A citation describes an information source by providing its

  • author(s) or editor(s)
  • title(s) (article, journal, book, book chapter, web page, etc.)
  • publication information (place, publisher, date), and/or…
  • point of access (database, URL, date accessed)

There are numerous reasons for citing sources, including:

  • avoiding plagiarism (a form of academic misconduct)
  • adding credibility to your paper or project
  • increasing the findability of your information sources

If you don’t want to do citations “by hand,” there are various citation tools you can use:

  • Citation Builders — easy to use; create one citation at a time by filling in blanks on web forms; best for small numbers of citatations
  • RefWorks — not so easy to use; create your own database of references; best for larger projects

Cite Source, from Trinity College Library in Hartford, Connecticut, provides an excellent overview of the concepts of intellectual property, rights and licenses, along with numerous examples of major citation styles.

Which style should I use?

Which citation format or style is right for you will depend on your subject you are studying and what your professor recommends or requires. Some popular styles are:

There are numerous other styles. Your instructor is the ultimate authority on which one is “right” for his/her class.