A citation is a listing of all the information necessary to identify and locate a specific published source—whether it's a book, an article, a video, a website or a tweet.

Why do I need to cite my sources?

Citing your sources is important for three reasons.

  1. It gives credit to the person whose idea it is you are referencing.
  2. It leads readers to your sources.
  3. It helps you avoid plagiarism.

When you find information in another source, whether it is a newspaper, magazine, academic journal or even online, someone else has published it, which means that essentially that person "owns" the information and the ideas (also called intellectual property). Not giving that person credit when you borrow their ideas or words is called plagiarism, and that is a very serious academic infraction. Click here to view Waubonsee Community College's plagiarism statement.

(Source: http://guides.library.illinois.edu/citingsources - Undergraduate Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Citation Tools in Databases

Most of the library databases have a citation tool that will create a citation for an item. When using the tool, make sure you choose the style that your instructor requires (MLA, APA, Chicago). Be aware that while these database-generated citations are a fine place to start, you will need to check the details of the citation using a style guide.

Consider these tips when using citations from a database.

  • Pay attention to capitalization of article titles—it’s different for MLA and APA.
  • Correct any titles or names that appear in all capital letters.
  • Your instructor may want you to include optional elements such as a URL or "date accessed."

Citation Styles