College writing often requires you to cite others' ideas while acknowledging all your sources. The term, plagiarism, refers to  not acknowledging  another individual’s work. This definition of plagiarism covers both blatant and unintentional misuse of other people's ideas. Plagiarism is considered academic misconduct and can carry severe consequences.

You should NOT ...

1)    copy from your source material without providing quotation marks and without crediting the source.

2)    improperly paraphrase materials or use others' original ideas without properly introducing and documenting them in your work.

Remember that another author’s ideas, interpretations, and words are not yours but his or her property; they are, in fact, protected by law and must be acknowledged whenever you borrow them. Your own ideas, interpretations, and words are also your property; they also are protected.

Basic Citation Rules and Example
Always keep in mind that different academic disciplines have different methods for documenting sources. If you are unsure about which particular guidelines you should be following, ask your professor or adviser. If you have additional citation questions, Purdue Owl is a great online resource which can address your MLA or APA concerns. The CSTW Writing Center also has handouts on some of these different styles, such as MLA and APA. Feel free to ask a writing consultant for a handout on-site or you can access them online at our website under the section titled "Writing Resources".

Acknowledge borrowed material within your text by surrounding this material with quotation marks if you are using it exactly as it appears in the publication or electronic source.

Take APA style for example.

    Short quotation:

According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time" (p. 199).

   Long quotation:

Jones's (1998) study found the following: Students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time citing sources. This difficulty could be attributed to the fact that many students failed to purchase a style manual or to ask their teacher for help. (p. 199)

If you are summarizing rather than directly quoting material, give credit by introducing your summary with the name of author (or publication/electronic source if no author is identified).

Enclose all quoted materials within quotation marks. When using a quotation, use ellipses to show where you have omitted any words or sentences from the original text.

Example: According to Jones (1998), "Students often had difficulty using APA style..." (p. 199).

If you need to make any changes to direct quotations for clarity or in order to maintain grammatical agreement, use [brackets]. For example, when adapting the statement "I studied them for weeks" you may choose to write it as: Smith states that "[he] studied [the participants] for weeks".

Make sure that paraphrased or summarized material is rewritten into your own style and language. It is not acceptable to merely rearrange the sentence structure or substitute a few new words or phrases without citing the original works. Instead, synthesize the information so that readers understand you are discussing or reporting about another person's work, rather than merely repeating it. After synthesizing the information, remember to have in-text citations to give credit to the original works. In the page of Works Cited (MLA style) or References (APA style), make a bibliographic entry for every book, journal, website, and other source of information that you reference in your paper.


OWL Purdue online writing Lab. (2014). In-text citations: The basics. Retrieved from