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Citing Your Sources: Citing Basics

Links to citation style guide information and tutorials.

Research Skills Tutorial - Citing Sources

Is this tutorial a requirement for your course? Be sure to take the quiz at the end.

Understanding Citing

When we use another person's idea in our research, we must include a brief notation next to that idea to let our readers know who developed it. This brief notation is called an in-text citation. At the end of our work, we include a fuller notation, which provides details that allow others to identify and locate the source in which we found that idea. This fuller notation is referred to as an end-of-paper citation.

Which details must be included within these in-text and end-of-paper citations, and how each is formatted, depends on the citation style we have been asked to use. For example, in both APA style and MLA style, the in-text citation typically goes inside a set of parentheses. In both Chicago style and CSE style, in-text citations are typically indicated with superscript numerals that refer to footnotes (bottom of page) or endnotes (end of chapter).

In all four of these styles, the end-of-paper citations are listed on the last (usually separate) page of the paper. In both APA style and Chicago style, that page is titled "References." In MLA style, that page is titled, "Works Cited." And, in CSE style, that page is titled "Cited References."

Each citation style has different rules about how in-text and end-of paper citations for various source types (books, articles, web pages, videos) and situations (online, print, no author, multiple authors) must be constructed (what is included, and in what order) and formatted (punctuation, italics, capitalization).

There are thousands of citations styles, but APA, MLA, CSE and Chicago are the four most commonly used in college research writing. Each style also has formatting rules for the paper itself, including title page rules, font size, section headers and so on. You will find details about the rules of a particular style in the style guides located at the tab (above) for that style.

You do not have to cite your own ideas, unless they have been published. And you do not have to cite common knowledge, or information that most people in your audience would know without having to look it up.


Tutorials on Citing & Plagiarism

Annotated Bibliographies

An annotated bibliography can often be a first step in a comprehensive, research writing assignment. Annotated bibliographies are bibliographies (organized and properly-formatted lists of citations on a specific topic) where each citation includes a notation (typically a paragraph) explaining why you chose to include that source.

Assignment Calculator

Enter a due date for your research writing assignment (research paper, annotated bibliography, literature review) and receive a timeline for completing it.  

The assignment calculator will generate a list of steps in the process, and provide links to instruction and resources relevant to each step.

Subject Guide

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Please note: If you need to request accommodations with content linked to on this guide, on the basis of a disability, please contact Disability Services by emailing them at  Requests for accommodations should be submitted as early as possible to allow for sufficient planning. If you have questions, please visit the disability services website

Get Writing Help

The librarians are here to help you with your research, but for assistance with the writing process itself, please visit the college's Online Writing Center, where you can find online writing tutors, onsite writing tutors, online and in-person workshops, and self-help resources.