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Copyright, Fair Use and Plagiarism: APA Citation Help

Resources explaining and giving samples of intellectual property issues, including the TEACH ACT

Citation Managers

Popular tools to manage your citations.

It is highly recommended that students double-check all citations and formatting produced by citation generators.

APA Formatting and Citation

APA Flash Tutorial

Citing Sources



What's the big deal? Why is it important to cite books, journal articles, web sites. etc when writing a research paper? It's not just about plagiarism! Think of it this way: You're hanging out with your friends and "Joe" someone makes the comment, "The proposed Health Care reforms will cause taxes to increase." Later that evening you lean over to someone and say, "The proposed Health Care reforms will cause taxes to increase." Your friend looks at you and says, "How do you know?" You respond, "Because Joe told me." You have just cited "Joe" as the source of your knowledge. The thing to do at this point is find out where Joe got his information to see if it is a valid statement. This is how scholarship works. Authors build their arguments on the basis of what others have written or said. Scholarship is an ongoing "dialog" and your writing contributes to this dialog.

In a nutshell, all writers must cite material...

  • To reflect the careful & thorough work you have put into locating and exploring your sources.
  • As a courtesy to your reader.
  • To acknowledge those authors who made possible particular aspects of your work. Failure to provide adequate citations constitutes plagiarism.
  • To demonstrate your integrity and skill as a responsible participant in the conversation of scholarship.


Librarians are often asked"How do I cite this book/journal article/web site in my research paper?" There is not one correct way to cite something. Writing guides (commonly referred to as style manuals) provide rules and instruction on research paper composition.

You should use a style manual in order to properly cite materials, set up footnotes or in-text citations, and/or a works cited list (aka: reference list, bibliography.) Here at Wilmington University, the APA Style is used in all classes.