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HIST: History: Citing Sources

Why Cite

Through research, you will gather information that supports your ideas, which you find in sources created by others. A citation gives your reader the information needed to locate these works. Citing these sources is important because:

  • it shows your professor that you actually did research on your topic and gained new knowledge
  • anyone reading your work can check to see if they agree with your interpretation of the information
  • acknowledging other people's ideas is academically honest and helps you avoid plagiarism

If you don't credit the authors of your sources by citing them in your paper, you are committing plagiarism, which is not acceptable at Northampton Community College.

Resources to Help You with Citations

Citation Handouts from the NCC Libraries and Learning Centers
Other resources

Check Your Professor's Instructions First!

If your professor has given specific instructions about the citation style you should use or how citations should be formatted for their assignments, always follow those instructions. 

When to Cite

You need to cite:

  • anytime you use someone else's ideas
  • when you summarize or paraphrase text from a source
  • when you directly quote information that you took from a source 
  • if the information is highly debatable

You don’t need to cite your own opinions and insight, and you don’t need to cite facts that are common knowledge (information repeated in multiple sources that is widely known or accepted as a fact).

When in doubt, it's best to cite.

How to Cite

Each discipline and area of study has a citation style or guide that outlines citation rules for writing in that area of study. 

Citation styles differ in regards to formatting and the details of how source information appears, but much of the information required for the citations is the same.

For most citation styles, there are two aspects that work together: 

  • in-text citations (sometimes known as parenthetical citations) within the paper
  • a list of sources known as Works Cited, References, or Bibliography at the end of the paper

The citation styles you'll most likely encounter at NCC are MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), and the Chicago Manual of Style

If You Use a Citation Generator

No online citation tool or software is perfect. They can find the wrong information for the source you are using. If you enter incorrect information or do not include some information, then the citation they create will be incorrect.

The library's databases may provide a citation for a source you find in them, but this should only be used as a starting point. They may not be entirely accurate, either. They often include too much information or are formatted incorrectly (they might be missing hanging indents, italicization, or double-spacing).

It is up to you to check the accuracy of your citations before submitting research papers or other class assignments. ‚Äč