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Citation Guide

A guide to citation styles and ethics, with tools to help organize and cite your sources.
This guide provides resources on citation styles, citation management tools, and other aspects of ethical citation practices.

Why We Cite

An important part of examining ideas and creating new knowledge is tracking where ideas come from and acknowledging the contributions of others. We do this by citing our sources.

There are many different formats for citations. Which one you should use depends on your subject. Ask your instructor if there's a particular citation style you should use. Regardless of format, the reasons we cite are nearly universal.

  • Give credit where credit is due. (It's the right thing to do.)
  • Enhance the credibility of your argument with supporting evidence.
  • Point out the dialog you are having with other scholars and their ideas.
  • Provide your reader with additional sources for further reading.
  • Avoid plagiarism: unfairly taking personal credit for other authors' ideas.

How to Cite

This guide provides several tools to help you cite your sources correctly and ethically. Explore this guide for specific help with:

  • Understanding Plagiarism - how to cite the ideas of others ethically and avoid citation mistakes
  • Citation Styles (APA, Chicago, MLA) - the format of our citations and bibliographies
  • Citation Generators - database features that create quick citations for individual items
  • Citation Management Tools - Zotero and other programs to help you save and organize lots of citation information and generate citations and bibliographies as you write

Who We Cite Matters

Scholars gain influence and prestige as more and more researchers cite and talk about their work. If you think about who has historically had more access to higher education, it may not be surprising to learn that most citations go to white men.

That also means that ideas coming from women, people of color, LGBTQ, and/or poor and working class communities with fewer resources to publish are more likely to be ignored, depriving everyone of important perspectives and experiences.

When you use and cite sources, consider who you are citing. Does your research draw from a wide range of ideas and perspectives?