Citation | Webster University


Understanding Citation

Consistent citation is naturally the most straightforward way of avoiding plagiarism. Always provide credit to any ideas, words, images, or other intellectual material designed by someone else. The ways in which to do so, however, are myriad. Different professional/academic fields rely on different information and therefore their citations reflect those differences. Before beginning any project, consult the information given by your instructor. Is a citation style noted? If not, check the course syllabus. Sometimes the instructor won’t include citation style on project handouts because the course as a whole will be governed by one style or another, noted in the course syllabus. If a citation style still isn’t clear, then ask the instructor. Never assume or guess.

What’s most important to know about citation is that it doesn’t just come in one place or one type. For instance, most of you may be aware that a citation page needs to go at the end of a project to credit the materials used. However, some of you may be less aware of in-text citation, providing short notes within the body of the text that credits each use of source material. These in-text citations are vitally important in communicating to your reader which specific sentences, words, or ideas come from research. Omitting them will lead to plagiarized use of source material.

You must be fully aware of how to construct not only the in-text citations but also the full citations that go at the end of your essay. See the Writing Center’s citation guides linked below for assistance in these areas, but be aware that these guides only provide a brief gloss of citation rules and examples. For the most accurate, effective citations, you should always consult a current copy of the official citation style handbook, via places such as the library or Writing Center. If you are just beginning your college career, it is a good idea to buy a copy to have on hand, as the handbook will be necessary throughout the rest of your college journey.

APA Documentation: This is commonly used by fields in the social sciences. See the Writing Center’s APA Documentation guide for details.

MLA Documentation: This is commonly used in English classes and the humanities. See the Writing Center’s MLA Documentation guide for details.

Chicago Documentation: This is commonly used in publishing, as well as history and some other humanities. See the Writing Center’s Chicago Documentation guide for details.