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Writing & Composition

This Guide will show you where to look for useful writing, researching & composition information.

What Is a Citation & Why Cite?

A citation tells the reader where to find the source of the words or ideas in your text.

Why should you cite your sources?

  1. To show your evidence—it makes your paper stronger & shows that you did research
  2. To give credit where it is due—shows respect for others’ intellectual property, their words & ideas
  3. To provide “breadcrumbs”--helps others find your evidence & check to see if they agree that it supports your argument

Want more? The Pierce Library's Copyright and Fair Use guide can help.

Which Sources Need To Be Cited?

When you quote or paraphrase someone else's words or ideas, you need to provide a citation.

You do not need to cite:

  • Common knowledge ("there are seven days in a week" or "the sky is blue")
  • Your own opinion

But you DO need to provide citations for the facts and opinions you borrow from others.

Want more? (See the How to Cite box on the left, and links below.)

Copyright and Fair Use (Pierce Library)
Plagiarism (Pierce Library)

What Type of Source Is It?

In order to cite a source, you need to know what kind of item it is. Test your knowledge here! "Which Is Which?"

Check with a librarian to see if you got it right.

How to Cite

Style guides, like the MLA's (Modern Language Association) and APA's (American Psychological Association), explain how to format your written work and how to cite your references.