Citing Sources

Why is citing sources important?

  • To give credit to ideas that are not your own
  • To provide support for your argument
  • To enable your reader to find and read the sources you use
  • To adhere to the Carrol College code of student conduct

What needs to be cited and when to cite?

  • Direct quotes or exact wording taken from any source (including the Internet!)
  • Discussing, paraphrasing, or summarizing another person's work or ideas
  • Statistics and other data
  • Diagrams, images, and media that are not your own
  • In short, if the words or thoughts are not your own, cite it!

Common Knowledge

  • You do NOT need to cite when the information is common knowledge.
    • Common knowledge is generally-accepted information. For example, George Washington was the first president of the United States.

Here’s a short, 2-minute overview about citation for students:


Using the ideas or words of another person without giving credit constitutes plagiarism, a serious ethical and legal offense.

Carroll College’s Definition of Plagiarism (from Student Handbook)

“‘Plagiarism’ is the act of appropriating or sharing (without instructor approval) written, computer programmed, artistic, or musical compositions or portions thereof; or the ideas, language, or symbols of another and representing it as the product of one’s own mind. In all academic areas it is imperative that work be original or that explicit acknowledgment be given for the use of another person’s ideas or language.”

What is Plagiarism?

Any work or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be acknowledged. Any student who fails to give credit for ideas or materials obtained from another source is guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism, in any of its forms, and whether intentional or unintentional, violates standards of academic integrity. Examples of plagiarism include, but are not limited to:

  • Direct quotation of any source material whether published or unpublished without giving proper credit through the use of quotation marks, footnotes and other customary means of identifying sources.
  • Paraphrasing another person’s ideas, opinions, or theories from books, articles, websites, etc., without identifying and crediting sources.
  • Borrowing facts, statistics, graphs, diagrams, photographs, or other illustrative or visual materials that are not clearly common knowledge without identifying and crediting sources.
  • Copying another student’s essay, test answers, or submitting papers written by another person or persons. This includes copying, or allowing another student to copy, a computer file that contains another student’s assignment and submitting it, in part or in its entirety, as one’s own.
  • Buying or selling, or exchanging term papers, examinations, or other written assignments, or any part of them.
  • Offering false, fabricated, or fictitious sources for papers, reports, or other assignments.

Check out the video below for a tutorial about what plagiarism is and how you can avoid it: 

Citation Styles

There are several types of citation styles (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). If you are unsure of which style to use, ask your instructor.

For more information on the different styles and links to guides, see our Style Guides page.

Zotero: A Free Citation and Research Management Tool

With Zotero, you can:

  • Automatically import citation information from websites, library catalogs, journals, and databases
  • Automatically generate formatted bibliographies in many different styles, including APA and MLA
  • Automatically generate footnotes and endnotes in many different styles
  • Enter notes and tags that can be keyword searched
  • Sync the citations and information you save online across multiple devices via with
  • Share your saved work with classmates

Check out this guide for how to freely install and use Zotero.