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MS in Information Systems Library Orientation Guide (2020)

Instructor: Dayton

Using Others' Material

Citation FAQs

When do I need a citation?

You need a citation any time you:

  • make an assertion (state a fact, statistic) that is not common knowledge
  • quote or paraphrase a source
  • borrow an idea

How do I cite something without an author?

First, make sure that there really is no cited author and remember that an organization or agency can be an author. If you can’t find any entity to credit for the publication, use the first 1-3 words of the title of the article, report or webpage, followed by the date, if one is provided. For the reference, start the entry with the title. 

What if my source doesn't have page numbers?

The in-text citation doesn't need a page number unless it's a direct quote. If it is a direct quote, use n.d. instead. For the reference at the end, you can just leave the page numbers off.

How do I cite a webpage?

The first rule is: A URL is not a citation! (By itself, it's not a reference, either.)

If the page explicitly lists an author or has an implicit author that you can deduce from the page (remember that a company or organization can be an author):

        Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of page. Site name. URL

      Organization Name. (Year). Title of page. Site name. URL

If the page has no author:

        Title of page. (Year, Month Date). Site name. Retrieved Month Date, Year, from URL

How do I cite a conversation I had with someone?

From the Purdue OWL APA Guide: "Any communication that cannot be directly retrieved by a reader is  considered 'personal communication.' Emails, phone conversations, text  messages, and social media messages are all examples of personal  communication."

For these, cite the source within the text as a personal communication:

        (B. Smith, personal communication, July 1, 2020)

but do not include it in the reference list at the end.

How do I cite a picture, graphic or chart?

You should cite images the way you would cite anything else from the source you got the image from. Most reports and articles do list a specific author, so the in-text citation would be something like  (Formanski, 2019). Put citation after - or in place of - the caption. See this guide: for more help.

How do I incorporate the sources I find into my paper? Do I have to quote them?

You can incorporate sources in any number of ways, and it is best to strive for variety. Quotes are fine, but it is often better to paraphrase so that you can keep a consistent voice. Include the citation immediately adjacent to the information you're borrowing, even if it occurs in the middle of a sentence:

A report from the New York Times said that x was better than y (Jones, 2020), adding further evidence of a strong market.

In his survey, Talbott (2019) found that 98% of people were uninterested in sardine sundaes.

Note that if the author's name is part of your sentence (like the second example), only the year goes in the parentheses; otherwise, both the author and the year go in the parentheses (like the first example).

Here are a few examples of ways to incorporate quotes and paraphrases, drawn from the Purdue OWL APA Guide: :

  • According to Jones (2020) . . .
  • The work of Jones (2020) indicated that . . .
  • Jones (2020) asserted that . . .
  • Jones (2020) acknowledged that . . .
  • Jones (2020) has drawn attention to the fact that . . .
  • Jones (2020) claimed that . . .
  • As Jones (2020) pointed out. . .
  • As Jones (2020) stated. . .

but many others are possible. Just aim to make a clear, flowing narrative.

Citation and Style Guides

Citation involves properly crediting the authors of information sources used in a paper or presentation. You will need to cite if sources are directly quoted and/or paraphrased or if reading a source contributed to the ideas presented. 

Always cite your sources.

Different disciplines use certain citation styles. Use these Quick Style Guides, the full citation manuals, or ask library staff for citation assistance.


Quick Style Guides


Full Style Manuals