A Student Guide
Western Canada High School
Ms. Prentice 2014
A Brief Introduction to Reference
Lists and Citations
What is a “citation”?
To cite means to note or refer to something. It is
an action word (a verb).
A citation is a reference, or a mention. It is a
thing (a noun).
When we do research, it is important to
refer to or mention where we found our
Scholarship is a collaborative
activity. We build our
understanding on the work of
others. It is only fair to
Why do I need to worry about
Plagiarism occurs when
we take someone else’s
words or ideas and claim
them as our own.
Plagiarism is like stealing
someone’s words and
AND STEALING IS
WRONG!We want to develop habits of ethical scholarship by
respecting the intellectual and creative property of
Plagiarism and Your Learning
In your academic work, it is important to be
honest. Give credit where credit is due. This is
You can borrow someone’s words and ideas, but
make sure you GIVE THEM CREDIT by citing
Remember: your teachers can recognize
plagiarism quite easily. Plagiarizing can have
serious consequences – so make sure to avoid it!
Why Create a Reference List
Give credit where credit
Guide others to the
Give credibility to your
Step 1: Collect information for your
Every time you do research, you should create a
reference list for your project.
Your reference list identifies the information sources
you used in creating your project.
For each source, you MUST identify:
1. WHO is the author
2. WHAT is the title
3. WHEN it was published (and if the source is digital,
when you found it)
4. WHERE it was published (and if the source is digital,
where you found it)
5. The MEDIUM of publication (if using MLA style).
DON’T wait until the end of your
research to do this; record the
information as you go along.
Who. What. Where. When. Medium.
NOTE: There are many different citation styles;
MLA is one of the most common. Make sure you
know what style your teacher wants you to use,
and use it consistently.
Author last name, first name. Book Title. City of
Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium
Lane, Bryan. Crime and Detection. Toronto:
Stoddart, 1998. Print.
Author. “Website Article.” Web Page Title.
Institution or Organization Associated with
Website, Day Month Year. Web. Date retrieved in
Day Month Year.
Lamb, Arthur. “The Golden Gate Bridge.” Bridge
Building. University of Dublin, 15 Nov. 2010. Web.
31 Oct. 2012.
*note that you don’t include the URL in your citation
Author. Title of work. Year Created. Medium of
work. Image Source. Database/Website. Web. Date
Smith, Joan. Sunflowers. N.d. Photograph. CNN.com.
Web. 6 Feb 2009.
Use N.d. for “no
date” if you can’t
** If the image doesn’t have a title, create a descriptive one.
For example: “Photograph of a lion on the Serengeti.”
Tools to Help with Creating
Many academic resources – for example, e-
resources in the Online Reference Centre or our
school’s virtual reference library – will have
citation help tools. These resources will create a
citation for you. All you need to do is copy and
paste it into your reference list.
** make sure the citation provided is consistent
with your style (MLA? APA? Chicago?)
Online Tools to Help with
For examples, and a good general guide, visit the Purdue OWL:
Online citation generators can help too (but be careful to
double-check for accuracy!)
Microsoft Word’s Referencing tool can also help. See this video
tutorial for help:
Step 2: Citing in Your Essay or
Project: In-text citations
In addition to creating a reference
list, you should credit your sources
within your essay or project. We call
this ‘in-text citation.’ It’s a bit
Do I have
Facts that are widely known, or
information & judgments considered
“common knowledge” Do NOT have
to be documented.
Examples of common knowledge:
World War I began in 1914 is common knowledge.
Smoking is linked to lung cancer is common
Ottawa is the capital of Canada is common
If you see a fact in three or more sources, and
you are fairly certain your readers already know
this information, it is likely to be “common
• If you are discussing your own experiences,
observations, ideas or reactions you don’t need
to make a citation.
What should I cite?
• Facts that might be unfamiliar to your
reader (such as statistics or specific
historical information) should be cited.
• Ideas or interpretations that are not your
own should be cited (even if you agree with
the idea or interpretation).
• Cite direct quotes
• Cite anything you paraphrase or
If you aren’t sure if you should cite something, err on the
side of caution and cite.
Generally speaking: if the thinking isn’t yours, cite it (even if
the words are yours).
Should we cite it?
EXAMPLE 1: Shakespeare was born in Stratford-
upon-Avon. He is one of the most famous writers in
EXAMPLE 2: Most Elizabethans, like Shakespeare,
believed human emotions and actions were
governed by four fluids, known as humours: blood,
phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. If the humours
were in balance, a person would behave rationally.
However, an excess of one humour could cause
Should we cite it?
EXAMPLE 3: Romeo and Juliet are sacrificial victims,
and the ancient rule about sacrifice was that the victim
had to be perfect and without blemish. The belief
underlying this idea was that nothing that is perfect
can exist in this world of imperfection. That which is
perfect should therefore be offered up to another
world before it deteriorates.
EXAMPLE 4: "Like adolescence itself, the play has
many moods: it is delicate yet intense, occasionally
obscene, sometimes funny, and always heartbreaking …
you're in for a delightful surprise. This play is terrific."
Paraphrasing & Summarizing
Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s
thoughts or ideas in your own words. When you
paraphrase, you must credit the original author.
Summarizing means taking the main idea or
ideas of one author or several authors and
putting them briefly in your own words. When
you summarize someone else’s ideas, you must
Remember: if the thinking isn’t yours,
cite it (even if the words are yours).
Example of Paraphrasing
To paraphrase, you have to use your own words and
change the structure of the sentences.
Kenyans enjoy many sports and activities. Soccer is the most
popular team sport in Kenya. Many people belong to soccer
teams in their cities and towns. Track-and-field activities such
as running and high jumping are very popular. Many Kenyan
runners compete in races around the world. The best have
won medals in the Olympics.
Sports such as soccer, running and high jumping are popular
in Kenya. Kenyan runners compete internationally, and some
have won Olympic medals. Soccer is a popular team sport,
and many Kenyans play on soccer teams in their communities
Example of Summarizing
Summaries are much shorter than the original source or
sources, and only include the main ideas. The summary
should be in your own words.
Every year, Nigerians and people from around the world
look forward to the Argungu Fishing festival. The four-day
events began as a way to bring neighbouring villages
together in peace. During the first three days of the
festival, people enjoy a motor rally, canoes races, and a
fair. People dance to traditional music and watch many
different sporting events. The fishing competition happens
on the last day of the festival. Thousands line up along the
banks of the Sokoto River with nets to catch fish.
The Augungu Fishing Festival is an important Nigerian
holiday. This festival is an opportunity for people to come
together and enjoy many activities (Owings 26).
Quotations are someone else’s words, copied exactly
from the source material. Quotations need to be in
quotation marks, and must be credited.
Goalkeepers have to make important decisions during a
game. These decisions may affect whether the game is a
win, loss or draw for their team.
Gifford notes, “Goalkeepers have to make important
decisions during a game. These decisions may affect
whether the game is a win, loss or draw for their team”
Dealing with long quotes
For longer quotes, such as a text excerpt, set the
quote apart as a free-standing text block. You don’t
need quotation marks.
Nelly Dean treats Heathcliff poorly and
dehumanizes him throughout her narration:
They entirely refused to have it in bed with them,
or even in their room, and I had no more sense,
so, I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it
would be gone on the morrow. By chance, or
else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr.
Earnshaw's door, and there he found it on
quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to
how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in
recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity
Remember…take accurate notes
Include any direct quotes or unique phrases
in quotation marks or mark with a big Q and
make sure the speaker’s /writer’s name is
Make sure you note a paraphrase with the
writer’s name and mark it with a big P
Include page numbers and source references
so you can go back and check for accuracy
as you write.