Skip to main content
UMBC: an Honors University in Maryland

Citing Sources

Why should I cite?

There are three main reasons to cite your sources.

1. Avoid plagiarism - Using someone else's words or ideas and presenting them as your own is plagiarism.

2. Provide authority - Show support for statements in your text.

3. Locate sources - Allow others to find the source materials you used.

More Resources: Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)Avoiding Plagiarism and You Quote It, You Note It!

When should I cite?

You should provide a citation whenever your writing is based on someone else's work or ideas.
Provide a citation when you:

  • Quote - use phrases or sentences exactly as they appear in the source document.

  • Paraphrase - restate an idea from the source document using your own words.

  • Summarize - briefly restate the main ideas from the source document.

See also: Quoting & Paraphrasing Sources

What should I cite?

Your citation should be detailed enough to allow a reader to find the source document. Citation styles can vary. For more information, consult the appropriate citation style from the menu at the top of the page. In general, a citation should include the following information:

  • Author(s)

  • Title (book, article, chapter, etc.)

  • Source title (journal, book, newspaper, etc.)

  • Volume number (and issue number for some journals)

  • Place of publication (for books)

  • Publisher (for books)

  • Publication date (last revised date for electronic resources)

  • Page numbers (print resources)

Citations for electronic sources (web pages, online articles, etc) may require the following additional information:

  • Database (Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, etc.)

  • Database provider (EBSCO, CSA, etc.)

  • Publication medium (Web)

  • Date viewed (day, month, year)

  • URL (web address)

Remember, it is better to include too much information rather than too little.

Take a look at Citing Government Documents for help in creating government document citations.

Where should I cite?

In general you should:

1.  Include a parenthetical note, numbered citation or footnote in the text when quoting, summarizing or paraphrasing someone  else's work.

  • Parenthetical note:
    Parenthetical references vary depending on the citation style you use:
    Citations in APA style include the author and publication date (Author, year).
    MLA citations include page numbers, but no date (Author pages).

  • Numbered citation:
    Some citation styles require you to number citations.
    Numbered citations may be in parentheses(1), superscript2, or italics3.

  • Footnotes:
    Footnotes are generally indicated by superscript numbers.1
    -------
    1. The note itself is located at the bottom of the same page, separated from the main text by a short horizontal line.

AND

2.  Provide a list of cited works at the end of the paper (bibliography, references, literature cited, etc.)

  • Reference lists for papers using parenthetical notes are listed alphabetically, by author's last name:
    Author A. "Article Title." Source Title. Volume.Issue (Year): Pages.
    Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (year). Title. Place of publication: Publisher.

  • Numbered citations are collected in numerical order:
    1. Author. Book Title, Edition Number; Series Information; Publisher: Place of Publication, Year; Volume Number, pages.
    2. Author. Title of Website. URL (accessed date).

  • Papers using footnotes often include alphabetical bibliographies at the end of the paper:
    Author, A. "Article title." In Encyclopedia Title. Place of publication: Publisher. edition. Year.
    Author, B. "Article Title." Journal Title volume, no. issue (year): page numbers.

How should I cite?

The citation style you use may depend on several factors. A specific style may be:

  • Required by your professor

  • Required by the journal (if you are writing for publication)

  • Commonly used in your discipline

 For more information, consult the appropriate citation style (APA, MLA, etc.) from the menu at the top of the page.