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Citing Sources: Introduction

Learn how and when to cite resources you find in your research.

Welcome to the Citing Source Guide

Welcome to the library guide on Citing Sources. From here you can jump to the MLA and APA links above and below to see formatting and citation examples as well as explanations.

Citation Formats

Cerro Coso generally uses two styles of citation. If you are unsure which to use for your paper, ask your instructor.


The Modern Language Association style of citation is generally used in courses such as English, Art, and other Humanities.


The American Psychological Association style of citation is generally used in courses such as Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Administration of Justice, and Sciences.

How to Cite: Anatomy of a Citation

There are generally two parts to every citation:

1. In-Text Citation:

This is where you place the quote or idea within the body of your paper so readers know exactly which page your quote came from.

Due to the stigma placed on women working in the literary sphere, it is likely that "Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman" (Woolf 49).

2. Bibliographic Citation:

This is the full citation at the end of your paper, usually on a separate Works Cited or References page. This directs readers to the complete source you used to find the information.

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.

How to Cite: Using Quotes

  • Quotes should be integrated into the research paper, not left as stand-alone sentences.
  • Don't add a quote unless it furthers your arguments.
  • Use at least twice as much space explaining the quote as the quote itself takes up.
  • Use quotes to support your ideas, instead of using your ideas to support the information provided by the quote.
  • Read your paper out loud to make sure the quote flows with the rest of the sentence. Change tenses or use brackets as needed.

Quote Formatting Tips

  • Use quotation marks for all direct quotes.
  • Put end punctuation after the final parentheses, outside of the quotes.
  • Use [brackets] as needed to insert or replace words to make quotes flow smoothly.
  • Use ellipses (...) to remove words or portions of the quote.

When To Cite Your Sources

Citation needed:

  • Quoting someone else directly.
  • Paraphrasing or summarizing someone's ideas, data, facts, or opinions.
  • Using an image or data you did not create.

Citation Not Needed:

  • Common knowledge.
  • General information.
  • Data you collected yourself.

Why Cite Sources?

  • Avoid plagiarism, i.e. passing someone else's work off as your own.
  • Give credit to the original creators and researchers.
  • Strengthen your paper's credibility with research from experts in the field.
  • Document sources for future researchers.

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Copyright Infringement vs. Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of passing someone else's work off as one's own without giving them due credit. Regardless of whether a work is freely available or still under strict copyright, credit must still be given to avoid plagiarism. When using a work, always cite the location of the original so others can find and use the resource as well. This includes images found by Google!

Copyright Infringement is the use of someone else's work without their permission beyond the limits of fair use. When you copy a source, you must cite it to avoid plagiarism. However, you haven't avoided copyright infringement unless you also have permission to copy it.

Other Research Paper Resources