Cite My Sources

Now that you've found some good sources, read and taken notes from them, it is time to cite (or document) your sources.

What is a Citation?

Remember, sources are the materials in which you found the information that you used for your research project. A citation is all of the details that identify each source. 

As you gather information for a research project, write down these details: the authortitlepublishing company, and copyright date of the sources you use. Look at this sample title page to learn where to find that information in a book. If you are using a website, also record the URL (web address) and the date you visited the site. 

You may want to print these MLA citation worksheets to use as you gather information.

When and Why to Cite Your Sources

There are many reasons to cite your sources: 

  • A citation gives credit to the authors or creators who originally researched and published the information. Do not use their information or images as your own. It is called plagiarism when you use someone else's information without giving them credit.
  • You need to give credit when you use an author's exact words and when you summarize or rewrite their ideas.  
  • Helps your readers to find your sources for their own use.
  • Citing sources shows that you did your research and lends authority to your work. That means that you got your ideas from experts, and that makes your argument or case stronger.   

Now watch this Citing Sources video to learn even more about why and how to cite sources:

Citing Sources Video thumbnail

Where are Citations Included in a Paper?

You may be required to give credit for specific ideas or quotation within your paper. This is called an in-text citation, and it lists the author's last name and a page number where the information was found in the source.

In-text citation example:

The use of TikTok has increased heavily in the last several years, especially among teenagers (Hammer 66).

Also, always include an alphabetized list of all of the sources you used in your paper. This is called a bibliography or a works cited list. It provides complete information for each source. 

Full citation example:

Screenshot of a full citation example, citing the same source referenced in the in-text citation example

Here are more citation examples to see the correct formats.

Sample MLA works cited page.

Now or Later?

You can either build your bibliography or works cited page as you use a source, or wait until after you have written your paper. You may want to print the MLA Elementary citation worksheets to use as you gather information. When you are ready, use OSLIS' Citation Maker to easily create the citations with correct formatting. Watch this Using Citation Maker video to learn more about how to use Citation Maker:

Using Citation Maker Video thumbnail


Next => Now that you have cited your sources, it is time to go to the next step of the OSLIS research process: Create.

Educator Content

Here are the Word and PDF versions of the following: