VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Cite My Sources and Avoid Plagiarism

Why we cite, when we cite, and how it works

Parts of a citation

To cite your sources, you'll need to gather these pieces of information:

  • Author - or editor, speaker, artist, etc.
  • Title - of the article, book chapter, song, webpage, artwork, etc.
  • Title - of the journal, book, album, website, art exhibit, etc.
  • Dates - of publication, post, lecture, interview, electronic access, etc.


Ma Lei, Hsieh, et al. "Four Pedagogical Approaches in Helping Students Learn Information Literacy Skills." Journal of Academic                   Librarianship 40.3/4 (2014): 234-246. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

And, you will need a resource for the citation style required by the assignment.

What is a citation style? Basically, it's a set of rules about how to organize and punctuate these pieces of information when citing a source, agreed upon by a professional organization (e.g. MLA style was created by the Modern Language Association; APA style by the American Psychological Association). Different styles, different professional organizations. Click here for a guide to the most frequently used citation styles...and--when you get really comfortable with when and what to cite--to some online tools to help create and manage your citations.

Meanwhile, here are some fun games to help you get familiar with the parts of a citation and how they go together:

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