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Citing Your Sources: Home

A guide to help you choose quality resources and how to cite those resources.

About Citations

Citing a source means that you show within the body of your text, that you took words, ideas, figures, images, etc. from another source. 

citation, in college reading, writing, or speaking, is a reference to a source of information. Citations are a short way to uniquely identify a published work (e.g. book, article, chapter, web site).  They are found in bibliographies and reference lists and are also collected in article and book databases.

In-text citations are short notes that must be included with your text where the idea, data, or evidence from that source is used. In-text citations should match to a complete list of full citations, usually included as the last page of your paper.

Full citations provide all of the elements necessary for the reader to find the exact same source used by the writer. Full citations should be provided, usually in a list at the end of your paper, or on a separate sheet for speeches, for all the sources used or consulted in your research project.

Citations consist of standard elements, and contain all the information necessary to identify and track down publications, including:

  • author name(s)
  • titles of books, articles, and journals
  • date of publication
  • page numbers
  • volume and issue numbers (for articles)

Always ask your instructor what citation style should be used for research projects.

What is citing?

Watch this short video to learn what citing is, when, where, and how to cite, and why it's important.

Avoiding Plagarism

Plagiarism is:

  • NOT just taking something word for word without citing a source
  • Intentionally or unintentionally representing the ideas or material from another source as your own work.
  • Failing to use quotations or paraphrase correctly
  • Turning in or publishing previously submitted work without citing (self-plagiarism).

The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own. For more information, you can find our plagiarism guide here

What needs to be credited or documented:

  • Words or ideas presented in a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, Web page, computer program, letter, advertisement, or any other medium
  • Information you gain through interviewing or conversing with another person, face to face, over the phone, or in writing
  • When you copy the exact words or a unique phrase from a particular source material
  • When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual materials
  • When you reuse or repost any electronically-available media, including images, audio, video or other media. 

Bottom line: Document any words, ideas, or other productions that originate somewhere outside of you. 

Things that do not need documentation or credit, including:

  • Writing your own lived experiences, your own observations and insights, your own thoughts, and your own conclusions about a subject
  • When you are writing up your own results obtained through lab or field experiments
  • When you use your own artwork, digital photographs, video, audio, etc.
  • When you are using "common knowledge" tings like folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events (but not historical documents)
  • When you are using generally-accepted facts, e.g., pollution is bad for the environment. Facts are accepted within particular communities, e.g., in the field of composition studies, "writing is a process" is a generally-accepted fact. 

If you are unsure, ask your instructor, a tutor, or librarian.

source: (Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL))