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Citing Sources  

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2012 URL: http://research.northern.edu/citing_sources Print Guide RSS Updates

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Frequently Asked Questions (and answers)

What is a citation?

  • A description of published work (art, papers, books, articles, speeches, graphs, pictures...)
  • It includes, at minimum, the author/creator, title, publisher and date of publication

When should you cite a source?

When writing for academic purposes, it's important that you cite your sources - basically, provide a listing of where you found the information you used in your paper (or speech, poster, PPT, etc.).  By citing your sources you:

    • Give credit to the author/creator of the original source.
    • Provide your reader with a location where they can find additional information.
    • Avoid plagiarizing.
    • Provide valid support for your arguments.
    • Demonstrate your familiarity with the field or discipline you're writing in.

      Include a citation when you...

      • Quote an author's exact words
      • Include a graph or image from another work
      • Summarize (put into your own words) someone else's thoughts

      When (or what) NOT to cite?

      • When you're including facts that are common knowledge (if you've found the same information in at least 3-5 sources).

      OR

      • If you're including your own opinions, conclusions or observations.

      Before you begin your works cited/reference/bibliography, you should:

      1. Select the citation style you'll be using.
      2. Determine the type of source(s) you want to cite.
      3. Alphabetize your sources by primary author/editor's last name
        (or by title if no author/editor is present).

        The tabs in this guide provide some basic information about the most commonly used citation styles and sources including: books, print & electronic articles and encyclopedia articles.  If you have questions, please contact a librarian or refer to the appropriate style manual for more detailed citation assistance.

        NSU Campus Resources

        Contact Information

        Williams Library
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        1200 S. Jay Street
        Aberdeen, SD, USA 57401
        Phone: (605) 626-2645
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