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ENGL 151R: Report Writing (+ Business Plans): Citing Sources

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. 

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.

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.

Resources to Help You with Citations

Citation Handouts from the NCC Libraries and Learning Centers

Other resources

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