Answered By: Sarah Morehouse
Last Updated: May 01, 2015     Views: 109


  • Every quotation
  • Every summary or paraphrase (putting it into your own words)
  • Every time you use a fact that's not common knowledge
    • What's common knowledge? Something that's so widely known that nobody really knows or cares where the information came from, like "Chlorophyll is green" or "Monet was an Impressionist painter." 
  • Every time you use an idea, theory, hypothesis, opinion
  • Every time you use an image, video, audio clip, or interactive element

When you summarize a work (or a chunk of a work) you cannot just cite once at the end of your summary. Every discrete fact and idea needs to be cited. The reason is that your in-text citations are meant to help your reader go directly to the place where you found that exact piece of information.

What if you found the same piece of information in two places? Which do you cite? 

  • Did once source get the information from the other source? Cite the original source.
  • Did they both get their information from somewhere else? Cite the original source. 
  • You may need to use an indirect citation

Because of the way time works in this universe, the original source will be earlier than the rest. ;)

Citations AND Bibliography/Works Cited

Every citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) requires you to cite in two ways. 

  1. Every time you use a quote, paraphrase, fact, or idea, you need to cite it in the text.
    • In the form of footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical references
  2. At the end of your paper, a list of all the sources you used.
    • In the form of a bibliography, works cited, or references list

Seriously, is this just busywork?

Actually, no. Citing is important for several reasons:

  1. Academically: Showing your work. Your instructor wants to see that you did your research.
  2. Ethically: Giving credit where credit is due. If you don't do this, it's plagiarism.
  3. Scholarly: Allowing your readers to trace the information and ideas you present back to their original sources, which is important for them to be able to verify your work and develop ideas of their own.


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