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 could be in many formats: books, tweets, podcasts, articles, and websites, etc. There are special rules for citing emails and other conversations that the public can't access. In APA, you only cite these in-text as personal communications. In MLA, there are also special ways to cite emails and interviews.
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.
  • Be sure to check any automatically-generated content against examples from the OWL@Purdue or another credible source like this guide!
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
Intro to Zotero Bib
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