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Citing and Writing
Why cite your sources?
You must document the sources you used in order to give recognition to the original author. Whether paraphrasing or using direct quotes, ideas that are not your own must be cited.
How do I choose a style?
Your instructor will provide you with the preferred style for your course. They may also have specific formatting instructions. Remain consistent with style and formatting, and provide enough information for the reader to identify the work or cited material.
Confused by the different citation styles? This chart provides a side-by-side comparison of APA, MLA, and Chicago styles. It is available from the OWL at Purdue website. Librarians are available to help with citations and referencing, choose an option below to connect with a librarian.
Get help from the Library:
APA Citation Resources
APA 7th Edition Resources (Reference System for Psychology, Business, & Health)
MLA Citation Resources
Citation information based on the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook is published by the Modern Language Association.
Chicago Citation Resources
Citation and referencing information based on the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
About APA Style
The style manual from the American Psychological Association (APA manual) uses an author-date citation format. When citing sources in APA, regardless of the resource you are citing, you will likely need an author, date, title, source, and specific format information (such as a volume number, page numbers, a URL, publisher, etc.). The elements of the citation will depend on what you are citing (book, journal article, report, etc.) and the format (print, online).
APA Citation Guides
Based on the Publication Manual of the Psychological Association (7th ed.) (Print edition in libraries BF 76.7 .P83 2020)
APA Citation Guide PDF (Updated for the 7th edition. Short PDF guide created by OC librarians)
APA Citation Guide (Interactive online guide created by OC librarians)
Other Online APA Sources
About MLA Style
The MLA Handbook is published by the Modern Language Association, the authority on MLA documentation style. MLA style is widely used in the humanities, especially in writing on language and literature. MLA style features brief parenthetical citations in the text keyed to an alphabetical list of works cited that appears at the end of the work.
MLA Citation Resources
Based on the MLA Handbook (8th ed.) (Print edition in libraries LB 2369 .G53 2016)
MLA Citation Guide (Interactive online guide created by OC librarians)
Other MLA Citation Guides
About Chicago Style
The Chicago Manual of Style contains two distinct citation styles: Humanities (notes & bibliography) and Scientific/Social Sciences (parenthetical author-date references & reference list).
Notes-Bibliography System: Bibliography items are listed alphabetically at the end of the research paper. Notes (footnotes or endnotes) are placed in the body of the paper.
Author-Date System: Reference items are listed alphabetically at the end of the research paper. In-text citations are noted in the body of the paper.
Chicago Style Guides
Based on the Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.) (Print edition in libraries Z 253 .U69 2017)
Online edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition)
OC Library Notes-Bibliography Chicago Style Guide (PDF Created by OC librarians)
Other Online Chicago Citation Sources
- UBC Library Chicago Style Guide (Notes & Bibliography System or Author-Date System)
- Chicago Style Guide from the OWL at Purdue Writing Center
Chicago Style by Subject Area
- Sociology, Anthropology & Geography - For those using the online version of the Chicago manual of style, and who are taking sociology, anthropology, or geography courses, please refer to the Author-Date TAB in the Quick Guide.
- History - For those using the online version of the Chicago manual of style, and who are taking humanities courses such as History, please refer to the Notes and Bibliography TAB in the Quick Guide.
AAA (American Anthropological Style)
Please refer to the Anthropology Research Guide's citation information on how to cite sources for anthropology. Anthropology citation styles are based on the 17th edition of Chicago Style (Author-Date system).
IEEE style and the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences may also have citation styles students are required to follow. Ask you instructor for information on these styles.
Citation Management Tools
Managing citations and referencing sources is an important part of academic writing. Online citation management tools are available to help you create and manage citations. These tools allow you to access and manage your sources online in a single place, insert in-text citations, footnotes, and bibliographies into documents, share sources with others, import references from library databases and websites, organize and search saved citations, and more.
- Zotero - A free, open source tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research sources. Organize citations into folders, add tags, make notes, and automatically generate bibliographies in dozens of citation styles. Citations can easily be added by dragging and dropping PDFs. With the Chrome browser add-on, Zotero will automatically download citation information from compatible websites. A Word plugin is also available and once installed, the Zotero toolbar allows you to insert citations and generate bibliographies inside your document. Syncing across computers is also available, allowing you to have the same citations across devices.
- Mendeley - A free reference manager to help you organize and share your research. Available as an app or desktop version, allowing syncing between multiple computers. A Word plugin is available to add documents to bibliographies and add in-text citations. Excellent app for those working in groups. The ability to share documents allows groups to assign people with different aspects of the research, and then share their their cited articles through a shared folder. Free with up to 2GB of storage.
- Microsoft Word - Most word processing software includes citation management tools. In MS Word, go to the References tab, then click on Insert Citation, then click to Add a New Source. More information is here.
- EndNote Basic - Free web-based service used to store references and create bibliographies. Offers up to 2GB of storage.
- Library databases - Many library databases will have a “Cite” tool or “Citation” generator. Use this to generate a citation for the source. Review the citation according to a citation style guide to ensure accuracy.
- Unsure which is the best option for you? MIT and UVIC libraries have charts that compare the different features of EndNote, Mendeley, and Zotero.
Be sure to review any citations for accuracy. Spelling and syntax errors are common with computer-generated references. The Library will help you construct citations and review reference style guides. Staff may not be able to assist with citation management software.
Keep your personal privacy in mind when using these online tools. Citation management products store data on non-Canadian servers. Use of these reference services is voluntary. Your username, email address and citations may be stored in the US or another country. Your account information will be subject to the laws of the country where the information is stored.
Assistance with writing and study skills is available through the College's Learning and Success Centres located on all campuses. Learning Coordinators help students become effective independent learners through individual and small group academic assistance in Math, Sciences, English (reading and writing), and Study Skills.
Due to COVID-19, all Learning and Success Centre activities have been moved online. More information can be found on their website.
Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
"Academic integrity is a cornerstone in the development and acquisition of knowledge. It is founded on values of trust, fairness, respect, honesty and responsibility."
Plagiarism is in violation of the Academic Integrity policy. According to the Policy, plagiarism includes but is not limited to, when a student:
- submits or presents work of another person, in whole or part, as that of the student's own work;
- fails to provide adequate attribution (author/creator must be acknowledged in the text, in footnotes, in endnotes, or in another accepted form of academic citation) to an author or creator whose work is incorporated into the student’s work, including another person's words, ideas, or entire works;
- paraphrases material from a source without sufficient acknowledgement;
- does not ensure the work is the student's own after the student has sought assistance from a tutor or other scholastic aids.
In fact, there are many "shades" of plagiarism. Students may unwittingly (or wittingly!) commit plagiarism. The Library and the Learning and Success Centres are available to help you plan your assignments and assist with research so you can avoid plagiarism.
Start Your Research
Plan Your Research
Learn how to plan and begin your research journey. Learn about academic integrity, plagiarism, and starting your research.
Use resources such as OCtopus to find reliable academic sources. Find a research guide for your course to walk you through the research process.