Think of a citation as the full name of a resource. A citation usually includes the name of the author(s), the title of the work, the date the work was published, and the name and location of the publisher. Most formatting styles require additional information, but at a minimum, the components of a citation will help a reader pinpoint the exact work to which you are referring.
Your professor will likely ask that you use a specific formatting style. To find sample citations and resources for formatting citations, select the tabs at the top of the page for APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian styles. If you'd like to have your citations created for you, select the RefWorks tab to learn how to create an account, import citations and generate complete bibliographies.
Why do you need to cite? You cite the sources you use or consult to give credit to the original author. To use another's work without providing proper citation is plagiarism.
Besides concerns of stealing another author's work, you cite to:
Using a purchased paper or a friend's paper is an obvious act of deliberate plagiarism. But even with the best intentions, you can plagiarize if you use too much of another person's work. So what's too much?
What is Plagiarism? (n.d.) Retrieved from <http://www.plagiarism.org/resources/webcasts/>
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