Common Knowledge

If a fact is generally known and agreed to, it may be regarded as common knowledge.

Facts that are considered "common knowledge" do not have to be cited, such as the fact that the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. Also the fact that Charles Dickens was born on February 7th, 1812 or that most humans are born with ten fingers and ten toes are considered common knowledge.

Nose in a book.

Common knowledge can consist of:

  • Facts that are found in such resources as encyclopedias, textbooks, and standard historical works
  • Facts that are found un-cited in at least four other sources
  • Facts that you knew before you sat down to research your paper or speech

As a general rule, common knowledge does not require in-text citation.

Some facts that may not be common knowledge and need to be cited include: opinions, interpretations, judgments, speculations, theories, claims, and assertions. Also, facts that an author is trying to establish or disprove that are controversial should be cited.

  • Any ideas/concepts/diagrams/images/statistics found in another work, as well as copying small sections of text (direct quotation) require an in-text citation.