Read This Before Documenting Any Sources with In-Text Citations

            Much of Composition II has to do with students demonstrating their skills in research and documentation. By research, I simply mean locating scholarly sources, such as books, as well as articles published in peer-reviewed journals. Sometimes I will refer to these publications as scholarly journals, academic journals, or simply journals. This course has nothing to do with training students to locate sources from newspapers, magazines, websites, and other mainstream sources, for they are not scholarly sources.

            This lecture is largely unconcerned with books, and will focus on journals. I also mentioned documentation, which means an in-text citation and its corresponding works cited page citation. There is a problem associated with the documentation of some journal articles, and the purpose of this lecture is to define that problem, and then explain how to avoid it.

            The problem stems from the fact that when you research journal articles through EBSCO, PROQUEST, or any of the OSU Library databases, you will click on links to access those journal articles, and the link you choose will determine the display/print form in which you access the article. The links will read PDF and HTML files, or PDF Full Text and Full Text. The upshot is that you should use PDF whenever possible, for the article will open up in Adobe Acrobat Reader, and it will be a scanned image of the article’s pages as they originally appeared in the journal. If, for example, the article begins on page 151 and ends on page 171, the in-text citations in your essay can cite the actual page numbers from the article because you will have accessed the article in its originally published form. In other words, when you cite the original page numbers from the journal it is a useful form of documentation to your readers, and that is the value of using PDF files. However, if you access the article in HTML, it means that the article has been converted to the equivalent of a webpage. When you print the article in HTML form, your browser will number the pages for you. If the article is ten pages long, the pagination will read as follows: page 1 of 10, page 2 of 10, and so on. This is not a useful form of documentation to your readers.


How to Document Correctly


            In this course it is NEVER acceptable to omit a page number or paragraph number from your in-text citations. You must use in-text citations, and the citation should always include either a page number or paragraph number. If your article is in PDF format, then use page numbers. If your article is in HTML format, then use paragraph numbers. When citing Webpages you should also use the paragraph numbering system. Below, I have included a table to assist you in choosing the works cited page citation that will correctly correspond to your in-text citation.

For articles in PDF and books

For articles in HTML

(and web pages)


In-Text Citations

Works Cited Citations

In-text Citations

Works Cited Citations

Always use the page number, but also use author’s last name when appropriate.




(Smith 108).





Work with the handout “Examples of Common Works Cited Page Citations.”

Always use the paragraph numbering system taught in class.




(Smith, par. 7).




(par. 7).

Use the following example for a scholarly article:


Tolson, Nancy. “Making Books Available: The Role of Libraries, Librarians, and Booksellers in the Promotion of African American Children’s Literature.” African American Review 32.1 (1998): 9-16. JSTOR. Web. 1 Oct. 2002.



Remember: The way you know that your article is in HTML form is that your browser will number the pages for you. If the article is ten pages long, the pagination will read as follows: page 1 of 10, page 2 of 10, and so on. If this is not the case then you probably have a PDF article.