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Citing Sources: Citing Sources

Learn about plagiarism, copyright, fair use, and how to cite sources using APA and MLA citation formats.

Why do I need to Cite?

There are many reasons why you must cite your sources when conducting research. The major reasons you must use citations are:

  • to avoid plagiarism
  • to show evidence of your research
  • to show support for your arguments
  • to give credit to the original creators
  • so readers can find the works you consulted and learn more about the topic


Citation for Beginners

Citation Help

A citation entry generally has four parts:

  • Author: Who is responsible for this work?
  • Date: When was this work published?
  • Title: What is this work called?
  • Source: Where can I retrieve this work?

There are many websites you can go to in order to learn how to cite sources. Here is are a few places you can go to for help.

What Do I Need to Cite a Source?

You must cite your sources whenever you use anything that originated from someone or someplace else. This includes:

  • use another person's idea, opinion, work, or theory
  • any fact, statistic, graph, or chart that is not common knowledge
  • quote, paraphrase, or summarize another person's actual spoken or written words
  • use any image or illustration created by someone else
  • any piece of music written by someone else
  • any interview conducted with another person
  • reuse, including re-posting, any electronic media (web page, audio, images, video, etc.)

You do not need to cite "common knowledge". (i.e. George Washington was the first president of the United States.)

How do I quote, paraphrase, and summarize correctly?

What is Paraphrasing?

When paraphrasing, only a small piece from an author's work is paraphrased. (i.e. only paraphrase two paragraphs from a five page article)

What is Summarizing?

A summary is a broad overview of an author's work and is considerably shorter than the original. A proper summary includes:

  • identify and restate the main points of the author(s) in your own words
  • do not add your opinions, interpretations, or thoughts to the summary
  • the summary should not change the meaning of the original source
  • cite the source

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