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Research Skills Tutorial

This is a self-paced, non-credit course that covers research skills, critical thinking, media and internet literacy, and understanding the complexities of the modern information environment (including libraries.)

Citing 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.

Citation Tools

In addition to citation style guides, there are numerous tools -- from basic to advanced -- to help you format, organize, and share your citations.

For more information about citation tools, visit the Citation Tools tab of the Cite Your Sources guide on the library homepage.

The Cite Your Sources guide also has tabbed pages for each of the four citation styles discussed in this tutorial (MLA, APA, CSE, and Chicago). Visit the tabbed page for the style you are using to view style guides and sample papers for that style.

Accessibility Note

Please note: If you need to request accommodations with content linked to on this guide, on the basis of a disability, please contact Accessibility Resources and Services by emailing them.  Requests for accommodations should be submitted as early as possible to allow for sufficient planning. If you have questions, please visit the Accessibility Resources and Services website.