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Cite Your Sources: What are Citations?

This guide has citation information, including citation styles and citation managers.

Basic Citation Information

A citation identifies a book, periodical article, or other information resource. A citation will include the basic pieces of information necessary to allow you to find the article. That same information is used to create the list of references, or bibliography you will put in your research paper. Your instructor can then use the citations in the bibliography of your paper to identify and locate those same articles.

A single citation is sometimes called a "reference." A list of citations is generally known as a "bibliography," although sometimes the list is called simply a "works cited" page or "list of references."

When you place citations in your research paper, they must be written in a correct format by following the style manual of a particular discipline. Citation styles you may be required to use are: 

  1. APA (American Psychological Association)
  2. MLA (Modern Language Association)
  3. Chicago 

Citation Elements

The following are basic elements of a citation. Depending on the citation style, you may also include a URL or DOI if the resource you are citing is electronic. 

Citation elements for a book:

  • Author (Ernest Hemmingway)
  • Title (The Sun Also Rises)
  • Place of Publication (New York)
  • Publisher (Scribner)
  • Date Published (1932)

Citation elements for a journal article:

  • Author (Carolyn A. Durham)
  • Title of the Article (Modernism and Mystery: The Curious Case of the Lost Generation)
  • Title of the Periodical/Journal (Twentieth Century Literature)
  • Volume and Issue Number (Volume 19, Issue 1)
  • Pages (82-103)
  • Date (2003)

Why is it important to cite the work of others?

Scholarship is a conversation—always growing and changing! When you cite the works of others you show that you have explored the current research on an issue and you are adding your informed voice to the conversation.

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