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Citation Guide: General Information

Your one-stop guide to citing sources

Welcome to the HF Library Citation Guide!


Citing sources for a research paper or project can sometimes be tough, but it doesn't have to be!  This research guide explains why citing sources is important, provides information on different citation styles, and contains links to examples.

For help using NoodleTools, which is a citation creation software, select the NoodleTools tab. 

If you're looking for a specific citation style, click one of the tabs at the top (MLA, APA, or Chicago). 

Happy Citing!

Why is Citing Sources Important?

Citing your sources is very important because... 

  • It tells your reader where your ideas are coming from.
  • If your reader wants to know more about your resource, he/she can easily lookup it up using the citation.    
  • It helps you avoid plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism?

  • Plagiarism is the act of using someone else's words, ideas, and/or work and passing it off as your own.   

There are two places in your paper where you will cite the sources you used.

  • In the text of your paper, using parenthesis, footnotes, or endnotes.
  • At the end of your paper in the form of a list of all the sources.  This is called a Works Cited, References, or Bibliography page/section.


Remember, when you use an idea that is not your own, you MUST cite it!

The links below provide general information about citations and plagiarism.

Plagiarism -- How NOT to Do It

MLA, APA, Chicago: Comparing the Differences

Different citation styles are used by different subjects.  The punctuation, formatting, and bibliographic information included in the citation will look different depending on which style you use.  Always ask your teacher which citation style they prefer. 

Citation: A (Very) Brief Introduction

The Different Parts of a Citation

All citations are made up of similar information or what is commonly called "Bibliographic Information."  

Remember the parts of a citation with The 4 W's: Who, What, When, and Where.

Who: Who created the source?  This could be a person, multiple people, or an institution.  Often listed as the author, editor, and/or contributor.

What: What the source is.  Always include the title of the source. Depending on what style you are using, you may also have to include the source's format (print, image, video, etc). 

When: When the source was published. Depending on what style you are using, you may also have to include the date you accessed the source. This is usually done for websites.

Where: Where the source came from.  Each source format has its own rules of what to list in your citation, but can include a city of publication, a page number, or a URL.