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Research Skills: How to Cite

Basic research skills such as finding books, journal articles, working with databases, citing your sources, and more.

What & Why?

Not your very own thoughts or ideas? Give credit to the original author(s) by citing each of your sources of information!

Using someone's work and not giving credit is considered PLAGIARISM. Learn more about why you must avoid it!

Citation Guides in the Library - Print

Parts of a Citation

Ask your instructor what citation style to use. The example below is a citation for a journal article in MLA style that was found in a research database.

mla journal article example

And what is a citation anyway?

In your academic work you are expected to provide references to the sources of information you used. These references are called citations. A list of citations is referred to as a bibliography. Providing citations serves several purposes:

  • You show where you got the ideas, text, or images for your paper. That is being academically honest!
  • Your bibliography shows how credible your work is, depending on the quality of sources you used.
  • Your readers can locate the sources you consulted and follow your research trail.

Citation Tools

The following are free, online citation tools:

  • EasyBib -- Offers MLA bibliography generator for free. Also available as a free add-on in Google Docs.
  • NoodleTools Express -- Generates citations for MLA, APA, and Chicago, but does not let you export to word processor or save citations. Advanced features require a subscription.
  • Mendeley -- a free citation manager and academic social network.
  • Zotero -- a free citation manager developed at George Mason University.

Citation Game

This game by the University of Washington will help you practice your citation skills in APA or MLA.