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Citing Sources

Learn more about why we cite the sources we use, how to cite sources in a specific style, and strategies for avoiding plagiarism.

Citing Sources

When you research a topic you may use information from articles, books, or the Open Web to support your ideas. Building upon the ideas and knowledge of other people is the way we as individuals build and contribute to the knowledge around us. When you integrate other peoples' ideas and work into your own, it is important to give those authors credit for their hard work.

Tips for researching and citing:

  • Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas.
  • Write down the complete citation information for each item you use.
  • Take advantage of online citing tools.
  • Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words.
  • Always credit original authors for their information and ideas.

When to Cite

1. If you quote a resource, cite it.

2. If you paraphrase someone else's idea or statement, cite it.

3. If you're unsure, cite it.

4. If you state a fact that is not common knowledge, cite it.

Difference between Common Knowledge and Facts that need to be cited

Statement Cite? Reason
The internet has brought many changes to the field of journalism. No Most people are aware of this.
Newspaper circulation has dropped by 20 percent because of the Internet Yes This is a specific fact but not common knowledge.


An in-text citation is like a tag within a paper, presentation, poster, etc. It tells the reader or listener where to find a source's information in the associated bibliography.


A reference is the actual source's information such as author, title, and year of publication. This information appears within a bibliography.

Parts of a reference include:

  • author(s) name,
  • the complete title of the work,
  • publication information, and
  • the date of publication.

Different types of sources will dictate the inclusion of different elements in a reference. Consult the Styles Guides page for more examples in different styles.


MLA - Book

Author(s) name. Title of Book. Place of Publication:
     Publishing company, Year.
Travis, Raphael. The Healing Power of Hip Hop.  Santa Barbara, CA:
     Praeger, 2016.

APA - Book

Author(s) name. (Year). Title of Book. Place of 
     Publication: Publishing company. 
Travis, R. (2016). The Healing Power of Hip Hop. Santa Barbara,
     CA: Praeger.

MLA - Electronic Article

Author(s) name. "Title of article." Title of Journal/Magazine/
     Newspaper, vol. #, no. #, year, pp. #. Link/DOI
Williams, Martin, and Francis Buttle. "Managing Negative Word-Of-Mouth:
     An Exploratory Study." Journal of Marketing Management, vol. 30,
     no. 13-14, 2014, pp. 1423-1447. doi: 10.1080/0267257X.2014.933864

APA - Electronic Article

Author(s) name. (Year). Title of article. Title of Journal/Magazine/
     Newspaper, volume number(issue number), pages. Link/DOI
Williams, M., & Buttle, F. Managing negative word-of-mouth: an
     exploratory Study. Journal of Marketing Management, 30(13-14),
     1423-1447. doi: 10.1080/0267257X.2014.933864