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Format & Cite

Learn to format your paper and cite your sources in MLA, APA, Chicago, and other styles.

Tips for Citing Sources

It's important to make sure you collect all the information you need to cite a source as you gather your information so that you won't need to look it up again, so:

  • Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas
  • Write down the complete citation information for each book, article, etc. you use as you go along
  • Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words
  • Always credit original authors for their information and ideas

Citing Sources Matters

When you write a research paper, you use information and facts from a variety of resources to support your own ideas or to help you develop new ones. Books, articles, videos, interviews, and Web sites are some examples of sources you might use.

Citing these sources of information in your work is essential because:

  • It gives credit to the author of the original work who provided you with the information or idea
  • It allows your audience to identify and find the source material in order to learn more about your topic
  • It gives your paper more credibility because it shows you're supporting your arguments with high-quality source. It also helps earn your readers' trust because you're telling your readers the source of your facts so that they can confirm them for themselves
  • It helps you avoid plagiarism

This three-min. video from The Harness Library illustrates why it's important for you to cite your sources. Watch, Learn, and Enjoy!

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What Do You Cite?

Cite all outside sources you use in your research paper! Citing is required for sources you:

Quote word-for-word,

Paraphrase (rewrite using your own words), and

Summarize (rewrite the main concept or idea in your own words).

 

Keep Track of Information About Your Sources

As you explore your topic, you'll discover and read information from many different sources. With each new source, you'll need to decide if you want to use it. To help you make this decision, you'll ask yourself questions about the source like:

Who is the author of this source?

What is the title of the source?

How was the source published?

Where did I find this source?

When was the source published?

Each of these elements (author, title, publisher, location, publication date) will become part of your citation. As you work, you'll want to keep track of each of these elements so that creating your citations will be easier.

How Citation Style Affects Your Paper

How citing your sources affects your paper