I don’t know about anybody else, but teaching my students how to do a Works Cited page can be tedious at best. If I go over it in class, it’s like they don’t hear me. I tell them where to find the information in their book to make sure they’re doing it right–they do what they want.
Worst of all, they want to use citation websites like EasyBib and Citation Machine.
I don’t have a problem with those sites in general. My issue is that the sites always miss information or put the information in the wrong place. I tell my students if they use the sites to still double check because the citations might be wrong.
So! This semester I decided to do a different type of citation activity. I took them to the campus computer lab and gave them the following activity. This activity concentrates on formatting the works cited page as well as finding information of web sources to do citations.
From working with my students and my work in the Writing Lab, I’ve learned that a lot of times, students’ citations are incomplete because they don’t know where to look for the information to complete their citations, so they don’t take the time to do so.
For this assignment, students need computers with internet access. They also need their assigned handbook. My class used The Bedford Handbook (8th Edition), so any page numbers referenced are from that. The Practical Argument referenced is the 2nd edition. (Again, whichever book they use is fine. It should just have a sample works cited page and a section on how to do citations.) I always have students who come unprepared to class, so I also used The Purdue Owl.
The sites below were all chosen randomly. I tried to get a good mix of blogs, news sites, and sites with no author since my students could use a small number of non-scholarly internet sources for their forthcoming paper. I present the links as numbers because I didn’t want to give them any information about the sites. I wanted them to find all the information on their own.
I start with explicit formatting instructions because Microsoft Word has that new default that automatically adds space when you hit enter, even if a document is single-spaced.
Our lab has all Windows computers that run Office 2013.
Directions for the activity:
- Open Microsoft Word.
- Click on the Page Layout tab. Click on Margins. Select Normal.
- Click on the Home tab. Change the font to Times New Roman and the font size to 12.
- Click on the Home tab, go to Paragraph and click the little arrow in the bottom right corner. Under Spacing, set the After to 0 pt.
- Put a heading on your paper. Hit enter.
- Press Ctrl + E.
- Type Works Cited in plain text (do not bold or italicize or make larger). Press enter.
- Press Ctrl + L.
- Save your document to the desktop or to your flash/jump drive.
For this assignment, you will type up citations for the links given below.
On pg. 550 of the Bedford Handbook is a sample web page with information on how to find the information needed for an online citation. Refer to that as you complete your assignment. You should also refer to pgs. 548-557 for how to cite the various types of online sources you may encounter.
If you do not have your handbook, you should refer to pgs. 338-341 in Practical Argument.
If you do not have either book, go here.
Use the following links to complete your citations and SAVE YOUR WORK OFTEN as you go:
Now that you have finished typing up your citations, you need to properly format your document.
- Put the list in alphabetical order (see pg. 572 in BH and pg. 530 in PA for directions).
- Properly indent your citations.
- In Microsoft Word, click on the Home tab, go to Paragraph and click the little arrow in the bottom right corner.
- Under Indentation, set the Special dropdown to Hanging.
- Double space your document.
- Press Ctrl + A to highlight the entire document.
- Click on the Home tab, go to Paragraph and click the little arrow in the bottom right corner.
- Under Spacing, set the Line Spacing dropdown to Double.
- Check that your list of citations looks like the sample on pg. 588 in BH, pg. 349 in PA, or this one.
- Double check your citations to make sure they are complete.
- Submit your assignment to Canvas. You may work quietly on other assignments until you are given further instruction.
And that’s it!
As a follow up, I tell them that they are allowed to use the citation generators (because they will anyway) but that they need to make sure to refer to their book or The Owl to make sure the citations are complete and correctly formatted. And since they have to do that anyway, they may as well just type up the citations themselves since I think it’s faster and less work. But, you know, do what you want, I say.
This work by Akilah @ The Englishist is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
One thought on “Lesson Plan Friday: Works Cited Page”
I never could understand why this is sometimes hard for students to understand. To me, it’s liking putting a puzzle together. Everything has a place and it needs to “fit”. I’m not taking any English classes anytime soon but I still find my copy of The Brief New Century Handbook an asset, especially for other subjects you have to write essays in. I recently discovered that the latest version of Word generates a works cited page for you. It’s easy to do but students will probably need a lesson or two on how to use it.