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Citation Formats

In this Section

Why Should You Cite Your Sources?

  • Knowledge is cumulative, and we build new knowledge based on the work of others. Citing your sources enables your readers to access information. Sharing knowledge benefits all.
  • Whatever your field, you gain credibility as a thinker and writer when you cite your sources.
  • In many countries, including the U.S., research and other creative work is considered intellectual property; its originators must be credited for their work.
  • Carefully documenting your sources prevents you from plagiarizing, a serious ethical offense.

What Should You Cite?

  • Cite the source of directly quoted print and electronic information and images (except established facts commonly known to your reader) (examples).
  • Cite the source of a concept, principle, interpretation, design, or technique, etc. (examples).
  • Cite any text you paraphrase or summarize (examples).

What Citation Format Should You Use?

  • Citation formats differ by disciplines. For example:
    • APA commonly used in the social sciences & business: in-text and references
    • MLA commonly used when working with literature: in-text and references
    • Chicago commonly used when writing about history and political science
    • CSE (formerly CBE) commonly used in the sciences and engineering: in-text and references
    • IEEE, ACS commonly used in engineering
    • AMA (see section 4) is required by some professors in the Physical Therapy program.

    Before you choose a format, check with your professor or a journal from your field. 

    • You must cite your sources both in your text and in a list of references at the end of your work.
      • Clarkson offers RefWorks to all students. Using RefWorks, you can create a database of your sources, easily add in-text citations and create your bibliography.
      • In addition, under the References tab in Word, writers can find the tools to create a list of references and to insert in-text citations.  Writers can select from several common citation formats.
      • You can also find information about different formats at Duke Citations Reference.
      • Find information about citing electronic sources at Bedford St. Martins.
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