Using and Citing Sources

Information sources can be used as sources of ideas or definitions for a project, be themselves a project's subject, help illustrate a point, support an argument, or provide instructions for a project's execution. It is important to know when and how such sources should be cited. Follow the guidelines given here to properly provide attribution for your sources.

How to Use Sources How to Cite
What to Cite Citing Tools
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How to Use Sources

It is often necessary to incorporate the thoughts of others into academic projects requiring you to think about a topic. As you do this be careful to respect the original intent of your sources. That is, do not use them out of context. Allow them to provide their input as in a forum in which you too express your ideas, but also modulate the interventions of others and weigh their thoughts. The final outcome should be more than the sum of the ideas of those who took part in the conversation, and be deeply infused with your own reasoning.

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What to Cite

Academic projects should have references to sources used to obtain information that is not common knowledge. This includes statistical figures, debatable claims, obscure historical accounts, technical data, and the words or summarized words of others. When in doubt whether to cite a source, cite it.

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How to Cite

Follow your professor's instructions for citing sources. You may be required to adhere to a standard citation style (e.g., MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian, etc.) or follow a specific style guide for the course or department or just provide complete and consistent citations in the style of your choice. Citation manuals are available at the library so you can learn how to format your citations from scratch, but there are tools available to make this easier. Read on for more information.

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Citing Tools

Some search systems provide information on how to cite specific items. In addition to that, here are some basic tools you may want to look into when formatting and compiling your sources.

BibMe. Free automatic bibliography generator that supports MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian formatting. Getting the citation for a book is easy as it only requires enterig the title, author or ISBN. For articles it is better to enter the information manually.

EasyBib. Free automatic works cited and bibliography formatting for MLA. Other styles require a subscription. Works like EasyBib. Switch to manual entry to format non-book citations.

OttoBib. For books only. Enter the ISBN of a book to get its citation in a specific format (e.g., MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian).

CiteMe. Facebook application that provides formatted citations from WorldCat, the world's largest library catalog. Not for articles.

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