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While most of your paper should consist of your own thoughts and ideas, it is important to include the research and ideas of others and give them credit for their work. When you do this, you are citing sources. Citing sources helps you because it:
- Demonstrates you have done the necessary research to learn as much as possible about your topic,
- Provides evidence for your arguments,
- Makes your work more credible because you have considered a variety of resources,
- Helps you avoid plagiarism, and
- Allows you (and your audience) to locate the source when conducting further research.
What to Cite
You should cite any idea that is not your own. Always cite when you:
- Use a direct quotation,
- Paraphrase someone else's words or ideas,
- Summarize someone else's words or ideas, or
- Include statistics.
How to Cite
Two common citation styles for academic writing are MLA style and APA style. Using either style, citations are made in two ways: in-text citations (within the body of the paper) and as a list at the end of the paper. In MLA style, this list is called the "Works Cited" page; in APA style, it is called "References." Be sure to check with your instructors regarding which style they want you to use.