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Style Manuals and Citation Methods: General Information

This information in this guide was originally written by Kate Peterson and has been updated and adapted by Leslie Andersen.

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.

How do I paraphrase?

How do I quote or paraphrase or summarize?

  • Quoting refers to using someone's word exactly as they appear in the source. Use quotes (") to identify a direct quote. You must cite the original source.
  • Paraphrasing and summarizing are two methods of putting other's ideas into your own words. Usually you use a signal phrase (i.e. Smith argues..., According to Jones...). You must cite the original source.

More information:
Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources from the University of Wisconsin
Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing from OWL at Purdue
Quotation Marks from OWL at Purdue

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

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is...

  • Copying someone else's words without using quotation marks and citing the source.
  • Restating or summarizing someone else's original or specialized ideas without citing the source.
  • Pretending someone else's work is your own.

CSULB defines plagiarism as "the act of using the ideas or work of another person or persons as if they were one's own, without giving credit to the source." Check out CSULB's Plagiarism Policy and Penalties.