Citation Formatting Tools
Citation managers are software that keep track of your sources and automatically format your citations in a variety of styles.
This tab contains citation guidelines and examples in both APA and MLA style formats, along with links to other styles and resources on citation styles. The style you should use is usually determined by the discipline or course in which you are working. Ask your instructor what style s/he requires or recommends.
Why Cite Sources? Avoiding plagiarism is the most obvious reason; it also helps you back up your arguments with credible evidence and allows others to track down the same resources.
Before turning in your paper, check for these common citation errors:
- Is the list of sources alphabetized?
- Are titles capitalized and/or underlined as required?
- Is spacing and indenting correct?
- Is proper punctuation used?
What is Plagiarism?
To plagiarize means to:
- Steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own;
- Use (another's production) without crediting the source;
- Commit literary theft;
- Present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.
(Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definition of "plagiarize," retrieved June 20, 2005)
CSUN Policy on Plagiarism
The following definition of plagiarism is excerpted from the California State University Northridge Catalog, 2016-2017.
Intentionally or knowingly representing the words, ideas or work of another as one’s own in any academic exercise. Comments:
- Direct Quotation: Every direct quotation must be identified by quotation marks, by appropriate indentation or by other means of identification and must be promptly cited in a footnote. Proper footnote style for any academic department is outlined by the “MLA Style Sheet” or K. L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations. These and similar publications are available in the Matador Bookstore and at the reference desk of the Oviatt Library.
- Paraphrase: Prompt acknowledgment is required when material from another source is paraphrased or summarized in whole or in part in your own words. To acknowledge a paraphrase properly, one might state: “to paraphrase Locke’s comment . . .’’ and conclude with a footnote identifying the exact reference. A footnote acknowledging only a directly quoted statement does not suffice to notify the reader of any preceding or succeeding paraphrased material.
- Borrowed Facts or Information: Information obtained in one’s reading or research that is not common knowledge among students in the course must be acknowledged. Examples of common knowledge might include the names of leaders of prominent nations, basic scientific laws, etc.
Materials that contribute only to one’s general understanding of the subject may be acknowledged in the bibliography and need not be immediately footnoted. One footnote is usually sufficient to acknowledge indebtedness when a number of connected sentences in the paper draw their special information from one source. When direct quotations are used, however, quotation marks must be inserted and prompt acknowledgment is required.
- APA Quick Guide (PDF) by Eric Garcia
- APA Style Guide (PDF) by Eric Garcia
- Citing Archival Materials in APA
- Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (print version)
- *NEW MLA Style Guide 8th Edition (PDF) by Jamie Johnson
- MLA Style - Quick Guide 7th Edition (PDF) by Eric Garcia
- MLA Style Guide 7th Edition (PDF) by Eric Garcia
- Citing Archival Materials in MLA
- MLA handbook for writers of research papers 8th Ed (print)
- MLA handbook for writers of research papers 7th Ed (print)
Images and Copyright
Remember that images that you did not create are subject to copyright rules. Obtain permission from the copyright holder or use resources from the public domain.
Creating an Annotated Bibliography
What is an annotated bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is a list of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) with short paragraph about each source. An annotated bibliography is sometimes a useful step before drafting a research paper, or it can stand alone as an overview of the research available on a topic.
Each source in the annotated bibliography has a citation - the information a reader needs to find the original source, in a consistent format to make that easier. These consistent formats are called citation styles. The most common citation styles are MLA (Modern Language Association) for humanities, and APA (American Psychological Association) for social sciences.
Annotations are about 4 to 6 sentences long (roughly 150 words), and address:
- Main focus or purpose of the work
- Usefulness or relevance to your research topic
- Special features of the work that were unique or helpful
- Background and credibility of the author
- Conclusions or observations reached by the author
- Conclusions or observations reached by you
Annotations versus abstracts
Many scholarly articles start with an abstract, which is the author's summary of the article, to help you decide whether you should read the entire article. This abstract is not the same thing as an annotation. The annotation needs to be in your own words, to explain the relevance of the source to your particular assignment or research question.
How to Cite Articles
- Determine which citation style to use; the two most commonly used at CSUN are MLA and APA. If your professor didn't specify, pick one and use it consistently.
- Check the sample style sheets (MLA or APA) to see what information the article citation should contain and how it should be formatted.
- Be sure to indicate where material you quoted directly or paraphrased came from.
For more information, see Citing Your Sources - Plagiarism.