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Library & Information Technology

Citations & Writing Help: Why Cite?

Why Cite?

Writers must be credited for their ideas and their writing. Not to do so is to plagiarize.

Plagiarism is defined as intentionally or unintentionally using the ideas, language, or work of another without acknowledgement that such material is not one's own.

Whenever you quote, paraphrase, summarize, or otherwise refer to the work of another, you are required to cite its source.

At CCAD, the most common citation styles used are MLA (Modern Language Association, used in English classes), Chicago/Turabian Notes and Bibliography (used in art history), and APA (American Psychological Association, used in the social sciences). There are style manuals for each style that you can use.

You need to cite your sources whenever you:

  • Quote a sentence or passage
  • Paraphrase or summarize ideas that are not your own
  • Make specific reference to the work of others
  • Utilize data or statistics

You do NOT need to cite:

  • Well-known and undisputed facts (ex. Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland)
  • Your own ideas expressed elsewhere in the same paper

Adapted from

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

What are the differences among quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing?
These three ways of incorporating other writers' work into your own writing differ according to the closeness of your writing to the source writing.

  1. Quotations must be identical to the original. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.
  2. Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly.
  3. Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

Why use quotations, paraphrases, and summaries?
Quotations, paraphrases, and summaries serve many purposes. You might use them to:

  • Provide support for claims or add credibility to your writing
  • Refer to work that leads up to the work you are now doing
  • Give examples of several points of view on a subject
  • Call attention to a position that you wish to agree or disagree with
  • Highlight a particularly striking phrase, sentence, or passage by quoting the original
  • Distance yourself from the original by quoting it in order to cue readers that the words are not your own
  • Expand the breadth or depth of your writing

For more information on how to incorporate quotations, paraphrases, and summaries in your research papers, try these sites: