Citing Sources

Papers and projects often require research. That means you’ll be consulting the experts through books, articles, images, websites, interviews, and more. When you use other people’s information, it’s important to give them credit. That’s where documentation—citing your sources—comes in. To avoid plagiarism, and give credit where credit is due, you will need to follow a few rules. We have you covered with great resources that make citing simpler.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is taking someone else’s ideas or words and using them as your own, without giving credit to the originator. For an overview of plagiarism please see the tutorial Me? Plagiarize? (used by permission!) from the Hartness Library at Vermont Technical College.

Many people don’t realize that simply restating something in your own words is not enough. You still need to show where you got your ideas from. Along with references within the assignment itself, citations officially give credit to those whose thoughts or words you’ve used.

Citations include author, title, publication information, and anything else needed to help others find the original source.

Why is it important to cite your resources?

  • To acknowledge borrowed words and ideas.
  • So the reader can track down your sources for themselves.
  • To demonstrate that you are aware of sources that are relevant to your topic.
  • To strengthen your arguments with information from experts.
  • Because failing to give credit is considered plagiarism, and NECI’s policy on Academic Honesty prohibits plagiarism.

How do I properly use information from the sources I’ve found?

You’ve done your research. Now how do you use the information you’ve found, while making sure to give credit to the original authors? Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing are three ways to incorporate others’ ideas and thoughts into your own work without plagiarizing.


Quoting is taking text from a source, strictly word for word from the original, and placing it into your own document. When quoting, you must credit the original author.


Paraphasing is restating information from a source using your own words. When you paraphrase, you demonstrate your personal understanding of the material. You still must give credit to the creator of the original information.


Summarizing is putting the main ideas or key points from a source into your own words. Summaries are shorter than the original work and take an overarching view. As with quotations and paraphrasing, you need to acknowledge what source(s) your summary is based on.


Grammarly is a service that checks your writing for grammar errors and for plagiarism. To use, go to the link above and create an account using your NECI email address. You can either upload or copy and paste your writing to the Grammarly site.

Creating a "Works Cited"

NECI classes require use of the MLA (Modern Language Association) style guide for writing research papers and creating a Works Cited at the end of your assignment.
There are several free citation tools available to help you keep track of your sources and create a Works Cited in the MLA style.
Here are some resources on MLA style and how to manually create a Works Cited list:

Purdue's OWL (Online Writing Lab) provides guides to writing and creating citations
MLA Style Guide: writing resources from the Modern Language Association
MLA Documentation Guide from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Library recommends that you consult the published style manuals for clarification and additional assistance. These can be checked out from the NECI Library:

A Pocket Style Manual: Third Edition, by Diana Hacker – call # 808.02 H118p
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (New York: MLA) – call # 808.02 M72m

Citation Tools

Create a free account; this site can format citations for you in MLA style and will compile a bibliography.

EasyBib the app
A free iPhone app that allows you to scan a book’s physical barcode with your camera phone and have a citation created for you. As you are doing your work, you can scan barcodes and then email the citations to yourself.

Citation features in Word
Create your bibliogrphay, citations and references while you're work in Word document.  A step-by-step guide is available through Florida Gulf Coast University.

A free download used with the Firefox web browser that helps you collect, manage, and cite your research sources.


Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you're still not sure whether you are citing material correctly or even if you need to, keep in mind that it is always best to err on the side of caution and cite too often or too much.
If you are facing the stress of a looming due date and plagiarism seems the only way to get your work in on time, stop and remember there are alternatives to plagiarism.

Take Advantage of the Resources Available to You

Talk to your instructor.
Ask your instructor for advice about citations and plagiarism. Consider how voicing your questions about these issues during class can give other students the gumption to speak up and share their own thoughts.

If you need more time on a particular assignment, contact your instructor and request an extension — they’re human too! At worst, the instructor will not grant the extension, but even so, a poor grade is a better result than disciplinary action. If you are found responsible for academic dishonesty, sanctions may range from disciplinary probation to suspension, and sometimes even expulsion.

Contact the NECI Library.
Don’t forget that the NECI Library is here to help you, too. Along with helping you to find good sources, we can also help you find information about correctly citing those sources. Send us an email, call us (x3345) or stop by School Street.