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Citing Sources: Getting Started

This guide provides an overview of how to cite sources in scholarly bibliographies, including the APA, Chicago, MLA, ASA, and science styles.

Introduction to Citing Sources

Introduction to Citing Sources

Why should I cite my sources?

All research sources should be identified and cited in your research report/paper whether they are print resources or electronic articles or Web sites or classroom notes.  Not only does it enable others, as well as yourself, to find the source listed, but it also gives credit to the person whose work you quoted or paraphrased, or whose ideas you incorporated into your own report. 

When you do research for a paper, write down all the necessary information needed to locate the material in a citation format. When accessing Internet resources, be sure to WRITE DOWN the URL. Another option is to use RefWorks.

What style guide should I be using for my research?

There are different citation styles depending on your field of study:

  • Humanities/Fine Arts:  Modern Language Association (MLA) or Chicago Style, depending on the requirements of your instructor.
  • Social Sciences:  American Psychological Association (APA) or American Sociological Association (ASA)
  • Business:  Either APA or MLA, depending on the requirements of your instructor.
  • Sciences:  There are several formats depending on your specific field of study.  The major one is the Council of Science Editors (CSE). Check out the Science tab for other options.

What is the difference between footnotes, endnotes, and notes within the text?

When you are quoting or making a reference to information directly from another source, you must always identify that source. You do this in a note. Notes are called Footnotes when they appear at the bottom of the page and Endnotes when they are collected at the end of each chapter or of the entire paper.  Frequently notes are cited within the text of your paper. Some citation styles only use Notes Within the Text.

What is Zotero?

Zotero [Zoh-TAIR-roh] is a free citation manager that collects, organizes, cites, and shares your sources. 

  • Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux
  • Zotero collects research materials in a single place - add PDFs, images, audio and video files, and more 
  • Automatically format bibliographies in the citation style of your choice

WARNING:  Since Zotero uses the information that it gets from databases and Web sites, the final version may be incorrect (i.e. missing information or in the wrong order).  You still need to know how to do the specific citing style that you are using.

Resources covering multiple styles

The following resources cover at least two of the following styles for citing sources:  MLA, APA, Chicago, Sociology, Council of Science Editors, & IEEE:

Free Citation Tools

These tools are free and will help you manage documents and references, and create citations and bibliographies quickly and easily.

Spend more time writing and less time fiddling with format!

Firefox browser add-on. Reference, document and notes management, 1,000s of citation styles including Bluebook. Integrates with Word and OpenOffice via plug-ins. 
Screencast tutorials demonstrate many of the basic functions of Zotero.

Commercial (Fee) Citation Tools


These are a selection of commercial tools that can help you with document management, references, and citations. These tools are not free. However, as long as you are a student at St. Thomas, you will have free access to RefWorks.

Reference management and citation tool free through St. Thomas. Does Bluebook citations.


A Thomson Reuters product. Use EndNote to search online bibliographic databases, organize references, images and PDFs in any language, and create bibliographies. Integrates with Word, Apple Pages and OpenOffice. Does Bluebook citation style and user can also create a citation template. $115.95-$299.95 depending on edition.


"Refereed" or "Peer-Reviewed Journals Information

"Peer review" is the process through which experts in a field of study examine and assess the quality of articles before they are published.  Peer review insures that the research described in a journal's articles is sound and of high quality.

Sometimes the term "refereed" is used instead of peer reviewed.

You can identify Peer reviewed journals in the following source:


CLIC Plaigiarism tutorial

Concerned about Plagiarism? You should be! View this multi-media tutorial for more information.

UST Center for Writing

UST Writing CenterWould you like some expert assistance with writing and editing your paper? 

Check out the resources available from the Writing Center.