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Citing Sources  

Last Updated: May 17, 2014 URL: http://lib.guides.umbc.edu/citing Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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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

 Consult the appropriate Citation Style for more details.


KnightCite is an online citation generator service provided by the Hekman Library of Calvin College. It uses the 7th ed. of MLA, 6th ed. of APA, and 16th ed. of Chicago (7th ed. Turabian)


Why should I cite?

There are three main reasons for citing your sources.

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

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

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


When should I cite?

You should provide a citation whenever your writing is based on someone else's work, especially when you:

  • Quote - use phrases or sentences exactly as they appear in the source document.
    "The accuracy of quotations in research writing is extremely important" (Gibaldi 2003, 109).

  • Paraphrase - restate an idea from the source document using your own words.
    Gibaldi emphasizes the importance of accuracy when quoting other works (109).

  • Summarize - briefly restate the main ideas from the source document.
    Quotations can add emphasis to your research paper, but must be reproduced exactly as originally written (Gibaldi 109).

Source: Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003.

See also: Quoting & Paraphrasing Sources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center


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 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.


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.


What should I cite?

Your citation should be detailed enough to allow a reader to find the source document. Citation styles can vary - consult the appropriate Citation Style for more details. 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.)

  • Host library

  • Date viewed

  • URL (web address)

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


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