Citation Guide

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Citing Sources
Why cite sources?
  • Establish your credibility. As an information consumer, you may be skeptical, especially if information is new or doesn't agree with what you previously knew. Let your own audience know how you got your information and why they should believe you.
  • Help your readers. Citations enable readers to learn more about what you're talking about, and to verify the information you're providing. Citations provide context for your reader. In other words, citations show how your work fits into the larger conversation that experts are having about this topic.
  • Avoid plagiarism. When you cite, you're giving credit where credit is due! Plagiarism (to pass off someone else's work or idea as your own) is dishonest and can have serious consequences (AR 7030-02).
What should be cited?
  • Other people's ideas. If someone has a unique idea, you should give them credit, even if you don't use their exact words. In fact, avoid using too many quotes in your paper! You want it to be your own--not a patchwork of other people's writing. Try paraphrasing unless someone expresses something in a special way you want to capture.
  • Other people's words. For short quotations, put quotation marks around the words. MLA and APA have different formats for citing long (block) quotations. These can be in many formats: books, tweets, podcasts, articles, and websites, etc. 
What should not be cited?
  • Your own experiences and thoughts. The introduction and conclusion of a paper often include more of your own background, commentary, and opinions, so citations may be denser in the middle of your paper.
  • Common knowledge: for example, that the symbol for potassium is K, that World War I ended in 1919, or that the U.S. federal government has three branches. If you're not sure whether or not something is common knowledge, go ahead and cite it anyway.
How do I cite my sources?
  • Ask your instructor what citation style you should use, if they don't indicate this on their syllabus. MLA and APA are the two most common styles at LBCC. You can find more resources about each style in the links on the sidebar. If your instructor asks you to use another style, contact a librarian for help.
  • Try using a citation generator like Zotero Bib (quick video introduction) to create a draft of your works cited or reference list.
Some of the above information was paraphrased from: Valencia College. (2020). MLA, APA, and Chicago guides.

Get Help!
Reference Librarians and Writing Center staff can all help you with citing your sources!
Citation: A (Very) Brief Introduction from NCSU Libraries
Citing in MLA Style: Info & Examples
Get Help!
Reference Librarians and Writing Center staff can all help you with citing your sources!
MLA Style: In-Text Citations (8th Ed., 2016)
MLA Style: List of Works Cited (8th Ed., 2016)
Double-check! APA 6 or 7?
Most of the resources on this page are for the current (7th) edition of APA. Some LBCC instructors may still be using the 6th edition. While the basic concepts are the same, the formatting is quite different! See the three resources right below for information on APA 6th edition:
Citing in APA (7) Style: Info & Examples
Get Help!
Reference Librarians and Writing Center staff can all help you with citing your sources!
Introduction to Citation Styles: APA 7th ed. from CSUDH Library
APA Essay Format (7th ed.) from The Nature of Writing
How to Format Papers in APA (7th Edition) from SNHU Academic Support Resources
Citing in Chicago Manual of Style: Info & Examples
CMOS gives writers two different methods for documenting sources: the Notes-Bibliography (NB) System and the Author-Date (AD) System. Confirm with the  instructor which system is preferred.

NB uses superscript numbers in the text to direct the reader to a shortened citation as a Footnote at the bottom of the page or in an Endnotes section. This corresponds to a fuller citation on a Bibliography page at the end of the document. 

AD uses parenthetical in-text citations which include the source's author's last name, the year of publication, and page numbers. Each parenthetical citation corresponds to full citation on a References page that concludes the document.
How to cite in Chicago style: Notes-Bibliography System
Chicago Author-Date Style: The Basics
In-Text Citation: Chicago Author-Date Style
Citation Generators
Citation generators are tools that help students generate, organize, and store citations for research and writing purposes. Check out this Purdue OWL guide, Using Citation Generators Responsibly, to learn more about how citation generators work and how to prioritize accuracy and academic honesty while using them. In general, we recommend that you check any automatically-generated content against examples from credible sources (like OWL@Purdue and this guide!) in order to ensure that your citations are formatted correctly.

Below, we have included information about three popular citation generators: Zbib/Zotero, Google Docs, and Citation Machine.

General Info

Software download necessary? ✘ (Zbib) ✔ (Zotero)

Formats offered: MLA (8th ed.), APA (7th ed.), Chicago (17th ed.), and thousands of other styles available through the Zotero Style Repository.

Should you use Zbib or Zotero?  

> In a nutshell, both Zotero and Zbib are free, open-source tools capable of generating citations. Zbib is better for creating quick bibliographies for short-term projects, while Zotero--which requires the user to download software and set up an account-- is better for storing larger numbers of citations for longer-term projects.

> If you are planning on continuing your studies at OSU in the future, you may want to consider downloading Zotero! OSU offers its students larger amounts of storage if they use their student accounts to sign up; it also has librarians on staff that have special expertise in using the software.

Tips and Resources


> Check out the right-hand panel of the page to see a quick Zbib tutorial! 

> Oregon State University's Zotero guide

Google Docs

General Info 


Software download necessary?


Formats offered: MLA (8th ed.), APA (7th ed.), Chicago Author-Date (17th ed.) 

Tips & Resources

> Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this brief Google Docs citation tutorial from Kirkwood Community College Library. Please note that both of these videos teach viewers how to use the Google Docs citation tool in MLA format.
> Google offers this page by way of user instructions, but it’s not very comprehensive. Stay tuned for more tutorials on how to use this new citation tool!
Citation Machine

General Info


Software download necessary?


Formats offered: MLA (8th ed.), APA (7th ed.), Chicago (17th ed.), and 7,000+ other formats

Tips and Resources


> The popular Citation Machine generator tool on Purdue OWL allows the user to automatically generate a citation by inputting the URL of the source, but the full Citation Machine website offers more comprehensive tools for creating a bibliography.

Intro to Zotero Bib