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Citations & Style Guide

Information and resources on how to cite references correctly.

Citation Basics

Citing sources accurately is an important aspect of academic writing. Though citations may vary depending on the type of resource and writing style, the purpose of citations is to unique identify sources so that information can be shared easily and used ethically. 

The basic parts of a citation each help to identify the source and usually include elements such as the; author, title, publisher name and location, series information (volume, issue, or edition), date of publication, and location within the text or website. Additional elements such as a DOI or distributor may be added to further uniquely identify certain types of resources. 

Remember, if you are writing for a class or for publication, your instructor or publisher is always the final authority to consult for determining which style to use as well as for determining the proper format for a specific citation.

Parts of a Citation

Citation Examples

When to Cite

Citations generally have two parts; an embedded notation, sometimes included as an in-text citation or footnote, and a comprehensive list of all referenced works, sometimes referred to as a bibliography, a reference list, or a works cited document.

There are primarily two methods of using outside sources in your work, quoting and paraphrasing, and both methods require that a citation be included in order to identify the source.When questioning whether or not to cite a source, consider the following:

  • Is the information you want to use from the source a fact, figure, or idea?
  • Is the information something that would not be considered "common knowledge"?
  • Are you including the source's exact language, or presently the concept in a identical way?
  • Are you borrowing heavily from the source's material in order to form your own ideas?
  • Are you using any part of an original creative work such as an image, sound, or clip?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it is likely that a citation is needed. When in doubt, remember it is better to include a citation than to leave it out and risk plagiarism. 

Best Bets

These pages provide you with information about the recommended styles of universities, publishing houses, and professional organizations, as well as helpful external links for additional help.

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

Expansive Resource: The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University provides online writing resources and instructional material as a free service. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with many writing projects.

UNT Writing Lab

On Campus: Offers free tutoring to all UNT students, in all disciplines, and at all stages of their academic careers. Tutoring is available in person or online. The UNT Writing Lab website also includes a number of helpful pages on grammar, punctuation, technical writing, citations, etc.

Writing Resources from the Libraries' Collections

Writing and style manuals are available online and for checkout at most library service desks.

Find Materials On: Academic Writing | Report Writing | Scholarly Publishing | Style Manuals
See Also: English Grammar Guides | Plagiarism

Additional Links

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