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Library Research Process: Citing Sources

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Getting Started

When presenting arguments in a research paper, you will often draw on previous work by other authors. When you do so, it is essential to cite those sources. Citing sources not only gives those authors proper credit for their ideas, but it also lets your readers know where to go for more information and adds credibility to your arguments.

You can cite almost anything in your paper that meets your instructor's source requirements, though most often you will probably cite journal articles, books, or websites. The key parts of any citation are the author, title of the work, and publication information. Additional information will vary depending on what you cite. Here is a typical citation for a journal article:

Journal article citation

Once you understand how to read and interpret a citation, you may want to move to more advanced tools to help you cite your work. EasyBib help you collect, organize, and cite your sources as you work on a research project.

Tips & Tricks

  • Even if you do not directly quote a source, you still must cite it. Paraphrasing another's idea requires you to acknowledge the author.
  • If you do directly quote a source, use quotation marks to show you are using another's exact words.
  • When taking notes from your sources, be sure to capture all of the required information to cite the source completely. Take a look at style guides ahead of time to know what is expected.
  • Follow the citation style your teacher requires. If your teacher doesn't specify a particular style, use one appropriate to the subject area. Generally, these will be:
    • Arts & Humanities = MLA or Chicago
    • Social Sciences = APA
    • Sciences = CSE
  • Create an account for EasyBib to help store and manage your citations as you research. EasyBib will also generate your bibliography for you in the format you specify, as well as, help with note cards, outlines, and the paper.

Citation Style Manuals

Most libraries keep these books in the reference collection or even at the reference desk so students can access them easily. The print copies are the "official" guidelines for citing in your paper, though many websites are available to help with basic types of sources. Some of the best ones include:

For More Help...

A librarian can help you locate citation manuals online and in print.