What is a citation?
A citation is a record of where you encountered a certain idea. If you read an article for and want to incorporate the ideas that article presents into a piece of coursework for one of your classes, you need to document the fact that you are borrowing an idea from someone else.
Whenever you cite an idea in the text of a paper you are working on, you note it in the text. This will be done with either a footnote or in parentheses, depending upon which style you use.
You also generate an alphabetical list of all the works you cite in your paper. When you are finished writing, this list goes at the end of your paper.
Citing your sources helps other scholars track down resources they find of interest. Proper citation helps us all build on our knowledge.
Citing the source of the idea also allows you to avoid plagiarizing someone else's work. If you directly quote or paraphrase an idea from someone else, you must give credit to that person or source through a citation -- anything less is plagiarism. (See the "Avoiding plagiarism" box below for more information).
Which style should I use?
Talk to your professor to see which citation style (MLA, APA, Turabian, etc.) you should use for each assignment.
Once you find out, click one of the tabs above for the basics of that style. The full style guides are held on the second floor of the library in the ready reference area under the following call numbers:
MLA: Modern Languages Association (Ref. PN 147 G444 1998)
APA: American Psychological Association (Ref. BF 76.7 .P83 2001)
Also see the APA Style Guide to Electronic References (Ref. BF 76.7 .P83 2001)
Chicago: The Chicago Manual of Style (Ref. Z253 .U69 2003)
Also see Turabian, Kate. A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations: Chicago style for
students and researchers. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Ref. LB2369 .T8 2007)
APSA: American Political Science Association (Ref. JA86 .A52 2001)
Additional style guides: see the additional style guides tab above for further styles, such as AAA, IEEE, and more. Dianna Hacker has also put together the following List of Style Manuals.
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