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Citing a Source: The Basics of Citing


Outside sources are often a requirement for your papers and projects. The library can help you locate books, articles, and other materials to meet your needs, but that's only the first step.

Once you have located them you still have to use the sources responsibly. The main component to this is citing the sources correctly.

This tutorial will help you understand the purpose of a citation and how to create one for a bibliography or work cited page.

Citations: A (Very) Brief Introduction

Video from North Carolina State University Library

MLA 8th edition

Earlier in 2016, MLA introduced the 8th edition of its style guide, which drastically simplifies the process of creating citations. Below are resources to introduce you to the new version.

Citing an eBook

Since ebooks are a relatively new technology, it can be a little tricky to cite them using the guidelines from the most common citation styles. Page numbers and file formats can very depending on file type and reader. Below are links to suggestions for the major citation styles. If you have questions, make sure to check with your professor to see how he/she would prefer the books to be cited.

Additional Resources

This tutorial only covered the basics of citations. To find more information you can visit the BC Writing Center or ask a librarian. You can also check out the following sites:

Where to Start

The purpose of each citation is to indicate where the information came from, and to provide the reader with enough information to access the original source. The type of source can effect the citation, but typically every citation requires the following information:

  • Author
  • Title (of book, article, or journal)
  • Publisher
  • Publication date
  • Page numbers
  • Volume and issue number (for journals)
  • URL (if a web source)
  • Database name (if from a library database)
  • Access date (if its an electronic source)


In a print book or journal most of this can be found at the beginning of the source


Title page of the book The World Without Us


 Image of the publication information inside a book



In online databases the article's record should contain all the necessary information

Citation information from article

Citation Generators

To transform the above information into a proper citation, you'll need to consult the appropriate style guide. The library has copies of each guide available for use. You also may want to use one of the many citation management/generator tools that are available either for free or a subscription fee.

A word of caution when using tools such as those listed below. Don't assume that the citation is correct, instead always verify the citation before turning in your paper. Glitches and uncommon formatting can cause trouble for these automatic generators

Some of the library's databases also provide you with citations for an article in various formats.

Check out our FAQ Knowledge Base

Contacting a Reference Librarian

Library staff is available to help with your questions big or small.

Walk-in questions are welcome! You can find research assistance in Flory Room 110 (Cori Biddle) or 112a (Vickie Montigaud-Green)

or you can schedule a Research Consultation!

Virtual Assistance is available via 

Phone: 540-828-5642
Text: 540-318-1962

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