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Citing Your Sources   Tags: ama, apa, citation, mla  

Citation help in APA, MLA, and other less common styles.
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Getting Started Print Page

"Why must I cite?" you ask!

What is it?  A citation identifies for your readers the original source from which you plucked an idea, image, or other information that now resides in your own research paper, web site, or other work.  You must cite the following:

  • A direct quote taken verbatim from another source
  • Any source you paraphrase, summarize, or from which you obtained ideas
  • Ideas or facts that are not common knowledge

A basic citation includes the author(s), title, publication date, page numbers, and other "bibliographic" elements arranged in a particular order.

Why do it?

  • Give yourself some credit.  When you cite, you show evidence of your own research and hard work.
  • Give credit to others (and avoid plagiarism).  When you incorporate ideas and information from other authors--whether through direct quotes or paraphrasing--be fair by acknowledging their work.
  • Become part of the chain of scholarship.  Contribute to your readers' own research process by giving them the opportunity to follow up on your source material.



APA emphasizes currency within the literature by using an author-date format for both in-text citations and end of paper references.  This format is popular in those disciplines where the date of the work--that is, its currency--is material to the discipline, for example psychology, sociology, education, health, and technology.  In contrast, MLA de-emphasizes currency by placing the date of a work towards the end of the citation.  It is used widely in the humanities,for example writing, English, literature, and history, where currency is not as relevant.

Visual learner? Click on the pdf document below to "see" the difference between the most popular citation styles!


Need more help?

The PVCC Library has several books that address citing, grammar, and the writing process.  Search the Library Catalog using keywords like citing. You can also call or visit the Library's Information Desk where Faculty Librarians are happy to assist you or log on to Ask A Librarian to chat with a reference librarian 24/7!

The Learning Support Center offers tutoring services including the Writing Center where you can receive one-on-one assistance.


Ask a Librarian 24/7

Get answers to all your research, citation, directional questions here! Our free, 24/7 service allows you to chat with a real live librarian. 



Citations from Library Databases

Library databases provide sample citations for articles in MLA format. They are not 100% accurate, but they do save you time and effort in typing up a citation, and they tend to get the basic pieces in the correct order. 

As you are searching the databases and find articles you like, look for icons like this: 


Then, click on those links or icons to view an MLA formatted citation. Copy and paste into your Work Cited list, and edit as needed.


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