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Library Tutorial: Citing Your Sources

This guide is an information literacy tutorial for Spoon River College students.

What is a Citation?

What is a citation?

A "citation" is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source. It also gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again, including:

  • information about the author
  • the title of the work
  • the name and location of the company that published your copy of the source
  • the date your copy was published
  • the page numbers of the material you are using

Why should I cite sources?

Giving credit to the original author by citing sources is the only way to use other people's work without plagiarizing. But there are a number of other reasons to cite sources:

  • citations are extremely helpful to anyone who wants to find out more about your ideas and where they came from
  • not all sources are good or right -- your own ideas may often be more accurate or interesting than those of your sources. Proper citation will keep you from taking the rap for someone else's bad ideas
  • citing sources shows the amount of research you've done
  • citing sources strengthens your work by lending outside support to your ideas

Information from


Use the Citing Your Sources guide to learn about and find examples of MLA and APA citations. 


Go to the Plagiarism 101 guide for more information about academic misconduct. 


Defining Plagiarism:

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that plagiarism is, "The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft."

In order to avoid plagiarizing an author's work use quotations around exact words from the work, and when paraphrasing you must cite and give credit to the source within your work.

SRC Policy

Spoon River College's Student Handbooks states, "Academic misconduct generally refers to behavior in which an individual cheats, plagiarizes, or otherwise falsely represents someone else’s work as his or her own."

If you misrepresent someone else's work as your own, there can be serious consequences that will follow you throughout your academic career. SRC's Student Handbook, page 30 discusses more on plagiarism and it's ramifications.   

tip image

Start early - the longer you put off that paper, the more tempting it will be to take shortcuts and plagiarize.

Keep track - you might have every intention of crediting a source, but you can't remember where you found it. Keep track of all the information you plan to use in one place, such as a Word or Google document. 

When in doubt, cite - you can always ask your instructor or librarian if you need help. 


This Citation Guide has directions on formatting your reference page.