Once you enter high school it’s time to start learning to decipher between your own original ideas and those you get from others. As you explore various subjects, you will read others’ opinions, learn facts and figures and gain an understanding of concepts. The thoughts and perspective you gain from this study is often what you will present in your projects, papers and essays. The key is that you make sure you credit any idea that isn’t yours through what is called “citing your sources.”
It is imperative that you learn how to cite sources within work for several reasons. The following I found in the University of Vermont Libraries, Bailey/Howe Library article, “Why Citations Matter”:
- Gives you credibility
- Avoids plagiarism
- Allows others to refer to your sources for continued study
The above is a perfect example of what exactly citation is. Those dot points I provided were not my original thoughts, so I attributed them to the source I found them from—the Bailey/Howe Library.
There are several methods for citing sources, all of which have their own set of rules. The most notable ones are:
- Associated Press style—“AP Style”
- American Psychological Association style—“APA Style”
- Modern Language Association style—“MLA Style”
These methods address some or all the following:
- Format: How headlines, subheadlines, copy, quotes, etc. are laid out.
- In-text citations: How you attribute content to a source within a paper.
- Bibliography: How you list your sources in a “references” section.
AP style is what news outlets use, as does our own University of Nebraska High School website. This is not the style you should use for your UNHS courses or most of your university courses, unless of course you are studying print journalism! For more details about AP style, visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab.
You will most definitely be required to use APA style when you reach the university. According to APAstyle.org, “APA Style originated in 1929, when a group of psychologists, anthropologists, and business managers convened and sought to establish a simple set of procedures, or style rules that would codify the many components of scientific writing to increase the ease of reading comprehension."
Though there are several seemingly nifty websites that can “automatically” create your APA citations, I suggest you use APAstyle.org and the Purdue Online Writing Lab to ensure you are following the guidelines accurately. Many professors will deduct points from your work if you do not have citations correct.
For UNHS courses, the MLA style is typically the preferred style, but read all instructions to make sure (some may use APA).
According to the Purdue Online Writing Lab: “Using MLA Style properly makes it easier for readers to navigate and comprehend a text by providing familiar cues when referring to sources and borrowed information. Editors and instructors also encourage everyone to use the same format so there is consistency of style within a given field."
For a wonderful overview I suggest, once again, the Purdue Online Writing Lab!
I do not want you to be overwhelmed by the amount of information provided here and within the resources, so here is what you should focus on immediately.
- If you copy anything from an external source word-for-word use quote marks and note the source.
- If you paraphrase an idea from someone else, note the source.
- Include a references list at the conclusion of your project, paper, presentation, etc.
If you have any questions our teachers and I are always available to help you, so don’t hesitate to ask!