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Citing Your Sources

A guide to using citation styles effectively and efficiently

Citation Basics

When a professor requires you to cite your sources for a research assignment using APA, MLA, or Chicago/Turabian, you may have questions about what that really means. Citing or referencing your sources is a standardized way to inform your readers that specific information in your work is from an outside source so that the reader can find that source again.

A citation should include general information such as:

  • the author of the source
  • the title of the work
  • the name and location of the publisher
  • the date the source was published
  • the page numbers of the material you are borrowing

A citation is required:

Each of these instances requires an in-text citation.

You don't have to cite:

  • Statements of your own insight
  • Statements of common knowledge
    • Common knowledge is information most educated people know or can find out easily in an encyclopedia or dictionary.

When in doubt, be safe and cite your source!

A complete citation or reference is made up of two parts:

  • a brief citation within the body of your work, also known as an in-text citation, and
  • a corresponding full reference at the end of the work, chapter, or page

Include an in-text citation when you refer to facts, summarize, paraphrase, or quote from another source.

An in-text citation is one half of a complete citation. It is the brief form of the reference that you include in the body of your work that gives enough information to uniquely identify the source in your reference list. For every in-text citation in your paper, there must be a corresponding entry in your reference list to make a complete citation.

The format of both the in-text citation and full reference entry depends on the citation style your professor asked you to use. See Popular Citation Styles used at Midlands Technical College.

It is important for writers to cite sources:

  • to prevent plagiarism and uphold academic integrity
  • to recognize the work of others
  • to provide authority to your work and to position your work in context
  • to help future researchers and yourself easily locate sources

A Brief Introduction to Citation

What is Plagiarism?

When you neglect to recognize the work of others and do not appropriately cite your sources, plagiarism can occur.

Plagiarism is defined by The Student Code for Midlands Technical College in this way:

"'Plagiarism' is defined as the appropriation of any other person’s work and the unacknowledged incorporation of that work in one’s own work." -p. 61 of the MTC Student Handbook

Plagiarism may be:

  • Deliberate (intentionally presenting someone else’s work as your own)
  • Accidental (wrongly or unsatisfactorily citing ideas and words from a source)

Check out MTC Library's Preventing Plagiarism Tutorial if you are interested in learning more about avoiding plagiarism in your work.

Check Your Knowledge

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