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Cite your sources   Tags: citation, information ethics, plagiarism  

Last Updated: Jul 5, 2016 URL: Print Guide

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Why cite?

Using someone else's work without citation is plagiarism and may have serious consequences, especially for college students.

Any time you incorporate someone else's ideas or words into your paper or presentation, you must cite them. These ideas may not only come from books and journal articles, but from conversations, images, multimedia, speeches, blogs, etc. They need to be cited for several reasons:

  • to give credit to the authors or creators of those sources or ideas
  • to allow your readers to find and benefit from the exact sources you used
  • (in a college paper or project) to let your professor know how you arrived at your conclusions

Citation Style and Style Guides

Citation styles provide the framework for presenting your citation information clearly and consistently. Different disciplines use different citation styles (see chart below).

APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and Chicago/Turabian are three of the most commonly used styles. 

Style Manuals are available in print and/or online.  Many universities have compiled samples from various styles and posted them on Web sites. You can find these, plus additional information on citing, writing, grammar, etc. in this guide.

If you're not sure what citation style to use, always ask your professor.


Components of a Standard Citation

The basic components of a citation are Author, Title, and Publication Information. Depending on the source, these elements may be somewhat different.

Books: Author (or Editor), Title, Publisher, Place of publication, Year of publication

Articles: Author, Article Title, Journal Title, Volume #, Issue #, Date, Pages

Web Site: Author (or Company or Organization), Web Page Title, URL, Date (posted or revised), Date retrieved

Having citation information for each source used -- and presented in an organized and consistent way -- makes it easier for both you and your readers.


Styles Used by Discipline

The OWL at Purdue provides a "complete discipline listing" of citation styles.

EndNote provides the following chart for commonly used styles by discipline.  Keep in mind, this is just a guideline, not a rule.


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