Skip to Main Content

Citation Guide

Discover and explore the basics of why and how to cite.

What is a Citation?

Person holding a sign reading "citation needed"

What is a Citation?

A citation is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source and gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again. Citations may include: Information about the Author(s) or Editor(s).

  • The Title of the work
  • The Publisher
  • The Date published
  • The Page Numbers of the material you are referencing
  • Why should I cite sources?

Giving credit to the original author by citing sources is the only way to use other people's work without plagiarizing. But there are a number of other reasons to cite sources:

  • Citations are extremely helpful to anyone who wants to find out more about your ideas and where they came from.
  • Not all sources are good or right for your project -- your own ideas may often be more accurate or interesting than those of your sources. Proper citation will keep you from taking the rap for someone else's bad ideas.
  • Citing sources shows the amount of research you've done.
  • Citing sources strengthens your work by lending outside support to your ideas.

Doesn't citing sources make my work seem less original?

Not at all. Citing sources actually helps your reader distinguish your ideas from those of your sources. This will emphasize the originality of your own work. It also gives you greater credibility because you are demonstrating your knowledge on the subject and your understanding of the work that's already been done by others on the subject.

When do I need to cite?

Whenever you borrow words or ideas from another source, you need to acknowledge that source. The following situations almost always require a citation:

  • Whenever you use quotes
  • Whenever you paraphrase
  • Whenever you use an idea that someone else has already expressed
  • Whenever you make specific reference to the work of another
  • Whenever someone else's work has been critical in developing your own ideas

Scholarly versus Popular Publications

Citation Components (CREDO)

Writing Help

Online Writing Lab logo

The Limestone University OWL (online writing lab) is the virtual extension of the Writing Center on the main campus. The LU OWL offers live peer tutorial sessions to all students. On campus students may visit the Writing Lab in person. 

If you are experiencing problems with our guides and databases, please contact ProfessorJanet S. Ward,, Assistant Director of the Library and Web Services Librarian.