Citation Guide

What must I cite?

Anything you write or create that uses or refers to the ideas of another person, including:

  • direct quotations
  • paraphrasing of passages
  • indebtedness to another person for an idea
  • use of another student's work
  • use of your own previous work

You do not need to cite common knowledge. For example, you do not need to cite the fact that Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States, but you would need to cite your source for the number of slaves he inherited from his father.

See Williams Academic Honesty and Honor Code for more information.

What is involved in citing resources correctly?

In most cases, two parts are needed to correctly cite a source:

  1. References to the source within the text of your paper
    Whenever you refer to the work of another person, you must indicate within the text where you got the information. Depending on the citation style you use, this indication within the text may take the form of a footnote [e.g. ¹] or notation within parentheses [e.g. (Walker 21)]. The in-text citation is a marker that points the reader to the complete citation for the source.
  2. A list of works used in your paper
    The final page of your paper is usually a list of resources you cited or consulted. The name of this list varies depending on the citation style you use.

Which citation style should I use?

Use the style recommended by your professor; if none is recommended, choose one of the styles below based on the discipline for your paper, or see if there is a departmental recommendation.

The main styles of citation are:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) for psychology and other social sciences
  • Chicago (University of Chicago Press)
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) for literature, arts, and humanities
  • ACS (American Chemical Society) for chemistry