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Citation Style Guide: What is citation?


What is citation? Citation is how you tell your readers that information in your writing came from other sources—and how they can find it.

Why do you need to cite sources?

  • To give credit to the authors of the source of your information.
  • To enable readers locate the source -- either to verify your information or to find out more about it.
  • To help readers distinguish your own thoughts and claims from those of your sources.
  • To make your writing more convincing by showing that your information comes from a source.
  • To help you get a good grade on a paper—or, in the real world, to protect you from being sued or damaging your reputation.


When do you need to cite?

  • When you use words, thoughts, ideas, or information that were produced by someone other than yourself.
  • When you quote someone directly (using quotation marks).
  • When you paraphrase (change someone else's words but keeping their meaning).
  • When you use or reference an idea or thought that has already been expressed.
  • When you make any reference to another source.
  • When another’s ideas, words or thoughts have influenced your writing and research.

This fun video explains why you need to cite.