Common citation questions
- What citation style should I use?
- How do I cite a source in my paper?
- When do I need to include a citation?
- How do I make a Reference list, Bibliography, or Works Cite? How do I know which one to use?
- How do I cite an article, book, website, or other source? What information do I need to include in a reference entry?
- How do I format my paper?
- How do I avoid plagiarism?
- Should I use citation generators?
1. What citation style should I use?
Each discipline follows different rules for citation. Start with Find Documentation Style by Discipline. Remember to refer to your syllabus and assignment instructions for particular course requirements for citation.
2. How do I cite a source in my paper?
In-text citations differ based on citation style. See the details for the four major styles:
3. When do I need to include a citation?
- Cite all paraphrases or summaries of ideas or information that are not your own.
- Cite all direct quotations of two or more consecutive words. In fact, a single distinctive term taken from a source should be placed in quotation marks and cited.
- Cite all sources that inform your work, including data, charts, films, maps, graphs, web pages, photographs, television news reports, lectures, and video/audio files.
4. How do I make a Reference list, Bibliography, or Works Cited list? How do I know which one to use?
Each citation style has slightly different requirements of the reference list, and they have different titles, too. See the details for the four major styles:
5. How do I cite an article, book, website, or other source? What information do I need to include in a reference entry?
The information in a reference entry is important; it allows the reader to retrieve the source. However, different types of sources provide different information.
It is your goal to offer a complete reference entry, so all styles require information about the author (an individual, group, or agency), the title (article, journal, book, website, video, etc.), the year of publication and other relevant retrieval information. In this guide, the Reference by
Source sections for each major style provide clear instructions for in-text and reference entries for print and electronic sources, ranging from books, journal articles, and websites to government documents, blog posts, and video files.
See the details for the four major styles:
6. How do I format my paper?
Most styles adhere to standard 1” (2.54 cm) margins, a simple font (like Times New Roman) in 12 point, double-spaced with indented paragraphs, and pagination in the upper right corner.
Formatting guidelines and sample papers are available for the four major styles:
7. How do I avoid plagiarism?
8. Should I use citation generators?
Citation generators, like those available in Microsoft Word or in article databases such as ProQuest or Scholar’s Portal, are helpful tools; however, much like spell checkers, their capacities are limited. It is important to check any citations you download from a citation generator to ensure they follow the style’s conventions for punctuation, capitalization and to ensure the required elements are all present and in the correct order.