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Style Manuals and Citation Methods: General Information

How do I cite correctly?

Most styles have an official manual that can give you the most complete information. There are many great web sites that can help you with citing.

1.) Pick a citation style (i.e. APA, MLA). Ask your professor which style they prefer if you are unsure.
2.) When you quote, paraphrase or summarize someone else's work you need to tell the reader the source you are using. Two common methods to do with are in-text citations/parenthetical citations and footnotes/endnotes.
3.) Give the complete citation at the end of your paper in the bibliography or works cited page.

Direct Quotes, Summaries & Paraphrases

YOU SHOULD CITE WHEN:

  • Referring to a source and stating someone else's opinions, thoughts, ideas, or research
  • Using an image or media file that you did not create

When in doubt, cite it


WHEN REFERRING TO A SOURCE, YOU HAVE THREE OPTIONS FOR USING IT:

Handwritten text that starts with a quotation mark and ends with a parenthetical citation.

  1. Directly Quoting 
  2. Summarizing 
  3. Paraphrase 

"Which option you should choose depends on how much of a source you are using, how you are using it, and what kind of paper you are writing, since different fields use sources in different ways." Grounds for Argument. When to Quote, Paraphrase, or Summarize a Source. Used under CC BY NC SA

Image:  Random quote by Gabriel Jones. Used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


YOU DO NOT NEED TO CITE:

  • Your thoughts and your interpretations
  • Common knowledge​

WHAT IS A DIRECT QUOTATION:  

"Must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author."  Purdue University Online Writing Lab. (2012). Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

USE IT:

  • If summarizing or paraphrasing cannot capture the essence or meaning of the text 
  • To retain a specific or unique phrasing used by the source's author
  • If you are analyzing the text itself (often in English or language classes)

BE ADVISED:

Most of the time when you cite a source, you want to summarize or paraphrase. Direct quotations should be used sparingly when the situation meets the criteria above. When you do use direct quotations:

  • Do not take the quote out of context. The author's meaning should not change.
  • Be sure to integrate multiple sources within your text. You don't want to have a paper or a passage that seems to have come only from one source, with little original text from you.
  • Use transitions to make sure your quote adds to your paper without interrupting its flow.

HOW TO CITE A DIRECT QUOTATION:  

  • Place quotation marks around the entire word-for-word passage, whether it's a phrase or a sentence.
  • Attribute with an in-text citation; most citation styles request that you provide a page or paragraph number when directly citing.  
  • If your quotation is longer, check with your citation style guide to see if additional formatting is necessary (block quotations, for example).  

WHAT IS A SUMMARY:  

"Involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s).... Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material."  Purdue University Online Writing Lab. (2012). Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

"Similar to paraphrasing, summarizing involves using your own words and writing style to express another author's ideas. Unlike the paraphrase, which presents important details, the summary presents only the most important ideas of the passage." University of Houston-Victoria Student Success Center (n.d.). Decide when to Quote, Paraphrase & Summarize.

USE IT:

  • To provide necessary background information for your audience
  • When broad, concise information will suffice 

HOW TO CITE A SUMMARY:  

  • Attribute with an in-text citation; some citation styles request that you provide a page or paragragh number whenever available.
  • You should not be using any word-for-word quotations or language unique to the source, so you do NOT need quotation marks around your summary.

WHAT IS A PARAPHRASE:  

"A paraphrase is a detailed restatement in your own words of a written or sometimes spoken source material. Apart from the changes in organization, wording, and sentence structure, the paraphrase should be nearly identical in meaning to the original passage. It should also be near the same length as the original passage and present the details of the original." University of Houston-Victoria Student Success Center (n.d.). Decide when to Quote, Paraphrase & Summarize.

Paraphrasing is "your own rendition of essential information and ideas expressed by someone else, presented in a new form." Purdue University Online Writing Lab. (2012). Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

When paraphrasing, you must change both the sentence structure and the language of the original text

USE IT:

  • "When the wording is less important than the meaning of the source" University of Houston-Victoria Student Success Center (n.d.). Decide when to Quote, Paraphrase & Summarize.
  • If a summary would not provide enough specific details

HOW TO CITE A PARAPHRASE:  

  • Attribute with an in-text citation; some citation styles request that you provide a page or paragragh number whenever available.
  • When paraphrasing, you must change both the sentence structure and language of the original text.  Therefore, since you will be changing the text, you do NOT need quotation marks around your paraphrase.

COMMON KNOWLEDGE:

It doesn't necessarily mean that most people would know it offhand. And sometimes it's a judgment call because what seems like common knowledge to one person isn't to another. Here are good rules of thumb:

  • If you can find the same information in multiple places, stated in relatively the same way, it's common knowledge (Generally, it is said that you should find the information three to five sources)
  • If most people are aware of this fact, or if it's general reference, it's common knowledge

CAUTION:  Opinions and unique terminology/phrasing do not qualify as common knowledge.

When in doubt, cite

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Why do I have to cite?

Whenever you quote, summarize, paraphrase or refer to the work of another person you need to cite it. Citing is the way to give credit to other's work when you use it in your papers, speeches and projects. Citing other's work is a very important step in the academic writing process and the best way to avoid plagiarism.

Tip: You do not have to cite anything that is considered common knowledge such as dates of events, well known facts, etc.

What types of things do I need to cite?

You need to cite other's words or ideas whenever you use them in your paper (i.e. direct quotes, summaries). This may include:

  • journal articles, newspaper articles or magazine articles
  • books or book chapters
  • web sites and web pages
  • encyclopedias
  • government documents
  • emails, interviews or speeches
  • all ideas or words in any format that are not your own