to remember is that the spacing for your bibliographic references is controlled by the word processor, not Citation. You can also use the ruler to adjust the size of the hanging indent.

To change from italics to underlining (or vice versa), just click File, Preferences on the Citation menu, and change the setting labeled "Italics as Underline."

To use abbreviations for publishers (MLA style requires abbreviating publisher names), check the option to "Use Publisher Abbreviations."

This is a fun step! Find the last book you've read. Now click EDIT, ADD RECORD on the Citation menu.
Select the data entry form for a Book - you'll get a blank record form on the screen. Type in the name of the author(s) like this:

Smith, Jane R.; Wilson, Brent M.; Ellis, Paul B.

Notice that in Citation records, you enter names with the last name and first name reversed, and, when there are multiple authors, separate the names of individuals with a semi-colon. -- Citation will take care of putting the names in the proper sequence when you generate your references. This is an important advantage to using Citation: it means that you'll be able to write MLA style footnotes, endnotes, and a bibliography from the same records. You'll even be able to switch to Turabian style without having to go back and edit the names of authors and editors.

Now add the year of publication, the title of the book, the publisher, and the city where the publisher is located.

When you finish, the information in the record should look something like this:

You'll want to note -- for when you begin entering bibliographic records for your own research -- that Citation lets you enter keywords (subject terms that will help you find sources and notes on specific topics quickly) for each work, as well as an Abstract - which you can use to summarize the importance of the work for your research.

Finished? Great! You've just added your first Citation record!

In the next lesson, we'll do more work with building your datafile, using the Citation StyleGuide to find examples for different types of sourceworks.

If you're like most researchers, there are passages in the book you just entered that you've marked as "significant" - passages that you might need to quote, to help support your own theories, or, perhaps, passages that summarize a position you want to challenge in your own research.

This is actually a critical step in using Citation effectively: when you encounter an important passage in your research -- make a note in the margin (with a pencil!). Then, when you've finished reading, enter a bibliographic record - and then note records for all the passages you've checked.

The great thing about using Citation to store your notes is that you'll automatically have the bibliographic information for citing the passage - and the keyword field is going to let you review those notes later when you are drafting your outline.

Here's how to add notes that are "stamped" with correct citation information:

  1. With the bibliographic record on your screen, click the Add Note button for the first note.
  2. In the CiteKey field, replace the [PG] text with the page on which you found the passage.
Remember: always enter your comments (your thoughts on the passage) in the field labeled Comments, and enter a passage that requires a reference - whether paraphrased or quoted directly - in the field labeled Excerpt In the next lesson, we are going to deal with notes in more detail.


Citation can format footnotes instantly, using the Preview box. Let's have a quick look at how this works.

  1. On the Citation menu, click VIEW, PREVIEW BOX.
  2. Click the STYLE entry on the menu, and set the style to MLA Footnote / Endnote style.
  3. Press Page Up to go to a bibliographic record.
The bibliographic record you just entered will display in the Preview box, formatted in MLA footnote style!

This method of formatting footnotes can be really handy when you are working on shorter papers for classes. To include a formatted footnote or endnote in your paper, do this:

  1. Open a blank document in your word processor, and type a practice sentence (anything will do - it doesn't need to make sense).
  2. Now create a footnote or endnote with your word processor (click Insert, and then look for the entry to create a footnote / endnote)
  3. On the Citation Preview box, click Insert.
The footnote (or endnote) for the work you want to cite is now formatted in MLA style!

While you may prefer to use footnotes / endnotes for shorter papers, the preferred method for documenting sources in MLA style is to use author-page cites (Jones 223) in the text of the document, and a list of Works Cited at the end with the full bibliographic citation.

Citation can also generate MLA style citations for a paper: placing author-page cites (Smith 223) in the body of your paper, and an alphabetized list of Works Cited for the works you've cited.

Let's look at a datafile and document in the Citation tutorial materials to see how this works:

  1. Use your word processor to open this document:
    and then use Citation to open another datafile:
    Look at the contents of the field labeled "CiteKey" - and then look at the text between curly braces in mladraft.rtf.
    Example: at his marriages {Darmon 1933: 355}.
    The CiteKey for a Citation record, when placed in the document between curly braces, tells Citation to format a reference for this work.

  2. On the Citation menu, click GENERATE, CITATIONS FOR DOCUMENT. A dialog will display, with two sides: one for defining the style to use for cites in the body of your paper, and one for setting the style for the Reference List.

    Set the options for In Text Citations to
    Short Form, MLA 6th Ed.

    and then set the style for the Reference List to
    MLA (6th Ed.)

    When you finish, the dialog should look like this:

  3. Click OK. Citation will look through mladraft.rtf for the CiteKeys, make a copy of the document, and then write the citations.

Like magic, isn't it!

Now you'll need to start entering bibliographic information into Citation.

First, gather up some journal articles and books you've read recently. Now you're ready to get going. First step: create your own datafile:

  1. On the Citation menu, click FILE, NEW DATAFILE.
  2. Select the form to use for your first record.
  3. Start entering bibliographic information!
  4. Click FILE, SAVE, and give your datafile a name.

In the next lesson we are going to continue building your own datafile.

If you have any questions, just call or email. We're happy to help you get started.

You can contact us via forum, email or phone, whichever you prefer:

Forum: http://www.citationonline.net/forums
Email: citation@thewritedirection.net
Phone: 800-800-1997 (U.S. Only) or 850-584-6590

If you haven't purchased Citation yet, you can do so at any time by going to our
secure order form

At this point, you have a pretty good idea of what Citation does. But have you started using the program to store you own research efforts yet? No? Well this message will get you going!

In this lesson, we're going to create a database and enter a few records. It's incredibly easy, so it won't take long. Remember, if you get stuck or have questions, just write me an email or give me a call.

Here's the first thing to do: find the books or articles you've read recently. (You're going to find it's easier to enter a record in Citation than it is to type a formatted reference into your word processor.) If you've downloaded PDF versions of articles from online services, or ordered faxed copies, make sure you know where they are.

Got the books & articles stacked up by your computer? Good. Let's create a database and enter Citation records for them:

If you haven't already created your own datafile, do this now:

  1. Start your word processor, and then click TOOLS, CITATION.
  2. On the Citation menu, click FILE, NEW DATAFILE.

    The Select Form dialog will "ask" you what type of source work you'd like to enter. Find the form name that fits one of the articles or books you've found - and click OK. Citation will add a blank form.

If you already did this in the last section, just click FILE, OPEN, and open your datafile.

Now you can begin building your datafile!

In the blank form, enter the bibliographic information from the article or book, in the appropriate "fields."

Here's the most important rules you'll want to follow when you are entering bibliographic information in Citation. Enter information like this:

	     Name(s):      Smith, James L.; Riggs, Constance
	     Titles:       Rebuilding the wetlands: progress report 
	     Pages:        223-229 (all digits)	

Simple rules, but they'll help Citation figure out what's "what" when it comes time to write your references. A complete and detailed set of rules for entering information in Citation records, complete with illustrations, can be found in the style guide section. We'll have a look at that in a minute.

Next. If you like, you can enter keywords and an abstract - a short description of the significance of this work to your research.

Keywords are really useful, because they let you group notes and sources dealing with similar subjects easily. If you aren't certain which keywords are going to be useful to you when you are writing - leave this field blank - you can go back later, after you've drafted an outline of your paper, to enter the keywords.

And there you have it! You've started your Citation database!

You will certainly want to be able to add records you've located through online databases into your database when you are researching an issue, as well -- but first you need to make sure you know how the bibliographic records need to look in Citation.

You can have a look at a section of the Handbook (part of Citation's online Help system) that provides illustrations of Citation records for the most typical kinds of source works if you like by going to: http://citationonline.net/CitationHelp/CitationHandbook/tut006othersources.htm

Before we add more records, let's save your datafile:

  1. On the Citation menu, click FILE, SAVE.
  2. Give the datafile a name, and click OK.

Now that you have your own database, let's add one or two more bibliographic records for the other source works you've gathered up for this exercise:

  1. On the Citation menu, click EDIT, ADD RECORD. The Select Form dialog will display.
  2. On the Select Form dialog, choose the appropriate form for the type of source work, and fill in the fields.

If you have trouble figuring out which form to use, or what type of information should go in the fields, just search the references section of the Citation Styleguide, at

Over the years, we've compiled hundreds of examples from the major styleguides (AGU, AMA, APA, ASA, CBE, Chicago, MLA, CBE, Turabian, etc.). Originally we developed the styleguide to check to make sure Citation could handle all the different types of source works - but it's now available as a resource for user. In our styleguide, you should be able to find an illustration of just about any type of work you need to enter in your database.

In addition to examples, the CSG offers you a search feature (so if you can't find the type of source work listed, you can search the styleguide), and a list of "basic rules" to follow when entering author names, titles, years of publication - etc.

If you are looking for an example for a specific type of source work mentioned in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, go to:

Citation SG examples indexed for MLA Handbook

You'll find a sample Citation record for all the types of source works listed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

We all know that one of the most important parts of research writing is taking careful notes -- with accurate information about the sources of the notes and concepts you're planning to use in your papers. And, almost everyone goes through source works the same way: we find a passage we think is important, or a quote we might want to use in our papers, and we either check it in the margin or underline the text (hopefully in pencil if one is reading through a library book . . .).

Then, most of us have elaborate systems for transferring these marked passages (along with the bibliographic information needed for a proper citation) to notecards, or a word processing document - some people even have special spiral notebooks they use for their notes.

Unfortunately, using any of these methods makes it easy to lose bibliographic information on the sources for your notes (as most of us know from first hand experience).

Citation's Notes feature is a much more efficient way to handle this portion of the research writing process, because you can keep your notes in the file right alongside the bibliographic information on the sources. AND you can enter keywords to help you group notes on similar topics instantly. Here's a summary of how Citation will help you with your notes:

  1. Organize important passages in books and articles.
  2. Quickly search for appropriate passages.
  3. Automatically cite the source work for the quote or excerpt.

You can make your system even more efficient if you get into a routine: when you finish reading an article or a book, enter a bibliographic record for the work (we mentioned this in the previous message). Then, take some time to enter a note record for each of the passages you've underlined (or marked as important for your research).

To enter a note for an important passage, just go to the bibliographic record (click View, Short List to find a particular bibliographic record) click the Add Note button, and fill in the blanks! Make sure you enter paraphrased passages or exact quotes in the "Excerpt" field - and your own comments in the "Comments" field. That way there won't be any confusion about which words need to have the sources documented.

You can find a more detailed tutorial on our Web site that will guide you through the process of working with research notes at:


The most important thing you need to know about entering note records is that the specific page where the excerpt is located should be entered in the first field, the "CiteKey."

You can copy text from web pages and pdf files, and paste it into your Citation note records.

You can also copy the URL, and paste it into the Reference field, so you can easily relocate the web page with the original materal. To insert a link to a file on your computer, (a paper you've written, for instance, or the full text of an article in PDF format that you've downloaded) -- just click EDIT, LINK TO FILE, and use the Browse button to locate the file.

Now that you know how to add bibliographic and note records, here's a few tips on when to enter records:

  1. Whenever you read ANYTHING you might use in your writing, for an upcoming assignment or perhaps for a future paper -- enter a bibliographic record in Citation. Do it while you have the source work in front of you - don't wait!

    If you've marked passages as being important, enter the notes, too.

  2. Look through the Reference Lists of works that you have found to be useful and informative for additional research materials. This is, actually, one of the best places to look for research materials.

    Enter records for these works in Citation -- with the word "Readlist" in the keyword field.

  3. Search online databases for potential source works, and add records for works you think might be useful. Add the keyword "Read" to these records. When you do this, you can copy and paste text, but you should check to make sure the data in the fields is correct.

When you locate a potential source work on the internet, you don't have to retype all the information. You can copy and paste text into the proper fields in a Citation record -- as you do, however, you will need to check the information to make certain it is entered in the proper format. If it isn't -- Citation won't be able to format your citations in proper MLA Style for you.

Online databases rarely display names in the format Citation requires in order to format names correctly for MLA Style. This is actually quite important if you want to build a datafile of your personal research that you can use as you move forward in your career. Not everyone requires MLA Style, and making sure the names are entered in this manner gives you the flexibility to write references in another style.

Smith, Joseph P.; Williams, Alan R.; West, Jane L.

If possible, find the full name, rather than just initials.

MLA style requires that monthly dates be entered in this manner:

12 Jan.

If the online service spells out the month, enter the abbreviation for it in your Citation datafile. Citation doesn't reformat the date - so you need to check to make sure this is correct.

Article / Book Titles.
Many online services provide titles with significant words capitalized, and Citation can't undo this (otherwise we would accidentally put proper names in lower case).

Titles should be entered with all words except proper names in lower case:

Traveling along the real road: adventures in Idaho

Capitalization is changed for to be correct for the style you select for formatting the references.

Journal names.
Many online services use abbreviations for journals, while MLA Style requires full journal names. If the names are abbreviated, edit the text to provide the full name of the journal.

There are many online services now that allow you to do more than simply search for materials to read. You can use them to order copies of articles, reports, etc., for immediate delivery, by email, in PDF format, HTML, or sometimes by Fax. The amount of time these services can save you (sometimes it is quite time consuming to find a particular journal volume in the library) is considerable. If you have the choice between a faxed article and one that is in electronic format (either PDF format or HTML) -- go for the electronic version. You'll be able to copy important passages directly from the document to your note records.

Before you head to the library (or go to the internet), you can use Citation to print out a reading list for the potential sources you need to locate. Here's how to write a reading list:

  1. Open a blank document in your word processor.
  2. On the Citation menu, click GENERATE, BIBLIOGRAPHY.
  3. Set the style to READINGLIST, and click OK.

The list of sources you want to consult is organized, and right at your fingertips - just the way you want it to be when you are researching a topic!

One of the great features in Citation is the "Generate Notecards" feature, which allows you to group notes and/or sources on similar topics. This is especially useful when you are drafting an outline for a paper - you can review the notes and sources you've researched on the various topics you are going to cover in different sections of your paper.

Give it a try now, using one of the keywords you've entered:

  1. Open a blank document in your word processor.
  2. On the Citation menu, click GENERATE, NOTECARDS.
  3. Set the radio button options to print just NOTE records (when you are actually working on your outline, you may want to print notecards for bibliographic records as well as note records.
  4. Set the FIELD (this is the field Citation will search) to KEYWORD, and type in the keyword.
  5. Click OK.

You can also use this feature to just review ALL your notes - some people like to start the process of drafting an outline for a paper this way. You can also set the FIELD option to GLOBAL, so that Citation finds a term in Keywords, Titles, Abstracts - any field.

When you are ready to take a break, click FILE, SAVE, and then FILE, CLOSE.

I always tell people to make a copy of their database every so often (just as you would a paper or anything else on your computer that contains valuable information).

Now that you know how easy it is to keep your research sources and notes organized with Citation, you can take a moment here and there over the next few weeks to build your Citation database of all the books & articles you've read recently.

You can watch Citation format the information you are entering into a record as a reference! Just click View, Preview box, and set the Style option to the format (MLA, APSA, Chicago) you use most often for your references.

If you haven't purchased Citation yet, you can do so at any time by going to our
secure order form

OK! You've got a pretty substantial database by now. In this lesson, we're going to see how you can use that database to cite sources in your papers. We'll learn how to insert CiteKeys (remember these from the first message?) in your document, and generate your references in APA Style.

As we saw in the first tutorial exercise,
CiteKeys are "links" in your document telling Citation which sources you are citing. The keys should be inserted at the places in your document where you would normally type an author-page cite.

Ready to try inserting a few CiteKeys? Good! Here's how:

  1. Open a blank document with your word processor, and type a sentence or two (pretend you're writing a paper). Watch where the cursor is - that's where the CiteKey will be inserted. If you have a paper you've been working on, even better. Make sure you make a backup before we start, though, -- backups are always a good idea.

  2. On the Citation menu, click VIEW, SHORT LIST. Citation will display an "index" of the records in your database.

  3. Highlight one of the bibliographic works in the Short List, and then click the Cite button on the Short List dialog. Citation will insert a CiteKey for that work into your document. It should look something like this {Willis 2003}. If you need to add a specific page reference, type a colon and the page number after the year, like this: {Willis 2003: 24}

  4. Now highlight a note record (notes are tagged in the Short List, so it should be easy to find one), and click the Cite button. Citation will insert the Excerpt (quote) you've e entered in the Note record, along with a CiteKey for source. For note records, the CiteKey should include a specific page reference, as illustrated here:
    Facts do not explain. On the contrary, it is facts facts which require explanation {Robinson 1997: 221}.
    If you've been careful to enter specific page references when you add note records, the pages will already be in the CiteKey!

MLA Guidelines for author-page citations in the text of the document require that if you have mentioned the author's name in the sentence immediately before the cite, this information should be omitted in the citation.

Here are a few examples of the way the citation should look in the text of the paper:

In a recent study that received much press attention, Willis proved that many studies contain "cooked" data (22).

In a study published in 2001, a prominent researcher proved that many studies contain "cooked" data (Willis 22).

You can tell Citation to omit this information by inserting "tags" in your CiteKeys.

If you have mentioned the author's name in the sentence immediately prior to the cite, type a "!" at the beginning of the CiteKey: {@Willis 2003: 24}. When Citation generates the intext Author-page cites, it will omit the author's name, like this. (24)

If you need to attribute credit to more than one source for a paragraph, enter the separate the Cite Keys from the bibliographic or note record with a semicolon. {Willis 2003; Jones 1999; Everett 2001} To include works in your bibliography that you have consulted, and which have influenced your position, but which you have not actually cited in the paper, insert a CiteKey at the end of the document, and then type an asterisk (*) at the beginning of the CiteKey: {*Willis 2000}

Once you've entered some CiteKeys in your document, you're ready to practice using Citation to generate your references:

  1. First, save your practice document.
  2. On the Citation menu, click Generate, Citations for document.
  3. Change the settings on the Generate Citations dialog to:
    Intext citations: Short Form, MLA style
    Reference list: Alphabetized, MLA Style
    Click here to see what the Generate Citations dialog should look like.
  4. When you've changed the settings, click OK.
About a moment after that click, you should be looking at a document with Author-Page citations in the text, and an alphabetized list of Works Cited at the end of the document.

Nifty, yes?

The great thing about using CiteKeys in your papers is that you can reformat the references instantly. Let's redo the references for your practice document as MLA style endnotes.

First, you'll need to close the document Citation created with the author-page cites, so that the document with the CiteKeys is on the screen. Now we'll just repeat the steps we just went through, but with a different style defined in the dialog:

  1. On the Citation menu, click Generate, Citations for document.
  2. Change the settings on the Generate Citations dialog to:
    Intext citations: Endnotes, MLA style
    Reference list: Alphabetized, MLA Style
    Click here to see what the Generate Citations dialog should look like. http://citationonline.net/image/gencit-mlaendnotes.gif

  3. Click OK.

To write endnotes, and not include a bibliography, just uncheck the option to include a Reference List.

To write footnotes, instead of endnotes, just change the option from "Endnotes" to "Footnotes," and leave the publishing style the same (the style for endnotes and footnotes is the same).

You'll want to note that you can include "content footnotes" (notes at the bottom of the page providing further explanation of a point made in the paper) in your papers, and you can enter CiteKeys in these footnotes. Citation will number the footnotes or endnotes properly.

Okay. Time for some technical details. This is what happens when you run Generate Citations for Document: Citation makes a copy of the document with the citation keys, and searches your datafile to find all the works you cited. When it's found them, it replaces the citation keys with Short Form (author-date) citations, and then writes a Reference list at the end of the document.

So here's an important pointer: when you are working with your own papers, you'll want to make certain you always save the copy with the references with a new name - don't overwrite the document with the Cite keys! You can use it to rewrite the references after you've made changes - or if you need to do the references in a different style.

Use you word processor now to go back to the document with the citation keys. If you like, you can rewrite the intext citations and references now, in a different style. Citation supports over 1000+ different citation styles, and all reference formats - endnotes, footnotes, author-page cites, and numbered cites.

By now, you know just about everything you need to know to work with Citation. You're nearly an expert!

The thing is, Citation really isn't all that complicated. As we said at the beginning of these messages, the program is simply designed to streamline what you already do as you are working on a paper. It can save you valuable time, of course, (so you'll have more time to focus on your writing) - but the real "trick" to making Citation useful is: making it a habit. Getting into a routine of using Citation whenever you finish reading a piece for your research:

Citation has a lot of other useful features - finding duplicates, selecting subsets - that sort of thing. You can browse through the instructions for using other features in Citation by going to:

Citation Online Help System
QuickStart Handbook
Quick Reference Guide
Citation EasyGuide

If you haven't purchased Citation yet, you can do so at any time by going to our
secure order form