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Citing Sources Help Guide

This guide will explain how to correctly use citations to avoid plagiarism, and provide resources to help you cite.


To plagiarize is “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own” (Plagiarizing, 2019).

Plagiarism isn’t always intentional. But whether you meant to or not, you can be severely punished.

To avoid plagiarizing, all you have to do is cite! If you think someone says it perfectly, then quote them and cite it. If you think an idea really furthers your argument, cite it.

However, there are some common mistakes to avoid.

  • Quoting too much - You shouldn’t be quoting a full paragraph or two of someone else’s work. Your professor is interested in seeing your writing. Your sources will support your work and your argument. If you need to quote more than a sentence, consider summarizing or paraphrasing instead.
  • Citing but not quoting (even though it’s word for word) - If you don’t use quotation marks, it’s plagiarism! Make sure that if you are quoting someone else’s work you clearly indicate this, not just be citing, but by quoting.
  • Bad paraphrases - Paraphrasing means putting the idea in your own words; it doesn’t mean changing one or two words of the original text to synonyms. Make sure you are really putting the ideas into your own words, changing the structure of the sentence as well as the language.
  • Incorrect citations - Incorrectly attributing information through an incorrect citation means your citation doesn’t accomplish what it needs to, making it plagiarism.
  • Incomplete citations - If your citation is incomplete, your reader can’t find your original source, meaning the citation doesn’t accomplish what it needs to, and you could be accused of plagiarism.


Plagiarizing. (2019). In Retrieved from​

Academic Honesty Policy

The University’s Code of Student Conduct states that plagiarism is academic misconduct. To read the full definition set forth, as well as the sanctions that could be applied for misconduct, please see the Code of Student Conduct.