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ENG 1061/1070 English Composition/Effective Speaking: Citing sources

Getting started with background research for composition and speech topics.

Castleton's guide to citing sources

For more information, see the CU library's

Citing Sources guide

Free online bibliographic management systems


Zotero started as a free Firefox extension.  You can download the Firefox extension and plugin from the Zotero website.  There is now also  a standalone version that can be used with other browsers, and a web version that can be used on shared computers, like ones in the library or campus computer labs. If you are using Zotero on a public or shared computer, restart when you are done to avoid anyone making changes to your collections.

See documentation, including a Quickstart guide

To use it, you make an account on the website, download the Firefox extension (or standalone version application) and a plug-in. Then it is integrated into your browser. It adds a Z into your browser toolbar. Click on the Z to open a Zotero pane.

To grab citation information from a website, open the Zotero pane, and click on this icon to "Create Web Page Item from Current Page." Or right click while on the website and an option is Zotero-->Create Web Page Item from Current Page.

To export from subscription databases, choose "Reference Manager." Exports as an .ris file.  If you have Zotero installed, click on the RIS file and Zotero will open up. Or obtain the article's DOI and locate the citation within Zotero by DOI.

To export from the VSC Online Catalog, choose Export Record-->Export to Endnote and it will create an .ris file to import into Zotero.

For tablets and mobile devices: App (third party):  Zotpad  You can access your citations and links, but you can’t add to your account.

Mendeley is another free tool, which is more than a citation manager.  You can search within it, and use it to store documents. You can sync your desktop files with Mendeley Web.

See documentation, including help guides, video tutorials or a very helpful "get started" guide from UC Berkeley

To use, you make an account, download “Mendeley desktop,” and install “Mendeley Web Importer” (works like a bookmark; when you click on it, it grabs citation info from webpage). See How to install “web importer.”

To export from subscription databases, choose "Reference Manager." Exports as an .ris file.  If you have Mendeley installed, click on the RIS file and Mendeley will open up.

For tablets and mobile devices: Mendeley for iOS (You can access your citations and links and add PDFs to your account). No Android app yet.

Why cite sources

Here are some reasons why it's important to cite your sources for academic work

  • Demonstrates your knowledge of the sources on your topic and the work you did to synthesize this learning
  • Adds credibility and support to your arguments
  • Provides your professor or reader with a research trail
  • Gives credit to the scholars whose ideas you use
  • Failure to cite your sources properly is plagiarism

General resources

General resources online:

  • Using Sources, from Amherst College's Writing Center, includes help with quoting, summarizing and paraphrasing, and avoiding plagiarism.
  • Citing Sources, from Duke University Libraries, provides examples for citations within your paper and for assembling your works cited list.
  • The Online Writing Lab from Purdue University. See the link to Research and Citation on the right.

General resources in the reference section of the library:

  • The Scott Foresman Handbook for Writers
    (REF 808.042 H127s)
  • Cite Right--A Quick Guide to Citation Styles--MLA, APA, Chicago, the Sciences, Professions, and More
    (REF 808.027 L669c)

What are citations?

Giving credit
It is important to give people credit for their work. When you cite a source you used in your research you are giving credit to the person whose idea you used or refer to. When you properly cite sources, you are demonstrating responsible scholarship.

Documenting sources
You document the sources you use in your research in a works cited list or bibliography at the end of your project.  For some projects you will include footnotes or in-text citations wherever you use someone else's idea or language.

What's in a citation
Citations include the information necessary for a reader to locate the original source.  There are conventions for different disciplines as to the format of the citations.  The American Psychological Associaton sets the conventions for APA style, for example.

Ask a Librarian






Tutorial:  Learn to use PowerNotes for collecting info about sources and creating an outline

One project is free. You can pay for an account to have more than one project at once.

MLA Style


MLA Handbook
(REF 808.027 M72)

MLA Overview and Workshop and MLA Formatting and Style Guide from Purdue's Online Writing Lab

See Using MLA Format and othe resources from the Modern Language Association.

For help with other styles, see the Castleton library's Citing Sources guide.

Pre-formatted citations

Helpful tip:  Citations formatted for you!


For any item (book, article, etc.) included in OneSearch, click on the title.  Then, you can get the citation by clicking on

on the right side of the screen.  Scroll down for different citation styles.

Click on the title of the source.  Look for a link that says "Cite" or "CiteNow" or "Citation Tools."

For pre-formatted citations for books, go to  Find the book you want to cite. Click on Cite/Export. Click on the + for the style you need (APA, MLA, etc.) Copy and paste the citation!

The free EasyBib app for iOS and Android allows you to capture bibliographic information about a book by scanning its barcode. It then generates a citation which you can email to yourself.

Also see
Citation tools