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Citing Sources

Everything about citing sources

Why citing is important

It's important to cite sources you used in your research for several reasons:

  • To show your reader you've done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information
  • To be a responsible writer and researcher by giving credit to other researchers and acknowledging their ideas
  • To avoid plagiarism by quoting words and ideas used by other authors
  • To allow your reader to track down the sources you used by citing them accurately in your paper by way a bibliography or reference list

What to cite

You must cite:

  • Facts, figures, ideas, or other information that is not common knowledge

  • Ideas, words, theories, or exact language that another person used in other publications

  • Publications that must be cited include:  books, book chapters, articles, web pages, theses, etc.

    Another person's exact words should be quoted and cited to show proper credit 


When in doubt, be safe and cite your source!

Citation elements

Citing a source means that you show, within the body of your text, that you took words, ideas, figures, images, etc. from another place.

Citations are a short way to uniquely identify a published work (e.g. book, article, chapter, web site).  They are found in bibliographies and reference lists and are also collected in article and book databases. 

Citations consist of standard elements, and contain all the information necessary to identify and track down publications, including:

  • author name(s)
  • titles and/or containers (MLA)
  • date of publication
  • page numbers
  • volume and issue numbers (for articles)
  • DOI (APA and now encouraged by MLA)

Citations may look different, depending on what is being cited and which style was used to create them. Choose an appropriate style guide for your needs.  Here is an example of an article citation using the two different citation styles supported by the UHMC Library.  Notice the common elements as mentioned above:

Author - William D. Nordhaus

Article Title - Global Warming Economics

Source Title / Container 1 - Science

Volume and Issue - volume 294, number 5545

Publication Date - 2001

Page numbers - 1283 - 84

DOI - 10.1126/science.1065007

Database / Subscription Service / Container 2 - EBSCOhost


Modern Language Association (MLA) style (8th edition, 2016 changes):​

MLA citation sample

MLA in-text (or parenthetical) citations follows an Author-Page Number style. Purdue Owl Writing Lab has a good tutorial on MLA in-text citation basic.  


American Psychological Association (APA) style:​

APA in-text citations follow an Author-Date style. Purdue Owl Writing Lab Here is a good tutorial on APA in-text citation basics. ​


Remember: It is recommended to format your citations using Times New Roman in size 12 font

Avoiding plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when you borrow another's words (or ideas) and do not acknowledge that you have done so. Our words and ideas are considered intellectual property; like a car or any other possession, our words belong to us and should not be used without our permission.

Plagiarism is a serious offense. If it is found that you have plagiarized -- deliberately or inadvertently -- you may face serious consequences. In some instances, plagiarism has meant that students have failed classes or have had to leave the institutions where they were studying.

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources - both within the body of your paper and in a bibliography of sources you used at the end of your paper.

Some useful links about plagiarism and how to avoid it:

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