Skip to main content
LibApps staff login

ASU101: Fulton Schools of Engineering

Introduction to the ASU Library resources, services and spaces for engineering students

Instructions for this page ..

A "citation" describes a bibliographic work. The purpose of a citation is to give the reader enough information about the work so that it can be found.  An instructor may give you a reading list or you may find citations to valuable articles while researching a topic, so you'll need to know how to find a book or journal article from its citation.  

This page is divided into 3 sections:

When you've finished reading/viewing the instructions, try out some practice exercises at the bottom of this page. 

What a Citation Looks Like

Citations to the literature usually contain 5 elements: 

  • Author(s) of the work
  • Title of the work
  • Source of the work 
    • For books, the source is the publisher
    • For journal articles, the source is the journal name
  • Location
    • For books, the location is the city where the publisher is headquartered
    • For journal articles, the location is the volume number, issue number and pages of the article within the journal AND/OR the "doi" (the digital object identifier) 
  • Date 

How these elements are arranged, what punctuation and/or spacing is used between the elements, when to capitalize words, and what font style to use (regular, bold, italic, etc.) depends on the "Citation Style".   There are many types of citation styles, some are general and can be used in many situations while others are specific to an individual journal or a society's publications. The field of engineering as a whole does not favor any particular style but some subfields have a preferred style (ex. in electrical engineering IEEE Style is frequently used).  When writing for a class assignment, ask your instructor what is his/her preferred citation style. 

The following citation examples are written in APA (American Psychological Association) Style, a general and very commonly used style that works well for many engineering fields.  Can you pick out the five elements in each of these citation examples?


Citations for Books:

  1. Shepherd, R., Frost, J. D. (1995) Failures in civil engineering: Structural, foundation, and geoenvironmental case studies. New York: American Society of Civil Engineers.
  2. Blockley, D. (2010)  Bridges: the Science and Art of the World's Most Inspiring Structures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Citations for Journal Articles: 

  1. Plaut, R. H. (2008) Snap Loads and Torsional Oscillations of the Original Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 309(3), 613-636. doi: 10.1016/j.jsv.2007.07.057
  2. Arioli, G., Gazzola, F. (2015). A new mathematical explanation of what triggered the catastrophic torsional mode of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Applied Mathematical Modelling, 39(2), 901-912. doi:10.1016/j.apm.2014.06.022

Using "Library One Search" to Find an Item

Books and journal articles can be found in the ASU Library' "Library One Search" database.    Start at the Libraries' home page ( and enter the title of the book or article in the search box.

Search Tips:

  • Using quote marks("") around the title will limit results just to items with that exact phrase.  For long titles, entering just the first 4-6 words may be sufficient.  
  • When searching for a book, it's common to find both the book and reviews of the book in the results list.  As in the screenshot below, the book will be labeled as either "book" or "ebook" while the reviews will be labeled as either "book review" or "journal article."   



Getting to the Full Text

Now that you've seen how to find the item in the Library One Search database, let's look at how to get from the database to the actual item.

  1. Shepherd, R., Frost, J. D. (1995). Failures in civil engineering: Structural, foundation, and geoenvironmental case studies. New York: American Society of Civil Engineers.

    As we saw in the box above, the book "Failures in civil engineering," was the first item in the results list. At the bottom of the record we can see that this is a printed book that is located in the Noble Science and Engineering Library, 3rd floor, and the book is on the shelf (i.e., it's not checked out). Click on this book link to go the ASU Library Catalog to see the record for this item.


    The catalog record repeats the information that the book is located in the Noble Science and Engineering Library, on the 3rd foor and that it is on the shelf (not checked out), however, the catalog gives us the missing piece of information that is needed to find the book on the shelf -- it's call number: TA656 .F35 1995.   The books in the library are arranged by these call numbers, so at this point, go to the 3rd floor of the Noble Library, and find the TA section, and then the 656 section within the TAs.

  2. Blockley, D. (2010)  Bridges: The Science and Art of the World's Most Inspiring Structures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    For this citation, we searched the title within quotes ("Bridges: The Science and Art of the World's Most Inspiring Structures"), just as we did with the first citation.  Again, the first item in the results list was the book for which we were looking. 

    In this case, the record indicates that this is an e-book (electronic book) that is available online; to see the electronic copy of the book, click on the "eBook: Full Text Online" link. This link will either take you directly to the full text of the book OR it will take you to a "landing page" from which you may open the book.

  3. Plaut, R. H. (2008). Snap Loads and Torsional Oscillations of the Original Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Journal of Sound and Vibration, 309(3), 613-636. doi: 10.1016/j.jsv.2007.07.057

    This is a journal article rather than a book but we'll still be entering the title "Snap Loads and Torsional Oscillations" in the search box.  The first item in the list was the journal article, which indicated the article was available online. 

    Search tip: Note that we only entered the first 5 words of this long title rather than entering the full title as we did with example #2 above.  Whenever the first 4-5 words of a long title are unique, you can usually just enter the beginning of the title (within quote marks) and still easily find the item.  

    Clicking on the "Journal Article: Full Text Online" link takes us directly to the article's "landing page" within the journal.   Although each publisher displays the information differently, if you are not taken directly to the full article, there will be either a link or icon to click on, as is the case below.
    screenshot of a journal article landing page

  4. Arioli, G., Gazzola, F. (2015). A new mathematical explanation of what triggered the catastrophic torsional mode of the tacoma narrows bridge. Applied Mathematical Modelling, 39(2), 901-912. doi:10.1016/j.apm.2014.06.022

    Now that you've seen how it's done, try finding citation #4 using Library One Search

Practice Exercises

Find the following items by using "Library One Search".    How can you tell whether the citation is for a book or journal article? 

  1. Bentil, KK. Construction site safety: a matter of life and costs.  Cost Engineering; Mar 1990; 32, 3.

  2. Cameron DR, Cohen BS, Morrison SA (2012) An Approach to Enhance the Conservation-Compatibility of Solar Energy Development. PLoS ONE 7(6):e38437. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038437

  3. J Colorado et al 2012. Biomechanics of smart wings in a bat robot: morphing wings using SMA actuators. Bioinspir. Biomim. 7 036006 doi:10:10.1088/1748-3182/7/3/036006

  4. Jamieson, Peter.  Innovation in wind turbine design.  Chichester: Wiley, 2011. 

  5. Kazda, Antonin (2007)  Airport Design and Operation.  2nd ed. Elsevier. 

  6. Ponsford, Ian F. Actualizing environmental sustainability at Vancouver 2010 venues.  International journal of Event and Festival Management, 2011, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp. 184-196. 

  7. Rhoades, Dawna L.; Wauespack, Blaise and Seth Young.   Developing a quality index for US airports. Managing Service Quality. 10.4 (2000): 257-262. 

  8.  Taylor et al. Nanofluid optical property characterization: towards efficient direct absorption solar collectors. Nanoscale Research Letters 2011 6:225.


Note: When you create a bibliography for an assignment, you'll need to follow a consistent citation format as requested by your instructor.  For this exercise, the bibliography above purposely uses different formating styles for each item to demonstrate that although the format varies, the elements of a citation (author, title, source, etc.) remain essentially the same - it's just the punctuation and placement of the elements that vary.   


The ASU Library acknowledges the twenty-three Native Nations that have inhabited this land for centuries. Arizona State University's four campuses are located in the Salt River Valley on ancestral territories of Indigenous peoples, including the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) Indian Communities, whose care and keeping of these lands allows us to be here today. ASU Library acknowledges the sovereignty of these nations and seeks to foster an environment of success and possibility for Native American students and patrons. We are advocates for the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge systems and research methodologies within contemporary library practice. ASU Library welcomes members of the Akimel O’odham and Pee Posh, and all Native nations to the Library.