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This guide introduces you to the basics of MLA, APA, and ASA Style style.

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If you'd like to see a comparison between MLA and APA, check out the PDF attached below. 

What is a Citation?

A research paper includes ideas and facts gathered from other sources. As you write your paper, you will summarize, paraphrase, or quote directly from these sources. The process of acknowledging the sources you use is also known as citing your sources.

Why should you cite? According to the Kentucky Virtual Library, citing your sources:

  • Lends credibility to your work by showing that you worked hard to collect relevant information.
  • Demonstrates the authenticity of your work by showing that you found the information yourself and didn't plagiarize.
  • Enables your readers to locate your information sources so if your professor or another student wants to do research on that same topic, they know where to find those articles.

Every time you quote or paraphrase someone else’s work, you must tell us:

  • who wrote the work
  • what is it called
  • how we can we find a copy

You give us this information in two places:

  1. In the paragraph where you are quoting or paraphrasing. This is called an In-Text Citation because you will put brief information about the work in parentheses.
  2. In the Works Cited or References page at the end of the paper. This is where you put all of the information we need to find a copy of the works you used in your paper.

Citation Video

"Citation: A (Very) Brief Introduction." YouTube, uploaded by libncsu, 23 July 2014,

Get Help

The style guides have been created to help you be as successful as possible on your own. But we all know that sometimes we need help to figure things out. There are two different ways that you can get help with citations:

  1. Free Tutoring where you can sit down with a reference librarian who can assist you with formatting citations correctly. 
  2. Ask a Librarian which is a free service where you can call, text, chat, or email in your questions and a librarian will respond in a timely manner.