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Citing your Sources: The Basics

This guide covers the basics of citing sources. Why do we cite? When should you cite? How should you do it? Find answers to these questions here.

Unfamiliar words

This guide uses words that may be unfamiliar to you. When you see a word in bold, check out the glossary to see the definition.

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For help with citations or anything else, contact a reference librarian at (309) 298-2700 or stop by the reference desk on the 2nd floor of Malpass Library.

Citing your sources

Importance of citing

Image: Kittisak /

Whenever you borrow from another author's work, you need to give that author credit. This act of crediting is called "citing" or "citation." Borrowing can mean a lot of things, and sometimes it's hard to know whether or not you need to include a citation in your paper. Generally speaking, whenever you quote, paraphrase or summarize from another author's work, you should include a citation.

Engaging with other people's ideas is essential to academic research and writing. By citing sources properly, you're telling your audience (and your professor) that you've read and understood what experts have to say on a given topic. This guide will help you understand the basics of why, when and how to cite.

Permission to use

Creative Commons License
By Mahrya Carncross, WIU Libraries, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.