How do I know when to cite something?

Picture writing in the rainAdd a note citing a source (1) whenever you write something that isn’t common knowledge and (2) whenever you quote someone else’s exact words or paraphrase information you took from them.

You have to use your own judgment on whether a fact needs backing up or not. If you can imagine the reader asking “Says who?” or “How do you know that?” you should add a note. If you write that Abraham Lincoln was an American president, you probably don’t need to cite a source. But if you write that Emperor Gaozu of Tang was the first leader of the Chinese Tang dynasty, you’d better tell where you learned it.

Your source citation of a book, website, article, or dictionary shows that an expert backs up your statement and tells the reader how to find the same facts.

Here’s a one-page tip sheet on when to cite: When to Quote, Paraphrase, or Summarize.

And another one: Three Principles for Citing Sources.

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#ChicagoStyle for Students
Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, written specifically for students, covers every aspect of research paper writing, from thinking up a topic to submitting the paper in official Chicago format. Turabian’s guidelines are compatible with The Chicago Manual of Style.

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