Skip to Main Content

Help Guide

About Citing

Citing a source shows your reader or audience that you've used words, ideas, images, etc. from another place. Citations are a standardized way of communicating where you got your material and are often found in bibliographies, a reference list at the end of as school paper or footnotes in an article or book. Citation style guides determine how you write a citation. Common styles include MLA, APA, Chicago Manual of Style and Turabian. 

​Citing sources you used in your research is important for a few reasons: 

To show your audience you've done proper research by listing sources you used to get your information
To give proper credit to other researchers and acknowledging their ideas
To avoid plagiarism by quoting words and ideas used by other authors
To allow your audience to find the sources you used 

How to Cite Primary & Secondary Resources

Secondary sources interpret or analyze a topic and are written after the time period being studied and include articles, books and websites.  Consult these online style guides for examples of citing.

Examples of how to cite secondary sources from The Purdue Online Writing Lab:  MLA | APA | Chicago

Primary sources can be documents, creative works, recordings or artifacts created at the time period being researched.  Examples include photographs, letters, diaries, newspaper articles, etc.

Once you’ve chosen a primary source useful to your research, you’ll need to cite it in your paper or project so others know where you got your information. How you cite an item from an archival collection can depend on the citation style you’re using, the preference of your teacher, or the subject discipline you’re studying.  Much of the citation information you’ll need can be found in the catalog record for an item provided by the institution that owns it.

Examples of how to cite primary sources from the The Purdue Online Writing Lab: MLA, APA and Chicago and  Library of Congress MLA | Chicago

Some typical items included in most citations can be found in the catalog record or finding aid for a primary source and include:

Document: Author, title, page, section, date.

Box and file number:  Many primary sources are kept in archival boxes labeled by collection and numbered for easy reference. Some boxes are further divided into files.

Repository: The name of the institution where the primary source is held such as a museum, library or archive.