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Theater & Performing Arts Research Guide

Citing Your Sources

What is citation and why is citing so important?

Citation is a formal process of giving credit to the sources you are using in your academic work.

Citing your sources is important for many reasons, but these may be the most important:

  • It’s the simplest way to avoid plagiarism.
  • It allows your readers to follow-up on sources of interest to them.
  • It reaffirms your role as a student-scholar by demonstrating your ability to engage in academic conversations.


How do I cite my sources?

1. Gather Your Sources

First, pay attention and keep track of the sources you are reading and may use in your paper. In order to properly cite a source, you will need to gather all of the source’s identifying information, such as: author(s), title(s) of source, date of publication, volume/issue number, edition, page numbers, date of publication, etc.

2. Format Your Citations

Next, you will need to use a style guide to format your citations. Each academic discipline has their own set of “official” formatting rules for writing and presenting research. These rules are outlined in books called style guides or publication manuals.

These are the most commonly used "styles" here at ELAC:

  • MLA: The Modern Language Association sets the rules for the English and Humanities disciplines. The most current style guide is the MLA Handbook, 8th edition (see image).  
  • APA: The American Psychological Association sets the rules for Psychology papers, but APA style is commonly used in other social science disciplines as well. The most current guide is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition.
  • Chicago: The Chicago Manual of Style is most often used in History and the Arts. This style uses footnotes instead of in-text citations.

Keep in mind, there are many, many styles out there! ASA, CSE, and Turabian are just a few more styles that are used here at ELAC. Always ask your professor which style you should be using to cite your sources. ELAC Libraries have copies of these official style guides, but there are many resources freely available online as well. Our favorites are Purdue OWL and Excelsior OWL.

What Is Plagiarism?

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s words, ideas, or creations without giving them proper credit.


What are some common examples of plagiarism?

  • Turning in work you did not complete yourself (e.g. turning in a paper you found online or turning in an essay someone else wrote for you).
  • Taking a quote from a source, re-writing it in your own words, and NOT giving credit to the original author.
  • Using an image (graph, chart, picture, etc.) you found online or in a book and NOT giving credit to the original source.
  • Turning in a paper you wrote in one class to a different professor for a different class. (Yes, self-plagiarism is still plagiarism!)


What are the consequences if a student is caught plagiarizing?

  • You may fail the assignment or the entire class.
  • You may be expelled or removed from college.
  • Your academic reputation will be tarnished.


How do I avoid plagiarizing?

The simplest way to avoid plagiarism is to always give credit to the authors and sources you are using in your work. In academia, we call this process “citing.” Keep notes on where you are finding your information while you are doing class readings or your own independent research. Make sure every source you use in your paper is fully and properly cited.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism.YouTube, uploaded by on 13 Sept. 2018.