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:
- Select the citation style you'll be using.
- Determine the type of source(s) you want to cite.
- 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.