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Citing a journal article is an integral part of academic writing. Citing sources properly not only demonstrates your attention to detail and academic integrity but also allows readers to verify your information and explore the sources you used.

In this article, we will explore the basics of citing a journal article, tips for accurate citations, and different citation formats commonly used in academic writing.

Understanding the Basics of Citing a Journal Article

When citing a journal article, it is essential to include key information such as the author's name, publication date, article title, journal name, volume number, issue number, and page range. The citation format may vary depending on the style guide you are using, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago/Turabian.

In general, most citation styles require the author's last name and initials to be listed first, followed by the publication date in parentheses. The article title should be in sentence case and enclosed in quotation marks. The journal name should be italicized and the volume number, issue number, and page range should follow in the appropriate format.

When citing a journal article, it is important to provide accurate and complete information to ensure that readers can easily locate the source. The author's name is an essential element as it gives credit to the individual who conducted the research or wrote the article. Including the publication date allows readers to understand the timeliness of the information and its relevance to their own research.

The article title plays a crucial role in identifying the specific article being cited. By enclosing it in quotation marks, readers can easily differentiate it from the journal-title. The journal name itself provides valuable context, indicating the publication in which the article was published. Italicizing the journal name helps to visually distinguish it from the rest of the citation.

The volume number, issue number, and page range are important details that help readers locate the article within the journal. The volume number refers to the specific volume of the journal in which the article appears. The issue number further narrows down the location of the article within the volume. Finally, the page range specifies the exact pages on which the article can be found.

Understanding the basics of citing a journal article is crucial for researchers and academics to accurately acknowledge the sources they use in their work. By following the appropriate citation style guide, authors can ensure that their citations are consistent, clear, and easily accessible to readers.

Things to Consider When Citing a Journal Article

To ensure accurate citations, it is important to carefully review and gather all relevant information from the journal article. Take note of any special formatting requirements specific to the citation style you are using.

Here is a list of key pointers to help you cite accurately:

  1. Pay attention to punctuation, capitalization, and spacing to ensure the citation is error-free.
  2. When citing the article title, make sure to use proper title case formatting. You should capitalize the first and last words of the title, as well as all major words in between. However, minor words such as articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or), and prepositions (in, on, at) should be lowercase.
  3. For the author's name, follow the citation style guidelines to determine whether to list the author's full name or just the last name followed by the initials. Additionally, if there are multiple authors, make sure to include all of their names in the correct order.
  4. When citing the journal title, be sure to use the full title as it appears in the article. If there is an abbreviation for the journal, include both the full title and the abbreviation in your citation.
  5. Always double-check the information you find online or in databases to confirm its accuracy. Mistakes in citation details can lead to confusion for readers and may even impact the credibility of your work.
  6. When searching for journal articles online, consider using reputable databases such as PubMed, JSTOR, SciSpace, or Google Scholar. These platforms often provide detailed bibliographic information that can be easily incorporated into your citation.
  7. Be cautious when citing articles from websites or blogs, as they may not undergo the same rigorous peer-review process as traditional journal articles. Always verify the credibility and expertise of the author and ensure that the website is reliable and reputable.

Citing a journal article requires careful attention to detail and adherence to specific formatting guidelines. By thoroughly reviewing the article, accurately transcribing the necessary information, and double-checking for accuracy, you can ensure that your citations are error-free and enhance the credibility of your own research.

What to Include in a Journal Article Citation?

To create a comprehensive journal article citation, ensure that you include the following key elements:

  • Author's name (Last Name, Initials)
  • Publication date
  • Article title (in quotation marks)
  • Journal name (italicized)
  • Volume number
  • Issue number
  • Page range

By including all these elements, you provide readers with the necessary information to locate and access the cited journal article.

How to Cite a Journal Article in APA Format

APA (American Psychological Association) style is commonly used in social sciences and education fields. It provides a standardized format for citing various sources, including journal articles.

When citing a journal article in APA format, the general structure is as follows:

  1. Author's Last Name, Initials. (Publication Year). Article Title. Journal Name, Volume(Issue), Page Range.

Let's break down these components and understand them in detail:

1. Author's Last Name, Initials: Begin the citation with the last name of the author, followed by their initials. If there are multiple authors, list them in the same order as they appear in the article. Use the symbol ampersand β€œ&” before the last author's name.

2. Publication Year: Include the year the article was published in parentheses after the author's initials. Use the full four-digit year.

3. Article Title: Provide the title of the article in sentence case, capitalizing only the first word and any proper nouns. Place a period at the end of the title, inside the closing quotation marks.

4. Journal Name: Write the full name of the journal in the title case, capitalizing all major words. Italicize the journal name and follow it with a comma.

5. Volume (Issue): Include the volume number in italics, followed by the issue number in parentheses. If the journal does not use issue numbers, omit this part. Place a comma after the volume and issue numbers.

6. Page Range: Indicate the page range of the article using the abbreviation "pp." before the numbers. Separate the page numbers for starting and ending page numbers with a hyphen.


Smith, J. A. (2021). The Impact of Technology on Education. Journal of Education Research, 25(3), 123-145.

Always be extra cautious and double-check your citations for accuracy and consistency. APA format has specific rules for capitalization, punctuation, and formatting, so it's essential to consult the official APA style guide or use the SciSpace APA citation generator to ensure your citations are correct.

How to Cite a Journal Article in MLA Format

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is often used in the humanities and liberal arts. It provides a standardized format for citing sources. When citing a journal article in MLA format, it is important to follow a specific structure to ensure accuracy and consistency.

The general structure for citing a journal article in MLA format is as follows:

  1. Author's Last Name, First Name. Start writing citations with the author's last name, followed by a comma and the author’s first name. If there are multiple authors, list them in the same order as they appear in the article.
  2. "Article Title" β€” Enclose the title of the article within the quotation marks. Capitalize the first letter of the title, subtitle (if any), as well as any important words within the title.
  3. Journal Name, Provide the full name of the journal in italics. Capitalize all the words in the journal title.
  4. Volume(Issue), Include the volume number followed by the issue number in parentheses. If the journal uses a continuous numbering system, omit the issue number.
  5. Publication Date, Indicate the year of publication. If the journal provides a specific date, include it as well.
  6. Page Range. Mention the page numbers where the article can be found. Use the abbreviation "pp." before the page range.

For example, a citation for a journal article in MLA format would look like this:

Smith, John A. "The Role of Literature in Society." Literary Journal, vol. 7, no. 2, 2022, pp. 35-52.

When citing journal articles in MLA format, it is essential to pay attention to details such as capitalization, punctuation, and formatting. These elements contribute to the overall clarity of your citations.

Furthermore, it is important to note that MLA format provides guidelines for citing various types of sources, including books, articles, websites, and more. Familiarizing yourself with these guidelines can help you accurately cite your sources and avoid plagiarism.

Final thoughts

Citing journal articles correctly is an essential skill for researchers and students alike. It ensures that credit is given to the original authors and provides readers with the means to access and verify the sources used. By following the specific citation formats for APA and MLA styles, you can accurately and effectively cite journal articles in your academic writing, contributing to the overall quality and integrity of your work.

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