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Citation Help: Home

This guide will help you understand why citations are important, what information should be cited, and give you resources for creating citations.

What is a citation?

A citation is basic bibliographic information about a source organized in a specific format. Citations contain the title, author, publishing information, and access information in the case of electronic sources. 

The way that a citation is organized is determined by a citation style.  Citation styles are usually defined by professional organizations and are specific to academic disciplines.  Your professor may require you to use a particular style. Commonly used citation styles are APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and CMS (Chicago Manual of Style).

Why cite?

Citing your sources is an important and required part of any collegiate research and writing.  Citations are a way to acknowledge your source and provide necessary information about the resources used in your research.  But why?

To Give Credit
Standard practice requires giving credit to the author of the original words, ideas or research to show honor and respect for their work and their legal rights.

To Avoid Plagiarism
Citing your source ensures that you are not taking credit for the work of another.

To Maintain the Accuracy and Credibility of Your Work
Citations establish that your data and facts are correct and allows the reader to check the source for themselves.

To Allow Readers to Trace and/or Expand On Your Research
Citations provide a trail to the original research or idea and facilitate additional study and research.

What do I cite?

  • Direct quotations
  • A paraphrase or summary of another's words or ideas
  • A chart, diagram, illustration, or image created by another
  • Information, images, audio, video, or other media found on a website

Common knowledge, such as generally known dates, facts, myths, historical events, common sense, or common expressions do NOT need to be cited.

When in doubt, cite your source!

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of using someone else words, ideas, or other original materials without acknowledging its source.

Plagiarism occurs when:

  • another's words are quoted without citing the source
  • someone else's thoughts or ideas, either in print, on the internet, or spoken have been copied into your paper without the source being cited
  • the summary or paraphrasing of another's thoughts or ideas is too closely related to the original language or syntax
  • text created by another student is turned in as your own
  • citations are falsely created

If you're concerned about whether or not you might be plagiarizing in your work, meet with a librarian to review the material. 

Citation Managers Comparison

Website Resources

Citations created for you!

Citations can be automatically generated for resources located through a Discovery search or from within many of the Library's databases.

In Discovery Search

  • From your results list click the "save this item" icon
  • Open the Saved Items folder
  • Choose citation format
  • Email, print, or export to a citation manager like Mendeley or Zotero

Remember to double check computer generated citations for accuracy. 

In EBSCO databases

  • From the Tools menu on the right select "Cite"
  • Scroll through the list and choose format style
  • Copy and paste citation into your document

Similar citation generators can be found in most of our other electronic databases.  See one of the Librarians if you need help.
Remember to double check computer generated citations for accuracy. 

We're here to help

Beth Miller's picture
Beth Miller
Washington & Jefferson College
U. Grant Miller Library
60 S. Lincoln Ave.
Washington, PA 15301