Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

PLSC 251 Financial Applications for the Green Industry

An introduction to resources available through the library to help you complete a business plan.


Confused about what to cite, what not to cite, where to cite, or how to cite it? Then see the information below for help! Remember that this is a way to tell people where you get your information from and tells them how much they can rely on it - important for those investing in a business!

The following issues are addressed:

  • What you must cite
  • Citation Formats & Styles
  • Where to cite things
  • What you don't have to cite
  • Dealing with tricky citations

And for larger or longer projects, be sure to check out citation managers! These format your references for you and link with MS Word.

What to Cite

The following are things that you have to cite, including an example of each and the reason why:

Direct quotations

Example: In Act I Scene II, Bevolio says, "One pain is lessen'd by another's anguish."

Reason: The words are not yours.

Facts or ideas that you found in another source

Examples: The estimated population of Perth is 1,700,000. Alfred Russel Wallace thought he was the first to discover a gliding frog.

Reason: The facts or ideas might be true, but when they are not reasonably considered common knowledge, you must have found them somewhere.

Copying someone else's structure

Example: If you say, "I find these three elements to be crucial in understanding the sixth Cello suite," and John Doe wrote of those precise three elements before, CITE IT.

Reason: If you used John Doe's writing to find out about those three elements, or you know John Doe discusses the same three elements, you need to credit him.

Using collaborative research

Example: If you reference research that you did with other people, CITE IT.

Reason: Those other people deserve credit too.

Paraphrasing conclusions, ideas, and interpretations

Example: When you paraphrase, avoid just mixing up the order of the original passage or keeping the exact structure of the passage and just finding synonyms. Use your own interpretation and CITE any references to the original.

Reason: Paraphrasing isn't just messing with the sentence until it is unrecognizable. It means putting others' ideas within your larger context, while still attributing ideas and conclusions to their rightful creators.

Citation Formatting Requirements

There are lots of citation styles. The ones you will run into most frequently are:

  • MLA (humanities)
  • Chicago/Turabian (humanities, in particular music)
  • Bluebook (law) 
  • APA (social sciences)
  • ACS (hard sciences)

It's important you learn more about your required citation style. Many of them will have different margin requirements, title page requirements, and general format issues as well as distinct citation styles. Below are some links to helpful guides elsewhere on the Internet:

Where to Cite

Some good times to use cited material are:

When you need to defend a point

Cited material can be particularly helpful when you are trying to convince people of your conclusions. By backing up your points through strong sources, you can lend a great deal of credibility to your argument.

When you need to give some background information

If your readers are unlikely to know a lot about your topic, you can prepare them by including cited witness accounts to events, or historical research.

When you want to compare your view points with other scholars

When you are showing how different your conclusions are from someone else's, make sure you mention that other person's conclusions so readers have some idea of what you are rejecting.

When you need to fill some space

When you get stuck with two empty pages to fill, go back through your paper and see where you can expand on something that will help the overall thesis.

Quoted and cited material can be a great way to do this because including a citation is like making a sandwich. Yes, the citation may be a meaty (or veggie) good part, but the bread around it is what makes it a sandwich. Your introduction to the citation and your reflection following it creates a context and also fills you up.

What not to Cite

It is easy to feel like you have to cite everything and that your reference sheet will end up longer than your paper. Fear not! There are some things you don't need to cite:

Common knowledge

Examples: The tooth fairy is a mythological creature. Students use number 2 pencils when taking the SAT.

Reason: These are longstanding truths and understandings that are not attributed to a particular person.

Short, indisputable facts that cannot be paraphrased any further

Examples: Mary Tyler Moore was born December 29th, 1936. The bombing of Pearl Harbor took place December 7th, 1941.

Reason: While you could say at the end of your paper that Mary Tyler Moore showed her face in this world just a few days before the coming of 1937, would you really want to? Do you have to? The answer is no.

Your original thoughts, reflections, observations, and conclusions

Example: I believe Bessie Darling's Halloween murder to be the first in a string of 1930s mountain crime.

Reason: This is the conclusion that you have made, all by yourself, from all your studious research.

Tricky Situations

How do you cite:

  • Notes from class?
  • A recording you made of a visiting speaker?
  • An interview you had with someone?
  • Notes you wrote in another paper or publication?
  • A sound recording?
  • A speech?

All of these things seem difficult to cite because they are not "standard" types of  resources. While your style guide might have a structure on some of these, it might not. If there is no guidance on how to cite it you can either ask your professor or get creative (but not too creative).

Let's talk about option two for a second. What is a citation? A citation is a label that allows a reader to quickly identify and locate an information source. Things that go into a citation are things that would help the reader in this quest. This generally includes something like: creator of source, source name, source format, location of creation/publishing/etc., date created. For example, an interview I had with someone might look like:

Ross, Interview with Tarzan, The West Coast of Africa, 12 June 2011.

Check to see if there is an official way to cite your source first. If you have to get creative (a last resort) double check with your professor to make sure the citation you made works.