What is Citing and Referencing?

Citing is when you refer the reader to the source of the information you are quoting, paraphrasing or summarizing. This generally takes the form of intext citations, but can also be footnotes or endnotes in certain referencing styles.

Referencing is the list of works you have cited; Reference List, Works Cited List or Bibliography, usually found at the end of your work. The format of your references is usually very similar, but there are specific differences between all of the referencing styles.

The most important aspect of citing and referencing is to be consistent. Do Not Change Referencing Styles – Keep the Same Style Throughout Your Document!

MLA8 – APA – Chicago…

The information on this page is designed to help you with the basic expectations for citing and referencing using MLA8, APA or Chicago referencing styles. Your teachers will tell you which style is appropriate for each subject and task, however this is a rough guide to which styles work best for which subject areas:

  • MLA8 – Language, Literature, Philosophy, Theatre, I&S
  • APA – Business, Education, Psychology, Sciences
  • Chicago – Art, Computer Science, History, Music, Business

The resources toward the end of the page are recommended to help you further research and understand more complex uses for each of the different styles.

Why are citations important?

According to the IB, “Proper citation is a key element in academic scholarship and intellectual exchange. When we cite we:

  • show respect for the work of others
  • help a reader to distinguish our work from the work of others who have contributed to our work
  • give the reader the opportunity to check the validity of our use of other people’s work
  • give the reader the opportunity to follow up our references, out of interest
  • show and receive proper credit for our research process
  • demonstrate that we are able to use reliable sources and critically assess them to support our work
  • establish the credibility and authority of our knowledge and ideas
  • demonstrate that we are able to draw our own conclusions
  • share the blame (if we get it wrong)” (“Effective Citing and Referencing.”, 2)


Copyright laws change from country to country and can be very confusing.

Even though you are still at school, copyright law can still affect you in the future. Schools are governed by the “fair use” rule, however these 5 rules will help you:

  1. Just because you found it online does not mean it’s free to use – even for teachers and students
  2. Many resources you can use freely – look for materials that have a Creative Commons license or is in the public domain (no longer subject to copyright)
  3. Every creator has the right to have their work and ideas protected from copying
  4. If you’re not sure, ask the creator for permission, find a free alternative, make your own material, or purchase an alternative that has the usage rights you are after.
  5. Don’t look for loopholes or dodges. Consider whether you’re being the most responsible and ethical digital citizen you can be (Morris)

For more information about copyright, go to this website.

How to avoid plagiarism.

Quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing are three main ways to fairly and honestly include, integrate and refer to others’ work within your own. In other words – great ways to avoid plagerism!


Quoting is reproducing an author’s words from a source – the exact wording, spelling, punctuation etc. This adds emphasis and weight to an argument.

To correctly integrate a quote you should:

  • Use a signal phrase to indicate that a quote is being used. For example:
    • According to Jones…
  • Providing commentary or further exploring the quote.
  • Include quotation marks.
  • Cite and reference it in the appropriate style.


Paraphrasing is incorporating ideas from another source using your own words. This enables you to demonstrate your understanding and interpretation of the original idea in relation to your topic.

To correctly paraphrase you should:

  • Rewrite, reorder, rephrase and underline key points from the original source
  • Use a signal phrase to indicate you have incorporated work from another source. For example:
    • Jones states … As indicated by Jones…
  • Cite and Reference in the appropriate style.


Summarizing is expressing the main ideas and concepts from another source, without including details. Summaries are short and concise.

To correctly summarize you should:

  • Use signal phrases to remind the reader that you are referring to someone else’s work. For example:
    • Jones states… Jones further indicates…
  • Cite and reference in the appropriate style.

Resource Trackers

A resource tracker is a data grid that enables you to collect and sort the details of your resources as you find them. They can also be used for note taking and organization.

We highly recommend that you use this NIST Resource Tracker.

Citing and Referencing – what you need to include

Citing should be done whenever you borrow words or ideas, use quotes, paraphrase, make specific reference to another person’s ideas, or when someone else’s work has influenced or helped you to develop your own ideas.

Any source that you cite in your work must be fully referenced in the Reference List at the end of your paper.

Each style of citing has its own rules for in-text citations, however there are certain pieces of information you will need to include in your citations and references:

  • Author’s name – always double check the spelling
  • The title of the article, journal, book, database, website etc, including volume or issue numbers
  • The publisher’s details
  • Publication date or the latest date the material was updated
  • For websites you will also need to include the date you last accessed the site and the URL

The Basics

Click on these links to access basic guidelines for citing and referencing in each style.

These websites will help guide you through the more complex issues involved with creating your own citations and references:

Purdue Owl

Online Writing Lab at Purdue University

MLA Style Center

Companion to the MLA Handbook

APA Style

American Psychological Society website

Chicago Manual of Style

Citation Quick Guide


Style guides for APA, MLA and Chicago

IB - International Baccalaureate

Citing and Referencing by The IB

Online Referencing Tools

These are just some of the many open access online tools that will help you to cite and reference your sources.


MLA, APA, Chicago +


MLA, APA and Chicago + available with subscription


MLA, APA, Chicago +

Citation Machine

MLA, APA, Chicago +


MLA, APA, Chicago

For more information or if you have questions, see your teacher-librarian!