This guide was created in the 2010-2011 school year. The guidelines represent the collaborative effort of the teachers and school librarian of Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford.
There are many different and correct ways to cite sources. This guide is an adaptation of the rules created by the Modern Language Association (MLA). MLA is one of the most common citation styles.
The expectations for citing sources at Schechter grow from grade to grade. This guide details those expectations, and provides some forms that students can use to help them cite their sources.
By sixth grade, students are expected to include MLA-standard Works Cited pages as part of research projects. However, MLA citation guidelines were NOT developed to be used by middle schoolers. The rules are exasperatingly exact and often quite difficult. Therefore, Schechter teachers are not dismayed when middle school students’ Works Cited pages contain a wide variety errors!
Other research and writing skills are much more important to practice! The most important reason to create MLA-standard Works Cited pages, is because the skill will be required in high school!
The truly most important things to remember when citing are:
Unless you are quoting you must not copy. Sentences and paragraphs must be thoroughly paraphrased. (Changing a word here and here is not good enough.)
You must tell where you got your information, and you must provide enough information so that your reader can locate that source on his own. This includes providing the URL in all website citations (even though MLA does not require them).
You must not include citations for sources that you did not use.
Citing is a skill that grows with practice. Citing should always be done with the assistance of a guide or manual. Very few people can remember the rules of how to cite, and anyway, the rules change from time to time. For instance, the titles of books no longer have to be underlined. (Because of such changes, it is best not to use old manuals to help with proper citing or punctuation.) This guide is not meant to be adhered to like it is holy document! For instance, a teacher may choose to grow his expectations for citing from the beginning to the end of the year. This guide will undoubtedly prove frustratingly inadequate at times, and for that, the author apologizes.