How to Cite Sources

Whether you’re writing a paper, giving a presentation, or working on your thesis, you’ll want to give credit to the ideas you are using, referencing, or reacting to as you create your own contributions to the academic dialogue.  But how and when do you cite sources?  Here are some style manuals, guides, and resources to help you tackle the job.


Major Citation Style Manuals

Chicago Manual of Style  -- or in print: Ref. Desk Z253.U69 2003

  • There are two versions outlined in the manual:  A, the humanities style, and B, author-date, preferred by social science and science disciplines.

MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing – Ref. PN147.G444 2008

-- or --

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers – Ref. Desk LB2369.G53 2003

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association – Ref. or Reserves BF76.7 .P83 2001

Online examples:  See APA Style Frequently Asked Questions

When to Cite

Academic writing requires that you acknowledge use of the intellectual work of others.  These are some of the most common situations that require that you identify and give credit to the work of others:
It is not necessary to give credit for commonly known facts or expressions. [1]

Why to Cite

The most recent edition of Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations gives four reasons for citing outside sources used in your writing:
•    To give credit
•    To assure readers of the accuracy of your facts
•    To show readers the research tradition that informs your work
•    To help readers follow or extend your research [2]

Failure to give credit to the ideas of others, whether intentional or not, constitutes plagiarism and is a violation of Reed’s Honor Principle as described in the Reed College Guidebook:

"Academic misconduct is a breach of the principle of proper academic conduct and includes both intentional acts of misrepresenting another's work as one's own as well as unintentional acts that fail to conform to the rules of appropriate attribution and credit. Academic misconduct is a violation of Reed's Honor Principle in its most fundamental form and is contrary to the idea of scholarship."

EndNote for Managing Citations

All students, faculty, and staff are eligible to download and use EndNote, a citation management program that allows you to save and organize citations as you do research, then inserts and formats citations in the format you choose as you write your Word document.  Read more about EndNote at the Computer User Services help page.  For more information about importing citations from research databases selecting citation styles, ask a librarian.


[1] The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 444-45.

[2] Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers, 7th ed., revised by Wayne C. Booth et al. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 133-34.