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Honors College: Managing and Citing Information

Resources to assist you in maximizing your college experience

Citing Your Articles

Citing your sources correctly is the right thing to do because...

  •  you give credit to people who did research before you
  •  your readers may want to follow-up and track down some of your original sources
  •  it helps you avoid plagiarism, a form of academic dishonesty, which is “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work” (

Step One: Take good notes as you do your research

  • If you cut 'n' paste text, be sure to: 
    • put quotation marks around any works that you pull directly from another source
    • transfer the information about where the text came from as you go, for example cut 'n' paste the URL of the web site, and list the author, title, journal, etc. right below the text that you copied
  • Keep all the research you collect in one place
  • Write citations as you go

Step Two: Select the citation style you are going to use

  • Use the citation style recommended or required by your professor (typically APA, MLA, or Chicago)
  • If the citation style is left up to you, use the one that is recommended for your discipline
  • Stay consistent, using only one citation style throughout your project

Step Three: Decide when you need to cite

  • Have you quoted something directly?
  • Have you paraphrased another person's idea?
  • Every time you cite something within the text of your paper, there should be a corresponding entry in the References / Works Cited list

Step Four: Carefully follow the rules of the citation / style guide

  • Rules apply to indentation, alphabetization, punctuation, capitalization, abbreviations, element order, using full names or initials, etc.
  • Example citations are listed in each of the style guide to be used as models
  • If you are citing something unusual, provide enough information to track down the original source, following the same general rules of punctuation, capitalization, etc. 

Step Five: Be consistent and proofread

  • Watch for the little things - those little things are what make a citation style unique
  • Have a detail-oriented friend proofread with you to help catch things you may miss
  • If you have used "machine-generated" citations, you need to "human-proofread" those citations to make sure they are following the current rules, and so they are consistent with the rest of your citations.

Online Citation Builders

The following online sites help you build a citation in a variety of formats, including APA.

(Note: Accuracy of citations created using the following online citation building tools may vary; always compare these tool-created citations with the print manuals for both the MLA and APA styles.)


  • Citation Machine
  • KnightCite Citation Creator



Evaluating Information

Google Web Search

Fact or Fiction? Don't be fooled!

 If you are going to use the web, you will have to evaluate what you find by using the CRAAP test criteria.  The CRAAP test is a list of questions to assist you in evaluating the information that you find.

Evaluation Criteria

Currency: the timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted
  • Does the topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Has the information been revised or updated
  • Are the links functional

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e..., not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on this topic
  • Is there contrast information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source, examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language tone seem unbiased and free from emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information?
  • Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?


Research Paper Suggestions



NOTE: Follow MLA documentation style for all papers, posters, and Power point presentations unless instructed to use another style of documentation. Each slide or page where borrowed material is used requires internal citations. A Works Cited slide at the end will not suffice.

  • You should have a mix of scholarly books and articles for most research papers. Some professors will require that sources not be more than 5 years old, 10 years, etc.

  • DO NOT use Wikipedia.

  • Use only specialized, discipline-specific encyclopedias, not general ones such as Britannica or Gale Reference Library.

  • Use discipline-appropriate indexes! This is the key to good results.

  • Do not use Google, Yahoo, Bing or other general search engines to search directly for sources. You need to use the proper index or indexes. On the Library webpage, go to Databases A-Z.

  • Be very wary of unsigned websites.

  • Remember that a research paper must be an original contribution to knowledge. Do not simply rehash things other people have said. Interviews may help you add original insights. If you use a survey, you may need to get it cleared by a University committee.

  • Use the note card method to take notes and record the data for your internal citations and Works Cited. (See Dr. Laws for further explanation.)There are also electronic ‘note cards’ you can use.

  • As a general rule, introduce all direct quotations in your paper and, OF COURSE, cite them properly. Use quotation marks carefully. If a quote is more than 4 lines long, then use block quotation. When you block quote, you remove the quotation marks because the blocking itself indicates that you’re quoting.

  • Never run direct quotations back to back. If this occurs, you’re doing something wrong.

  • When you paraphrase, you should also introduce your sources.You must, of course, also document (cite) paraphrased materials!

  • Good paraphrasing means getting someone else’s idea into your own words. Don’t just change things a little bit or shift the word order. Digest the idea and make it your own. Then paraphrase it entirely. If you need to retain key words or phrases, then quote those smaller bits directly. Poor paraphrasing can lead to plagiarism. Be careful! Defend your honor as a scholar!

  • As a rule, you should only use direct quotation for highly distinctive material. Most of the time, you should be summarizing and paraphrasing.

  • Comment extensively on all quoted material. The longer the quotation, the more analysis and commentary are needed.

  • Remember to always document (cite) statistics or numbers of any kind.

  • If you use a photo, graph or figure, you must document that, as well.

  • The quotation marks go before the parenthetical citation. The period goes after the parenthetical citation.No comma is needed in between the author’s name and the page number in MLA style.

  • Do not use first person unless absolutely necessary (e.g. to recount a portion of an interview or to relate a relevant anecdote).

  • Turn in everything on time.

  • Realize that ALL WRITING ERRORS will negatively impact your grade. Be particularly wary of the following common errors: fragments, comma splices, fused (=run-on) sentences; subject/ verb agreement errors; shifts in person, number, tense, etc.; errors with possessives.

    Dr. Page Laws