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How to Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

What is a citation?
How do I cite a source? What should go into a citation
What is a "style manual"?
How can I manage all of my citations and make sure I don't lost something important

Rule of Thumb: When you wish to include other author's words, or summarize or paraphrase information found in books, articles or Web pages, you must acknowledge or cite the original author.

What is a "citation"?

"Citing a source" is the process of giving credit to the sources you used to write your paper, speech, or other project. "Citations" - or the actual listing and description of your sources - can be located in the text or at the end of the work in a bibliography.

(Not sure if you need to cite a source? Check out the section on Plagiarism: What It Is and How To Avoid It.

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How do I cite a source? What should go into a citation?

The details of how you cite a particular source is referred to as a "style", which is described in a "style manual." The four most commonly used style manuals are listed below. Most bibliographic citations will include at least the author’s name, the title of the work being cited, where and when that work was published, and who published it. Here is an example of a book citation in the Chicago-Humanities style.

Example Diagram of Book Citation

However, other citations can be more complex. Citing journal articles generally requires the researcher to include volume numbers, issue numbers, and page numbers in addition the above information.

Example Diagram of Journal Citation

Website citations typically also include the URL and date on which you access the information.

Ashmead, H.G. 1884. History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
          Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co. The Online Books Page.
          < > (10 August 2004)

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What is a "style manual"?

A "style manual" lays out rules and guidelines for how to cite certain types of sources. Below are listed the style manuals most commonly used by professors. CHECK with your INSTRUCTOR about which style manual to use for your project.

MLA - Modern Language Association

APA - American Psychological Association

Chicago Manual of Style

CBE - Council of Biology Editors


Need more information about preferred style for your major? The Ottenheimer Library has a website with special style manuals.

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How can I manage all of my citations and make sure I don't lose something important?

Check out RefWorks. RefWorks is a web-based bibliography and citation manager that allows users to create a personal database by importing citations from text files or online databases. You can use these references in writing your papers and automatically format the paper and bibliography in seconds.

This free online service is provided by the Ottenheimer Library. For more information on how it works, check out the guide on your Library website. (

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Need more information? Visit Guidelines for Using Materials or More Resources under Information for Faculty and Staff for more details.


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Remember that copyright is an area where there is still much ambiguity. Future legislation and court decisions will continue to shape copyright law. Information provided on this website should not be construed as legal advice.