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How to Cite Your Sources

What do I have to cite?

  • Any words or ideas you read in a magazine, journal, newspaper, book, web page, letter, advertisement, government document, or other printed material that are not common knowledge.
  • Any new information you gain through conversations or interviews via phone, email, chatting, or face-to-face.
  • Any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual material you use that was created by anyone other than yourself.
  • Any electronically-available media, including images, audio, video, or other media.

What don't I have to cite?

  • Your own life experiences, observations, and insights.
  • Your own results from labs, personal studies, or field experiments.
  • Your own artwork, digital photographs, video and audio.
  • Common knowledge

What is Common Knowledge?

You do not need to cite every little fact. Everyone knows that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president and that America's Independence Day is July 4. Generally, if you knew a piece of information before you started doing your research, or it is a well-known fact, you do not need to cite it. Nor do you need to cite generally-accepted ideas, such as "Disneyworld is a child’s dream come true" or "teenage pregnancy is a serious problem in the United States."