When doing research and writing for your college courses, you will be expected to cite your sources. To learn more about citing sources visit our Citing Sources Guide.
A citation is a reference to a published source. In other words, in your paper, you are acknowledging that you found this information published somewhere, by someone.
Citing your sources is important for three reasons:
1. It gives credit to the person whose idea it is you are referencing
2. It leads readers to your sources
3. It helps you avoid plagiarism.
When you find information in another source, whether it is a newspaper, magazine, academic journal, or from an online resource, someone else has published it, which means that essentially that person "owns" the information and the ideas (intellectual property). Not giving that person credit when you borrow their ideas or words is called plagiarism, and that is a very serious academic infraction. For more information, see the tab about plagiarism.
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association describes the rules used to write papers following APA style. This style is used in psychology, sociology, business, economics, nursing, social work, and criminology. Information about using APA style can be found in the following places:
Modern Language Association documentation guidelines are often used in the humanities fields, including English, comparative literature, literary criticism, and foreign-languages.
"The eighth edition of the MLA Handbook, published in 2016, rethinks documentation for an era of digital publication. The MLA now recommends a universal set of guidelines that writers can apply to any source and gives writers in all fields—from the sciences to the humanities—the tools to intuitively document sources."
Information about using MLA style can be found in the following places:
Chicago style is a documentation style used in history and other humanities fields and uses footnotes or endnotes. Information about using Chicago style can be found in the following places: