Skip to Main Content

Citation Guides: Home

This guide includes information on all citation guides including MLA, APA, etc.

To find the citation syle you are working with please click on the appropriate tab. Also the tips at the bottom of the page are great! 

What is a Citation?

When To Cite

A citation is a reference to the source of information used in your research. Any time you directly quote, paraphrase or summarize the essential elements of someone else's idea in your work, an in-text citation should follow. An in-text citation is a brief notation within the text of your paper or presentation which refers the reader to a fuller notation, or end-of-paper citation, that provides all necessary details about that source of information.

Direct quotations should be surrounded by quotations marks and are generally used when the idea you want to capture is best expressed by the source. 

Paraphrasing and summarizing involve rewording an essential idea from someone else's work, usually to either condense the point or to make it better fit your writing style.

You do not have to cite your own ideas, unless they have been published. And you do not have to cite common knowledge, or information that most people in your audience would know without having to look it up.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations alert the reader to an idea from an outside source.

Parenthetical Notes

In MLA and APA styles, in-text citations usually appear as parenthetical notes (sometimes called parenthetical documentation). They are called parenthetical notes because brief information about the source, usually the author's name, year of publication, and page number, is enclosed in parentheses as follows:

MLA style: (Smith 263)

APA style: (Smith, 2013, p. 263)

Parenthetical notes are inserted into the text of the paper at the end of a sentence or paragraph:>

Example of a parenthetical in-text citation.

In MLA and APA styles, in-text citations are associated with end-of-paper citations that provide full details about an information source.

Note: Different source types and situations require different information within the parentheses. Refer to a style guide for the style you are using for details.

What is Citing?


When we use another person's idea in our research, we must include a brief notation next to that idea to let our readers know who developed it. This brief notation is called an in-text citation. At the end of our work, we include a fuller notation, which provides details that allow others to identify and locate the source in which we found that idea. This fuller notation is referred to as an end-of-paper citation.

Citation Styles

Which details must be included within these in-text and end-of-paper citations, and how each is formatted, depends on the citation style we have been asked to use. For example, in both APA style and MLA style, the in-text citation typically goes inside a set of parentheses. In both Chicago style and CSE style, in-text citations are typically indicated with superscript numerals that refer to footnotes (bottom of page) or endnotes (end of chapter).

Information on SBL is forthcoming with the new updates (August 2016)

In all four of these styles, the end-of-paper citations are listed on the last (usually separate) page of the paper. In both APA style and Chicago style, that page is titled "References." In MLA style, that page is titled, "Works Cited." And, in CSE style, that page is titled "Cited References."

Each citation style has different rules about how in-text and end-of paper citations for various source types (books, articles, web pages, videos) and situations (online, print, no author, multiple authors) must be constructed (what is included, and in what order) and formatted (punctuation, italics, capitalization).

There are thousands of citations styles, but APA, MLA, CSE and Chicago are the four most commonly used in college research writing. Each style also has formatting rules for the paper itself, including title page rules, font size, section headers and so on. You will find details about the rules of a particular style in the style guideslocated at the tab (above) for that style.

You do not have to cite your own ideas, unless they have been published. And you do not have to cite common knowledge, or information that most people in your audience would know without having to look it up.

Why Cite?

Citing your sources is important for a number of reasons:

  1. It allows your readers to locate the sources you used in order to verify the information, or to do their own research on that subject.
  2. It also shows how your research builds on the research of others. A citation after a phrase tells your readers which ideas came from someone else, so that it is assumed everything else in your project was your own, original thinking, whether that thinking takes the concept a step further, in a totally new direction, or disputes the concept.
  3. It is an important part of Academic Integrity. Using another person’s ideas or words without indicating via a citation where you found them is plagiarism. Eastern University faculty members have access to Turnitin, which identifies similarities between the text in your papers and Turnitin’s own constantly growing database of student papers, billions of Web pages, and millions of articles from academic books and journals. This helps instructors identify instances of plagiarism.
  4. Possible consequences of plagiarism include a failing grade for the assignment, a failing grade for the course, and termination from the college.



New! Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click below to find an answer to a question you might have.


Citation Tips and Tools

Citing Tips

Citations consist of identifying information about the sources you are using in your research. To cite properly, you need to be able to distinguish between different types of information sources. For example, there are different rules for citing print versus online sources, and individual online articles versus articles from library databases.

You will also encounter different scenarios with your various sources types that require different ways of citing. For example, sources with no author, sources with multiple authors, multiple sources by the same author, and indirect sources.

Although the online style guides are very helpful, there are situations and types of sources for which they do not provide explicit instructions. If the type of source you are using is not included in the style guide, follow the guidelines for the most similar type of source. For example, the liner notes of a music CD would be similar to an anthology of poetry.

If you cannot find a certain piece of information (for example, many websites do not list an author or page numbers) most style guides will tell you how to handle these situations.

Before you start your research:

  • Find out which citation style is commonly used in your field.
  • Ask your instructor which citation style to use. Your instructor is ultimately grading you, so the decision rests with that person, not the librarians.
  • If you know in advance that you are required to use only articles from scholarly journals found in the library's databases (or another particular type of source), use the style guide to note the required citation information for that type of source.

As you research:

  • For every information source you identify, decide what kind of information source it is, and use the style guide to note the information you will need to include to cite that source properly. Keep a running list of that information as your search.
  • Often, we begin researching one topic and that research leads us to a more interesting topic. Keep track of citation information for all related sources, so you can easily find them again, if needed.