The Ethical and Legal Use of Information chapter covered why you need to cite, and how citations allow you to use other people’s ideas in an ethical way. As the video in that chapter discussed, there are many different citation styles and the one you will use depends on your specific course, instructor, and assignment instructions.

Two Connected Parts

All citation styles include two parts that work together:

  1. An in-text citation, which is a brief notation (usually within a paragraph, at the end of a sentence) acknowledging that information came from another source. In MLA and APA style, an in-text citation is contained inside parentheses (and sometimes called a “parenthetical citation”). Citation styles that use footnotes or endnotes (such as Chicago or Turabian) may use a superscript in the same way.
  2. At the end of the paper or assignment, there will be a list of more detailed bibliographic information that enables the reader to find the sources that were used. Every in-text citation must have a matching entry in this list. Depending on what citation style you are using, his list may be called “works cited,” “references,” or “bibliography.” Different citation styles will require you to format these citations in different ways, but they all include similar information, like the author’s name, title of the publication, date, URL, and/or page numbers.

The next section on When to Cite Sources addresses how to incorporate in-text citations and the MLA and APA sections will focus on how to create the full citations for various information source types.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Introduction to College Research Copyright © by Walter D. Butler; Aloha Sargent; and Kelsey Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.