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Cite Sources

Learn how to cite your sources and avoid plagiarism.

Introduction to Citing Sources

A citation identifies an information source you have used in writing your paper. You can cite books, articles, videos, speeches, Twitter threads, YouTube videos, and more. A listing of citations can be called a "bibliography" or "works cited" or simply "references."

Why cite?

Readers may want to know more about the information sources that you used to write your paper, so they need citation (or bibliographic) information, like the name of the author and the title of the source, to find them. In addition, because academic writing involves having a conversation with other people who care about the same issues and topics, citing sources shows your reader whose ideas you are conversing with (engaging and responding to) and which "discourse communities" you are participating in. Citing sources is also important because you should give credit to the person who worked hard to create the information and ideas that you are using in our own writing. Finally, citing sources will help you avoid plagiarism. 

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism occurs when you use someone else's intellectual property without properly crediting them, and it is a serious offense. Always cite your sources whether you quote, paraphrase, or summarize.

To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you use:

  • another person's idea, opinion, or theory
  • any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings--any pieces of information--that are not common knowledge
  • quotations or paraphrase of another person's actual spoken or written words

To learn more about plagiarism and how to avoid it, check out:

Citation Software

Finding Citations in Library Databases