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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. 

Bibliography and Citation Software 

There are some great software options out there that make it easy to both organize and cite resources, which can be incredibly valuable especially with lengthy, research-intensive papers like thesis work and dissertations. The additional value of these options include the ability to maintain a bibliography of works you will use across numerous papers. The Clarkson Writing Center does encourage students to understand the basics of the citation formats used in their disciplines before and during the use of citation software, because sometimes, the software is not perfect. Self-editing is important when utilizing these citation software options in your papers to ensure accuracy.  
    • As of December, 2016, Clarkson will discontinue its paid subscription of RefWorks.Individuals can continue to subscribe to RefWorks on their own if desired, or export records to another software.  

    • The Clarkson Libraries recommend and provide support for Zotero

    • The Clarkson University libraries has produced a very resourceful online guide to citation software options, many of which are linked to online and video tutorials. 

    • 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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