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English 102

This guide will help ENG 102 students understand the research process and find the resources needed for written assignments.

When to Give Credit

When should I give credit for using a source?

To avoid accidental plagiarism, it is important to always credit the original source of the material you are using to make a claim. In all citation styles, this means that you must give credit to the source using an in-text citation (or footnote, if using Chicago Style) and including the source on an a Works Cited, Bibliography, or Reference Page.

You should cite material when it is

  • Quoted directly from the author. Always place quotation marks around direct quotes. This differentiates your words from the words of your source. And, of course, follow this up with a correct in-text citation.
  • Paraphrased. Even if you are using your own words, you have still taken the basic idea from the original author and have applied it to your own paper. To differentiate the paraphrased information from your own ideas, insert an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased information.
  • Summarized. While correctly-written summaries refer to the original source, it is still important to provide an in-text citation so the reader can refer back to the source.
  • A specific figure. While numerical figures do not need to be placed in quotation marks, they are still treated like direct quotes. Follow up immediately with an in-text citation.
  • An image, audio file, or video created by another person. All audiovisual material needs to be cited correctly.

You do not need a citation when

  • You mention something considered to be common knowledge. What is common knowledge?
    • Facts known by a majority of your audience. For example, most people know that the capital of the United States is Washington, DC, or that millions of people died in World War II. And, if the information is not known by the reader, it is easily verifiable. 
    • Widely-accepted statements and other things that are "common sense." It is generally accepted that one should look both ways before crossing the street, for example.
  • You refer to your own experiences.
  • You use audiovisual materials you have created yourself.
  • You report empirical data collected yourself. 

What if I'm not sure if I need to cite my source?

When in doubt, cite the material. It never hurts to give credit. "Common knowledge" varies by audience.

How to Cite Sources in MLA Style

Cover of MLA Handbook

The MLA Handbook, 8th Edition

REF 808.027 M72 2016

The MLA Handbook is the "official" resource to consult for MLA formatting and citation style questions. While there are many web resources that cover the same material (see below), we do have a copy of the handbook in the library for students to use.


Citation Tools