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Citing Sources  

Last Updated: Aug 7, 2014 URL: 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).


      • 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
        Northern State University
        1200 S. Jay Street
        Aberdeen, SD, USA 57401
        Phone: (605) 626-2645



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