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Citing Your Sources And Plagiarism

Use this guide to understand how to correctly use quotes and paraphrases and cite your sources in a research paper.


NICC typically uses either the APA or MLA formats to cite work.  Citations may look different, depending on what is being cited and which style was used to create them.  Ask your instructor which style s/he prefers for the paper.

Reasons to Cite Sources

When you research a topic you may use information from articles, books, or the Open Web to support your ideas. Building upon the ideas and knowledge of other people is the way we as individuals build and contribute to the knowledge around us.

When you integrate other peoples' ideas and work into your own, it is important to give those authors credit for their hard work. This enables others, who see your work, to also look at those peoples' ideas that have contributed to your project. To cite means that you state where you found the information so that others can find the exact item again.

Tips for researching and citing:

  • Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas.
  • Write down the complete citation information for each item you use.
  • Take advantage of online citing tools.
  • Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words.
  • Always credit original authors for their information and ideas.

Milner Library - Illinois State University --

When to Cite

So how do you know when to cite? A few basic rules apply.

1. If you quote a resource, cite it.

2. If you paraphrase someone else's idea or statement, cite it.

3. If you state a fact that is not common knowledge, cite it.

4. If you're unsure, cite it.

Statement Cite? Reason
The Internet has brought many changes to the field of journalism. No Most people are aware of this.
Newspaper circulation has dropped by 20 percent because of the Internet. Yes This is a specific fact that is not common knowledge.
Also, readers may want to know where this information came from so that they can evaluate it to see how reliable it is.

Milner Library - Illinois State University --

Adding Citations & References Using MS Word