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Citing Your Sources   Tags: apa, citation, mla, references, research  

This guide contains information on citation best practices as well as brief citation guides for both MLA and APA styles.
Last Updated: Jan 23, 2018 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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About this Guide

This guide contains information on citation best practices, brief citation guides for both MLA, APA, and ASA styles, sample in-class exercises that address academic honesty, sample research essays in both MLA APA, and ASA formats, and a list of helpful resources for citing sources in both the online and onsite classrooms will also be provided in this guide. To get started, click on one of the tabs above.


Citation FAQ & Video Transcript

Click on the Citation FAQ for a text version of what is on this home page.


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About Citation

In addition to the video on citation, you can also review similar information in the text below the video. A transcript of the video is also included in the box "Citation FAQ & Video Transcript" in PDF format.


What does citation mean?

Citation is where you show your readers that the information you used in your paper is from another source. When you cite you are giving credit to the original author. Citation also shows your readers how they can locate the sources that you've used in your work, including:

  • the author
  • title of the text or article
  • publisher of the work
  • dates the source material was published
  • website or database where the material was found
  • page numbers
  • references to other researchers or research

 Information adapted from


Why should I cite?

You need to cite your sources in order to give credit to the original author. By citing your sources you are avoiding plagiarism or the possibility of being accused of academic dishonesty. However, there are more reasons why you should cite your sources. suggests that citing your sources also:

  • allows readers to locate more information on your ideas
  • shows the extent of your research
  • displays the integration of another's research into your own work
  • provides opportunities to heighten your argument with direct quotes from experts in a particular field
  • illustrates your depth of understanding regarding a topic

 Information adapted from


When should I cite?

You must acknowledge your sources when you borrow their words or ideas. Always cite your sources when you:

  • Use direct quotes from another author's work
  • Use ideas from another author's work, but in your own words (paraphrasing)
  • Specifically reference another person's work or ideas
  • Borrow a figure, image, or table
  • Borrow an author's ideas

You can provide in-text citation for the above situations using either MLA or APA citation formats. Always check with your professor regarding which citation format you should use.

Information adapted from


Are there instances when I don't have to cite?

There are some instances when you do NOT have to cite:

  • Writing your own personal experiences
  • Using your own images, figures or art work
  • Using "common knowledge" such as folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events (but not historical documents)
  • Writing your own results based on findings from your own research
  • Using generally-accepted facts, e.g., overeating is bad for your health

Information adapted from the OWL at Purdue.


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