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Why Cite?: sub-module 1 of 4 of how to cite

A citation is a referral to an information source. It is usually provided as a combination of title, author, date and location (e.g. URL or DOI). Citing your sources is the best way to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism can be deliberate - knowingly using someone else's work as your own. It can also be inadvertent. Sometimes plagiarism accusations are simply the result of not following a specific style properly. The specific citation style you are using will dictate the details. See the Build Citations page on this guide for help with a particular style.


5 Ways to Learn to Cite Like a Pro!

  • Know your style!Know the citation style that your instructor wants you to use (e.g. APA, MLA, etc.) Learn more on our Styles page.
  • Get into the habitMake a habit of tracking your sources as you do your research. You need the title, author, publication date, URL, etc. (take notes, take screenshots, bookmark links when you can, etc.)
  • Manage your time When you give yourself lots of time to do your research and writing (or creating your presentation, or whatever the assignment is) you are less likely to plagiarize because you won’t be panicking.
  • Learn the difference between how to use direct quotes and paraphrases.A paraphrase restates information from a source in your own words.   A direct quote is a word for word copy of a phrase, sentence, or paragraph from an information source.  Learn more - Opens in a new window
  • Take advantage of citation generatorsCitation generators create the rough draft of a citation, and then you just need to double check it against a trusted citation guide.Learn more at our page on Citation Tools

Why is Citing Important?

Information has value, whether it is found in books or journals or freely available on the web. People work to create it, and that work should be acknowledged. When you cite your source, you acknowledge the original author/creator of the idea you are using in your research.
Citing your sources allows others to find them and benefit from what you've learned.
Citing other people's work gives authority to your argument/essay/creation.
Accurately citing other people's ideas wherever they occur in your research is the best way to avoid plagiarism.