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Guide to APA and Chicago citation for LS 102 students: About citation

To cite means...

To cite simply means to point to the evidence. You probably cite regularly in your daily life. I just did it today talking to a friend: "I was listening to a podcast this morning, and they said..." This is an example of an informal citation. Maybe you have stated a piece of information and your friend asks, "Where did you hear that?" Your friend is asking you to point to the evidence; they are asking you for a citation for the information you just passed along. So, citation is not a strange thing that we never do - we are just asked to do it differently when we are in an academic reading "The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion." a quote by Paulo Coelho

In your research-based writing projects your instructors ask you to explore a question through the use of work that other people have done. When you write about that exploration (your paper), you will use information from those other works to inform and illustrate your own ideas in that paper. Each time you include information from those other works, you need to "point to the evidence": you need to provide a citation to that work.

In the case of your papers, you need to follow a formal citation system so that it is easier for your reader to understand where your information came from. (And in the case of your instructors, if they have 52 papers to grade, it is much easier for them to evaluate your work if all 52 of those papers use the same formal citation system, and not all 52 students making their own up!)

This guide is about citation generally, and about APA and Chicago style citations specifically.

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Why we cite

Click on the green arrow inside the box to listen to the tutorial, or see the full screen tutorial by clicking the link at the bottom.

Source: "Why you need to cite sources tutorial," Lane Community College, Cooperative Library Instruction Project

What does "citing" mean? (APA being used as the model)

A Quick Look at the Two Parts of a Citation

  1. The brief in-text citation lets your reader know where the information in your paper came from, as you are using it. Usually, this means the author(s) and year.
  2. The full References citation is on a separate References page, letting your reader know, in detail, where to find that source.

Below is an example of how the two citation pieces fit together in APA style:

The In-Text Citation

Gordon and Cui (2015) found compelling evidence suggesting that a person’s career outcomes in adulthood are more of a product of the quality of their childhood relationships with their parent(s), or other adult guardians, rather than the quality of the education they received.


Gordon, M. S., & Cui, M. (2015). Positive parenting during adolescence and career success in young adulthood. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(3), 762-771.

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