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InfoBits: Citing: Why, When & How

What You'll Learn

InfoBits - Build your research skills

  • The importance of citing your sources
  • When to cite
  • Style formats used at YC

Important Terms

Database Cite Feature

Check for a Cite feature in the article databases.  This feature will put the article citation in APA or MLA style format.

  • Look for "Cite" "Citation" or CiteNow!" below the top banner, on the right side of the screen or at the bottom.

Caution: Some databases do a better job than others in providing the citation in the correct format. Double-check the format against the guide your instructor wants you to use.

Save Time

noteKeep track of your resources right from the start. If you don't, it may be challenging to refer back for more information or for citing and creating your bibliography.

For each resource, record the:

  • Article title
  • Publication or book title
  • Database or website name
  • Date, page numbers, etc. 

Why Cite Your Sources?

Citing: Why, When & How. Discover tools available to help you cite.

It is important to cite the sources you use because doing so:

  • Allows your readers to further study the topic in your paper
  • Gives credibility to your research
  • Gives credit to others whose research or ideas you used or quoted
  • Allows readers to check your sources of information
  • Avoids plagiarism

The library has numerous resources to help you cite correctly.

Online Citation Guides

Use these online guides to help you cite correctly.

When Do You Cite?

You must cite your source when:

  • you quote, paraphrase or summarize the ideas or words of another author
  • you use an image, graph, artwork, music or other work that was created by someone else

You don't have to cite your source when:

  • the information is common knowledge
    • information that is known and accepted as fact by the general public
    • e.g., the earth revolves around the sun
  • you're writing about your own experiences, ideas or observations
  • you use your own artwork, music, videos, or other creative works

Always check your course syllabus or with your instructor about the citation style format to use and if there are any additional requirements.

When in Doubt - Cite it!

Whatever you put in your Works Cited or References page must have an in-text citation for the source in the body of your paper.  The two go hand-in-hand.

Print Citation Guides

Citation Game

Sharpen your skills in recognizing types of citations by playing the Tic-Tac-Toe Citation Game from James Madison University.


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