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Guideline for ASA Citation Style

May 13, 2020

How To Format A Citation Following ASA Style

American Sociological Association provided a firm format of citation that should be used by students in their academic assignments. ASA style is a set of strict rules you have to follow in order to avoid the accusation of plagiarism. This format should be used in essays, research papers, reports, capstone projects, and other writings. It allows formatting citations and references properly, with all the necessary information about sources and authors of it. ASA style guideline contents more than just citation format; there are different rules on how to organize your text in the best way. 

There are some general rules: you should write in a 12-point type, and all text has to be double-spaced. Don’t forget about margins – they have to be a minimum of 1 inch on every side. ASA format requires the title page with all the necessary information about your writing. 

The purpose of ASA format of citation

Why it’s so important to format your citations properly? If you know what copyright is, it has to be clear for you. To avoid plagiarism, you have to mention every reference you have in your writing. Sometimes you have a lot of different sources, various authors, several types of content you have used (books, articles, websites, newspapers). If you don’t know how to organize it all into a strict understandable list of references, it can ruin your writing. Also, when you follow the rules of the ASA citation format, you care about your readers. A well-structured list of citations makes it so much easier to find a certain source and check the information you have presented. 

You should write down the references even if you haven’t quoted some part of the material, but just paraphrased the ides of it. It is still intellectual property, even if you rewrite it or change the order of the words. You don’t have to cite well-known facts or theories but pay attention to new terms or new thoughts about well-known statements. It’s always better to care about citations to not deal with copyright. 

Let’s see how to format your citations following the ASA style. There is some information about every kind of source with examples. 

Text citations

If you put the reference right within your text, you should mention the name of the author after it, and also, don’t forget to write down the year. If you have the exact quote, you should mention the number of the page where you took a quote from. Write it after the name and year. If you have the author’s name included in your text, write down only a year and the page number. Here are some examples for you to follow.

…as it was proven by Einstein (1920)

 …the problem has been solved (Einstein, 1920)

Pay attention, that you have to put a colon before the page number in that version of citation:

…the problem has been solved (Einstein, 1920:78)

If the source you are using has to authors, write down both their names

… the problem has been solved (Jackson and Goldberg 1930:56)

If you have three different authors. You should mention all of them, but only once. The next time you can just use et al. n every citation. If there are more than three authors, use et al. in every citation after mentioning only one author. This is how it should look: 

…the problem has been solved (Jones, Brown and Smith 1980) 

…the problem has been solved (Jones et al. 1980) 

  If you have several different sources in the brackets, organize them in alphabetical or date order and put semicolons between them. 

… (Lawrence 1980; Jones 1975; Adams 1943)

Format of reference list

The reference section is placed at the end of your work; it should include every source you have used while working on it. Footnotes are also should be mentioned here. 

There are six important rules about ASA format of a reference list: 

  1. Sources have to be double-spaced.
  2. The list should be organized in alphabetical order. Use the author’s last name, not the title of a book.
  3. Mention both first name and last name of the author. You could use initials only if the author used them in the original material. 
  4. You have to use hanging indentation to follow the ASA format.
  5. The names of the authors should be inverted. It means that you have to write the last name first and then put the initials of an author. But if there are several creators of a material, invert only the name of the first author. Other names and initials can be written in a regular way. 
  6. For the titles of books, articles, and other material, you have to use italics. If it’s not possible, highlight the title with an underline. 

ASA format includes some more rules you have to know. For example, it’s not obvious, but what should you do if all the materials you use are written by the same author? In what order should you put them? The answer is – use the year of publication. Write down the earliest materials first and then move to the recent ones. Another question – what if some of the works are written in the same year? Then you have to add letters to the year of publication (2002a, 2002b, 2002c).

What should you do if there is no date of some material? Do not just skip this part in your reference list; it will look like you made a mistake. In cases like that, you should write down “N.d” instead of date. 

Book citations

Let’s learn how to format citations within the reference list. Here is the structure for a book citation.

Author’s name, other authors’ names (if there are a few of them). The year of publication. The title of the book (written in italic). The country or city and state of the publisher: the name of the publisher. 

Examples:

Albert Einstein. 1949. The world, as I see it. New York: Reissue Books.

Jaynes, Gerald D., and Robin M. Williams, Jr., 1989. A Common Destiny: Blacks and American Society. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Articles citations

It’s pretty similar to book citation, but have some additional moments you have to mention. Besides the names of authors, publication, and publisher, there should be page number and volume number. Here is the exact structure. 

The names of all the authors. The year of publication. “The title of an article.” The name of the publication (written in italic) the volume number: the number of articles page. 

Examples:

Adamson, Jackson H., Jr., and Steavens C. Morris. 1999. “The communication between children and parents.” Journal of healthy relationships in families 56(2):154-44. 

Bloomberg, Jack L., Anna F. Willson, and Stephen Evans.2019. “The quality of education in America. Differences between American and European education.” American Journal of educational issues 23(1):432-72.

E-resources citation

Nowadays, students would rather use some internet resources than go to the library to research books and manuals. Almost every book and article can be found on the internet. Therefore, you should know how to cite the e-resources in the ASA formatting. It’s slightly different from regular book citation because you have to provide a link to the website you have used. Here you don’t have to write down page numbers. Instead, you have to write down the URL and date of access. Here are examples of how it should look.

Examples:

Clary, Mike. 2000. “Vieques Protesters Removed Without Incident.” Los Angeles Times, May 5. Retrieved May 5, 2000 (http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/updates/lat_vieques000505.htm).

Smith, Herman W., and Takako Nomi. 2000. “Is Amae the Key to Understanding Japanese Culture?” Electronic Journal of Sociology 5:1. Retrieved May 5, 2000 (http://www.sociology.org/content/vol005.001/smith-nomi.html).

Web-sites citations

Information taken from web-sites should be presented in the same way as e-resources. The only difference is that you are nor referencing any book or journal; the web-site is an original source of information. It’s necessary to provide a URL when you are using internet material, not just the data about publication. 

Example:

Smith, Herman W., and Takako Nomi. 2000. “Is Amae the Key to Understanding Japanese Culture?” Electronic Journal of Sociology 5:1. Retrieved May 5, 2000 (http://www.sociology.org/content/vol005.001/smith-nomi.html).

Government documents citation

There are a lot of different types of documents, so there are no strict rules on how to format them. Just be sure that you have mentioned all the important information about the document.

Example:

U.S. Department of Justice. Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2010. Crime in the United States, 2008: Administrative Crime Reports. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. 

How to format footnotes and endnotes

Footnotes aren’t really convenient to use, so try not to include them in your writing. But if you have to make a footnote, use it to add important information you can’t include straight into the text. Footnotes more about explanation and extra information, it’s not as same as a reference. Make sure your footnotes are numbered in the right order, with Arabic numbers. The information connected to the footnotes you have to place in a separate section named “Endnotes.” Be careful not to mix them, and don’t make your endnotes too long, they are going to be hard to read. Otherwise, you can place your endnotes on the bottom of a certain page. 

It’s easy to get lost in all these standards and requirements of ASA format, but it will get easier with some experience, so don’t be scared. Every rule makes some sense, and it’s not that difficult to remember them all. And even if you don’t, you can always reread this material and remember every rule you have to follow. 

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