Skip to main content

Understand Citations — Understand Citations


Why do we emphasize citations so much?

  1. Citations build support for your project 
  2. Citations help you locate sources
  3. It's the ethical thing to do.

This guide will help you recognize the common elements of a citation, and recognize the type of source it is pointing to.

Academics use quotes and ideas from the works of others to enter into the scholarly conversation. They demonstrate why the topic they have chosen is important (since others are reading and writing about it), and acknowledge the works of others that they use in their work.  

Citing your sources is your primary means of evidence. Academic & professional writers (like lawyers, doctors, or engineers) never expect their readers to just take their word for it - citations allow readers to make sure that the writer is accurately representing their source(s)!

And - of course - it's the right thing to do!

When do I cite?

  • Direct Quotes
  • Paraphrase 
  • Summary 
  • Facts, Data
  • Anytime anything originated outside of your own skull!

When don't I cite?

Information that is established as common knowledge doesn't require a citation. 

Common knowledge is typically defined as information that is common enough to appear in dictionaries, encyclopedias, reference books and appears the same way in multiple sources.


When in doubt, cite!

Citation: A (Very) Brief Introduction

Created by North Carolina State University Library:

Need Help?

Need help figuring out how to properly use citations?