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Citation & Documentation: Home

This guide is meant to help you with citing & documenting your sources. Different tabs have information about the main citations styles (APA, Chicago, MLA, & CSE) as well as links to citation tools you can use to organize and manage your references.

Which Style Do I Use?

The documentation style you use depends on the disciplinary area of the subject.

Check with your professor if you are unsure of which one to use.

APA Style

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition cover

Chicago Style

Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) cover

MLA Style

MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd Edition cover

CSE Style

Scientific Style And Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, And Publishers (8th Ed.)

Why Cite?

Most academic work draws upon the works of others; therefore, citing your sources is an important part of the scholarly writing process.

Citations include the key elements that allow your sources to be identified and located. These elements vary depending upon the type of resource.

There are several reasons to cite your sources:

  • Give proper credit to the ideas, words, and works of others you use in your research
  • Allow readers to find your sources - so they can determine if they are reliable, better evaluate your argument, and locate additional information
  • Avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism Prevention

Indiana University's Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct defines plagiarism as:

"[...] presenting someone else’s work, including the work of other students, as one’s own. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged, unless the information is common knowledge. What is considered 'common knowledge' may differ from course to course" (Part II: Student Responsibilities, Section 3). "

Plagiarism is taking someone else's words and ideas and presenting them as your own without giving credit to the source. This means that all work you submit in your classes must be your own work, and that all sources that you used in your work must be documented and acknowledged. Plagiarism is a serious offense with severe consequences. You could receive an F for your assignment or fail the course altogether. Make certain that you are familiar with the University’s policy on plagiarism and academic integrity and understand what it means. 

Part of being a member of an academic community involves following the rules and conventions that govern it. Using information accurately and ethically demonstrates that you are aware of the codes of the culture of academia. The documentation of information sources serves the purpose of providing credibility, reliability, and accuracy to your work. It is not wrong to use the ideas or information of others in your research. Most research papers require the use of outside sources to build an argument or present and informed perspective. What is wrong, however, is to use these ideas without documenting the fact that you got them from somewhere else. Plagiarism can happen even if you do not intend to plagiarize.

In order to avoid plagiarism, you should:

  • Keep track of what information sources you use and what information you took from them. For example, if you copy down a quotation in your notes, be certain to note who is the source of the quotation and where you found it.
  • Be wary of copying and pasting text from electronic sources. While this is a quick and easy way to get the words exactly right for a quotation, it is also easy to forget to document the source of this text.
  • Use in-text citations in your paper followed by a bibliography at the end of your paper, depending on the documentation style specified by your instructor.

Questions about Documenting your Sources?

Web Resources

Consult these free web resources for additional assistance:


Creative Commons License
Citation & Documentation LibGuide by Kate Moore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.

Based on Jason Puckett and Amy Harris' work at