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Cite Sources Properly

Footnotes and bibliographic citations credit the author and enable the reader to locate source material. As you compile and cite references, be sure to observe a consistent style -- that is, don't mix APA-style citations with MLA-style references.

Complete citations to online or electronic resources are also required in the same manner as for printed sources.

Be sure to check your syllabus or ask your professor which style guide is appropriate and/or required for your paper.

Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s ideas, concepts, words, images, music, etc. as if they were your own, without giving proper credit; it is intellectual theft. When you approach writing your paper with the notion that you want to avoid plagiarism, you are not only doing the right thing, but you are also engaged in the intellectual work that is required when you describe, analyze, synthesize, and draw new conclusions about your topic. When you work to avoid plagiarism you work to set your own ideas upon, next to, or in opposition to, those scholars whose work came before yours.

Avoid plagiarism by citing:

  • direct quotations
  • ideas from texts that you have paraphrased
  • images you acquired from someone else, downloaded from the Internet, or otherwise are not your own
  • conversations, personal correspondence, interviews
  • anything else that is not your own

You do not have to cite commonly accepted facts. One rule of thumb for commonly accepted facts are those that can be found in five reference sources. It is often difficult to know what commonly accepted facts are, so when in doubt, it is best to provide a citation for them.

View a handout (pdf) with more information on avoiding plagiarism.