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The two OWLs

Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) is the comprehensive guide to Citations.

The Excelsior OWL is another great source for style rules, citation examples and tutorials. 

Get help!

Use the database Cite tool!

Many Library research databases have a feature that creates citations. Look at the top header (in Gale dbs) or the right menu (in EBSCO) for the Cite function. Choose the citation format you need. Be sure to proofread the citation offered. Ask a librarian for additional help!

Other Citation Generators​

Citation Guide (MLA and APA)

This guide will help you format papers and create citations in MLA or APA format. Use the navigation menu to learn more.

What is a citation?

A citation is the evidence that you have done research. Citations link your reader to the sources that informed your thinking and show that you are participating in a scholarly conversation. Offering a citation gives your readers and other scholars access to your information sources if they wish to follow-up, or find more information on your topic.

Why should I cite my sources?

  • To demonstrate you have considered others' research
  • To direct readers to additional information
  • To establish credibility as a careful researcher
  • To show professional honesty and courtesy
  • To avoid issues with plagiarism

What about common knowledge?  Are those cited?

  • Common knowledge includes facts that are known by a lot of people and can be found in many sources. An example might be the boiling or freezing temperature of water.
  • Common knowledge can vary between subject fields, so think about your audience.
  • If you have doubts about whether something is common knowledge, ask your instructor or another expert in the discipline.
  • When in doubt ... cite!

A few words about plagiarism

Plagiarism is using someone else's words and ideas as your own, without giving credit or attribution.  It can be done intentionally (such as submitting someone else's writing or assignment as your own) or unintentionally (such quoting from another paper without a proper attribution). Either way, it can have serious consequences! figure showing quotation mark symbol

Some examples of plagiarism:

  • submitting a paper or other assignment written by another person or AI generator
  • paying for a paper and submitting it as your own work
  • copying phrases, quotations, and whole ideas from a source without attribution
  • not using quotation marks around phrases used from another source
  • failing to cite sources in your Works Cited or References list
  • failing to cite images or other media used in your paper

You might think that everyone copies from the Internet because many websites appear anonymous. In academic writing, plagiarism is considered a serious offense because it shows disrespect for scholarly communication and principles of academic integrity.

Using other people's ideas to shape your own thinking is an important part of research. Just be sure you paraphrase, write concepts in your own words, and attribute ideas to their author appropriately.

When in doubt, cite!!

Questions about when and how to cite a specific source? Ask a librarian!