A student writing. When using someone else's work, whether written, musical, artistic, or material, a citation must be given to indicate the sources used. A citation is a notation, either in footnotes, endnotes, or in the text of your work, that identifies:
  • Whom you quoted or who created the ideas that you paraphrased
  • Which book or article or other source you found the material in
  • Where, precisely, the material you used can be found in that source

Works that need citations include:

  • Someone else's idea, theory or opinion
  • Music drawings, designs, dance, photography and other artistic or technical work created by someone else
  • Reproductions of tables, graphs or any other graphic element produced by someone else
  • Facts and information that are not generally known
  • An unusual or distinctive phrase, a specialized term, a computer code, quantitative data
  • A paraphrase or summary of someone else's spoken or written words
  • Contributions of ideas by others with whom you have collaborated.

There are numerous citation styles used to cite sources, such as MLA, APA, Chicago, etc. In all of them, the basic purpose is simple: provide enough information to readers to enable them to locate the source you used and the material you incorporated.

When searching for reference materials, make sure to record the following information for use in preparing citations and your reference list

  • author's name
  • title of the work (book, article, painting, etc.)
  • publication information (title of the journal, publisher, & publicaton date)
  • page number(s) of the passage you used
  • URL or Web address if using Web sites
  • date visited if using a Web site
  • place of publication

Your instructor will tell you which citation style to use in your assignments. The Library has copies of all the common citation style manuals.

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