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Using Google Books to Help with Academic Citations

written by: J. Edward Casteele•edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 7/28/2010

A number of students are finding that they can locate out-of-print and hard-to-find books on Google Books. Citations for academic works can be taken from these books with little difficulty, provided that the citations are formatted correctly within the finished work.

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    Google Books

    Google Books allows users to search a number of books and magazines. Google Books is a service hosted by the search engine giant Google which lets users search the contents of thousands of in-print and out-of-print books and magazines. Google has worked out agreements with the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and certain independent authors and publishers to allow a large variety of books to be included in whole or in part within the Google Books service. Because Google Books puts so many books within reach of anyone with Internet access, it can be a useful tool when trying to find citations for academic works such as term and thesis papers. Google Books citations are done in much the same manner as physical book citations, with the main difference being that the book in question is digital.

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    Google Scholar

    Google Scholar provides access to academic articles and legal documents. As an offshoot of Google Books, Google has created Google Scholar to allow users to view academic and legal texts in the same way they would be able to view books online. Much like Google Books, Google Scholar opens up a number of resources so that students can search these documents for information pertaining to their academic works. Google Scholar offers research papers and reports, patent filings, and a variety of publicly-available legal documents which can be used and cited as references when needed in a variety of academic works.

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    Academic Citations

    Whether you are using a print copy of a book or looking it up on Google Books, citations generally must be done in a certain way for use in academic papers. In general, there are two types of citations that you will need: in-text citations and a bibliography citation.

    An in-text citation is placed in parentheses to show the source of a quote or piece of information, giving the author's last name and the page numbers that the citation refers to. The only exception to this format occurs when the author's last name appeared in the text just before the citation was given; in this case, you may cite the author by placing the appropriate page numbers only. An example of this form of citation would be:

    (Dickens 35-37)

    Bibliography citations are longer citations which are placed within the bibliography section or page of the academic work. These citations use a different format, being listed in alphabetical order by the author's last name. The author's name is given first, followed by a period, after which the title of the book or article being cited is given (again followed by a period.) The city of publication is listed next, followed by a colon, after which the publisher is listed and followed by a comma. The year of publication is the past portion of the citation, with a period following it. An example of this form of citation would be:

    Dickens, Josef. The Big Book of Josef Dickens Quotes. New York: Josef Dickens Press, 1981.

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    Finding Needed Info for Citations in Google Books

    When using Google Books or Google Scholars for citations, finding the information you need is generally quite easy. The Google header with information about the book, magazine or document you are viewing generally contains the title and author of the book, giving you two of the pieces of information you need without having to search. The page numbers are found on the page you are viewing, though you need to remember the range of pages you use if you take information from multiple pages within a book online. Publisher information and year of publication can be found on the title page of the book you are viewing or in the masthead of a magazine. Once you have compiled this information, you can make in-text citations or cite the work within your bibliography; there's no need to mention that you accessed the book or article via Google Books.