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College Readiness

Why We Cite

We use "citations to tell the reader that the material or information in a work comes from another sources and allows the reader to find the original source of that information." (

  • To show the time you invested in researching the topic/project.
  • Using sources outside of yourself strengthens your argument or point of research.
  • Allows others to find the original source in case they have questions or want to further their research.
  • Allows others to fact check, compare statistics and data.

When do you cite?

  • Directly quote someone
  • Use a concept or idea from someone else
  • Reference another work or project
  • Are heavily influenced by another person’s work
  • Paraphrase someone

Most Common Citation Styles

There are hundreds of citation styles.  Many of these are specific to publications (Nature) or research fields (American Chemical Society).  Thankfully there are 4 main styles used in academia.

If you instructor did not specific the style, ask!  Instructors may take points off your grade for improper citations use.  If you need help with learning a new style or just want to make sure you are doing it right, ask a librarian!

These style are not just for how you will cite a reference.  They also determine how a paper is formatted and can define the writing style of paper.  Refer to the offical guides to determine how you need to meet these criteria.

Information needed to cite

Book Citation Information:

Author(s), Title, Publisher, Publication Location, and Publication Date.

Scholarly Article Citation Information:

Author(s), Article Title, Journal Title, Volume Number, Issue Number, Publication Date, and Page Numbers.


Citation systems

Different citation styles use different systems.  Here are the main two.

Vancouver, which uses sequential numbers that refer to foot or endnotes.

Parenthetical referencing, which uses full or partialcitations enclosed inparentheses.

Hanging Indentation

When creating a reference page you will be required to "hang indent" each entry.  This means the second and all the following lines of a paragraph are indented more than the first.  Instead of struggling with word's ruler, there is a simple buttun that will hang all your references at once without any format issues.

Write your full citation(s) as usually.  Then highlight the full citation(s).  Expand the Paragraph dialog box.  

Select "Hanging" under special indentation.

In-Text Citation

In-text citation is used when you want to use a source within your text.  

Indirect or Paraphrasing:  

  • Does not mention author
  • Exact or nearly identical wording
  • Uses the original idea


  • Mentions author
  • Uses exact words
  • Best for short quotes

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