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Research Planning Guide

Use this guide to learn about the research process and plan your research project.

Step 13: Format Paper; Create Bibliography

Now it's time to put the finishing touches on your paper.  You will want to consult a style manual to set up your title page, headers, margins, and other elements, according to the style your professor has specified—usually APA, MLA, or Turabian (see below).  You should go back through your paper to make sure that all of the quotes you have used have parenthetical references; then check to make sure that all the references match the list of sources in your bibliography or "Works Cited" list.  If you used someone else's ideas or research, you should include a parenthetical reference and citation, even if you didn't quote them exactly.  

Why should you take the extra time to polish your paper?

  • If you followed all the steps in the Research Planning Guide, then you have worked really hard!  Make sure your paper is worthy of the time you have already spent.
  • Your paper represents you!  Make sure it looks great—clean, elegant, and professional.
  • A well-formatted paper demonstrates your respect for your professor and for yourself.

For more information on avoiding plagiarism and using citations, see the attached pages on Plagiarism and Citing Help. Mouse over the Step 13 tab, then choose from the drop-down list.


Why should you care about citing your sources?

Have you ever heard the saying, "Give credit where credit is due?" When you properly cite a source in your paper or project, that's what you are really doing: giving credit.

It's important to give credit to the person who first thought of a good idea or said something worth quoting. If you don't give credit, then it appears that you are claiming the credit for yourself.  That's known as plagiarism

Don't claim credit, even accidentally. Give credit to the right person by citing your source.

What are citation styles?

Citations are meant to help the research process.  If you read an article, and the author mentions an idea he got from another author, you might want to read about that idea for yourself.  The citation helps you find the original source of the idea or quote.

Citation styles are taken from style guides or style manuals that have been created to help authors of books and articles to be consistent and comprehensive when writing for publication. 

The three styles used at DBU are:

APA - American Psychological Association

MLA - Modern Language Association

Turabian (Chicago) - from the University of Chicago; Kate L. Turabian wrote her manual to interpret the Chicago style for students writing theses and dissertations.

Using style guides may seem like a lot of extra work, but when you stick to a particular style, you are less likely to leave out important details, like dates or page numbers, that can help your readers locate your sources. 

What Style Should YOU Use?

To give your paper a polished, professional look, you should format it according to one of the three academic styles approved for use at DBU.  This is not really as difficult as it sounds, thanks to the DBU Writing Center.  Their website features information packets showing you how to format your paper according to APA, MLA, or Turabian (Chicago) style. 

As William Badke so wisely put it: "Professors tend to assume that a sloppy product is evidence of a sloppy mind, so get your style in order" (248).

Your professor will probably tell you which style to use.  Check your syllabus or assignment guidelines if you're not sure.  In general, certain colleges have certain preferences:

College of Business: APA // College of Christian Faith: Turabian // College of Education: APA or MLA //  College of Fine Arts: Music: Turabian // Communications: APA // College of Humanities & Social Sciences: English, History, Foreign Languages: MLA // Psychology, Sociology: APA // Political Science, Criminal Justice: APA // College of Natural Sciences & Math: APA or "scientific" MLA