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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

So how do you know when to cite? A few basic rules apply.

  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.

Fact Statement



The Internet has brought many changes to the field of journalism.


Most people are aware of this.

Newspaper circulation has dropped by 20 percent because of the Internet.


This is a specific fact that is not common knowledge.
Also, readers may want to know where this information came from so that they can use it for their own research.

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.

  • 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 Citation Styles Guides page for more examples in different styles.


example of an MLA book reference

example of an APA book reference

example of an MLA electronic article reference

example of an APA electronic article reference

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