Writing with integrity requires finding your own authorial voice, and maintaining a clear and consistent distinction between this voice and the voices of the authors you are using as sources. Keith Hjortshoj offers some helpful advice on the challenges of “establishing a voice” in the chapter “Theft, Fraud, and the Loss of Voice” from his book, The Transition to College Writing.

Writing with integrity also requires careful attention to the formal conventions of academic citation, which serve to distinguish your voice as an author from the voices of your sources.

The following sections offer a step-by-step overview of these conventions, with examples and illustrations of some of the most challenging ones:

Play it safe

1. Give yourself plenty of time to write and revise.

Plagiarism is often the act of a desperate student who has a deadline looming. Don’t let this happen to you. Good papers take days, weeks, or months to write. Start early, and let your ideas develop over time.

Plan to write a first draft and then revise it. If the professor allows the option to submit a first draft for critique, take advantage of that. Otherwise, plan to show a first draft to someone else (a friend, a Rhetoric Center consultant, or a classmate) a few days before the deadline anyway. This will help you determine how effectively the paper is written and give you a chance to improve it.

2. Take careful and systematic notes.

You should never write a paper directly from the secondary sources. Instead, follow these three steps:

  1. Take notes on your sources as you read.
  2. Compose an outline for your paper.
  3. Write your paper from your notes and outline.

Whenever you take notes on a source, be sure to make a full record of the source so that you can always tell from your notes where specific information and ideas came from. If you are using bibliography software (e.g. Zotero or Endnote), you can make notes within that program, which is a good way to ensure that your notes are clearly identified with the relevant source.

If you write your notes in simple text documents, make sure that all the notes are clearly identified with the source they came from. Include the bibliographic reference for each source in your notes document. For any source from the web, always include the URL (the full web address).

If you take extensive notes from multiple sources, create a separate document with the notes from each one, giving it a logical title that identifies the source clearly. For sources that are particularly important, download them from the web and store them as separate documents. If they are not prohibitively long, print them out and read them offline. These measures will help you to annotate your sources more easily and to keep your different sources distinct in your mind as you read and take notes.

When you take notes on a source, make sure that you put the information into your own words so that when you incorporate the notes into your paper you will not be importing plagiarized material.

If you do copy language verbatim from a source, make sure that you identify it clearly as a quotation. Make it stand out clearly from the rest of your notes, either by using quotation marks (for very short passages) or by italicizing or colorizing the whole passage like the present paragraph, so that even at a quick glance you recognize it as a quotation.

3. Find your own voice.

his may be the greatest challenge of all in academic writing. Once you have done substantial reading and taken notes on your sources, you need to stand back and decide what you want to say. Even if you are presenting the results of other scholars’ research, you need to tell the story from your own point of view. This will be different from the perspectives of your secondary sources. It takes time and effort to find a comfortable writing voice that acknowledges other perspectives but does not try to mimic them. You are probably not as knowledgeable about the subject as your sources, so don’t pretend to be. If you are relating another writer’s insight, give that writer credit right up front; try to introduce your sentences with gracious acknowledgements like, “Jones makes a helpful distinction…” and “Smith illustrates the problem with a memorable example…”.

Stepping away from the computer and writing some of your draft by hand is a good way to put healthy distance between yourself and your sources, and to find your own voice and your own point of view.

4. Avoid cutting and pasting.

Unless you are copying a quotation that you intend to highlight as a quotation, as indicated above, you should not cut and paste material from a source into your notes. Cutting and pasting may seem like a handy, quick way to “grab some useful information” from an electronic source, but it is a very dangerous practice. Note-taking should involve more conscious mental work on your part; cutting and pasting is a lazy and dangerous shortcut.

Telling yourself, “I’ll just cut and paste it now to save time, and then I’ll change the words later to make them my own” is equally lazy and dangerous. Don’t succumb to the temptation. Exert the effort required to put the information into your own words. This will help you to remember it better, and it will make your notes more authentic and less likely to get you into trouble.

ABOVE ALL, NEVER CUT AND PASTE TEXT FROM A SOURCE INTO A DRAFT OF YOUR OWN PAPER. (The only exception to this rule is when you intend to insert a lengthy direct quotation into your paper, identifying the entire passage as a quotation, and providing a specific page reference for it.) In all other cases, cutting and pasting text from a source into your paper is even worse than cutting and pasting into your notes. It is the first stage of plagiarism.

Do not try to justify this first stage of plagiarism to yourself or others by saying, “It’s just a temporary move; once I’ve copied it into my own paper I will reword it and make it my own.” This is akin to taking something off the shelf in a store, slipping it into your pocket, and claiming, “When I get to the checkout I intend to take it out of my pocket and pay for it.” In both cases, the first step is already getting you too close to a serious ethical offense. Neither the police officer who arrests you for shoplifting after you forget to empty your pockets at the checkout nor the professor who prosecutes you for plagiarism when you forget to rewrite the copied passage is likely to believe the claim that you “really meant” to do the right thing but “just forgot at the last minute.” You will be held responsible for putting yourself in such a compromising position in the first place.

5. Review your entire paper and all your source citations before you submit it.

Even if you have avoided all the dangerous shortcuts described above, you may have forgotten to include a reference for a quotation somewhere, or some of your references may be incomplete.

If you consulted secondary sources early in the research process (even generic sources like Wikipedia or Sparknotes) and did not take careful notes on them, revisit those sources before submitting the paper, to make sure that you have not inadvertently borrowed an apt phrase or interpretive claim from them.

There is no substitute for careful proofreading to allow you to fix these oversights before you submit the final draft. Once you submit it, you are of course entirely responsible for all its contents, and for all its omissions.

Quote your sources accurately

A good academic paper will refer often to its sources, sometimes by paraphrasing (representing what a source says in your own words) and sometimes by quoting (representing what it says verbatim, or in the author’s exact original words).

When you paraphrase, it is essential to use your own words; if you incorporate too many of the author’s words into your paraphrase, then you are not really paraphrasing but quoting without acknowledgement. This is often called “mosaic plagiarism”—“mosaic” because the resulting text is an amalgam of your words and someone else’s, and “plagiarism” because you are not acknowledging the latter. The “common pitfalls” section below gives advice and examples on how to avoid mosaic plagiarism.

When you quote, you must follow these essential rules:

1. Quotations must be clearly identified

For shorter quotations, use quotation marks: All the original words from the source must be enclosed within quotation marks. This applies even for short quotations of 3-4 words. When you paraphrase a source and use some of the same words as the original, of course you do not need to put quotation marks around every word that comes from the source. But distinctive words and phrases, and most phrases longer than three words, should be treated as quotations and marked with quotation marks. (For more examples, and further advice on how to avoid mosaic plagiarism, see Pitfall 1.)

Original source:
At one time in adolescence I was burning to find satisfaction in hellish pleasures.

Source: Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, II, 2.

Correct quotation:
Augustine recalled, “At one time in adolescence I was burning to find satisfaction in hellish pleasures.”

When you quote a phrase rather than a full sentence, integrate the quoted words smoothly into your own sentences so that they are still grammatically and logically coherent.

Correct quotation (integrated with your own text):
Augustine recalled his adolescent desire to “to find satisfaction in hellish pleasures.”

Note that quotation marks do not alter the normal rules of punctuation. Observe the same rules of grammar and punctuation that you would if there were no quotation marks in the sentence! For example, do not splice together two independent clauses with a comma, even if there are quotations around the second one!

Incorrect:
Augustine praised his mother’s character, “she was brought up in modesty and sobriety.”

Correct:
Augustine praised his mother’s character, recalling that “she was brought up in modesty and sobriety.”

For longer quotations, use indentation: If the quotation is a long passage of more than 3 lines (or about 30 words), make it a block quotation: indent it by half an inch from both left and right margins, and omit the quotation marks.

Correct use of block quotations:
Edward Gibbon memorably summarized religious belief in first-century Rome as a mixture of superstition and skepticism:

The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful.

For advice on how to decide between block quotations and short quotations, see “How to Get Beyond the Block Quotation.”

2. Quotations must be accurate

Every word and punctuation mark inside quotation marks (or inside an indented block quotation) must be exactly identical to the original text being quoted.

There are many good reasons for altering language, spelling, or punctuation within a direct quotation. You may want to add contextual information, change a verb tense to match the syntax of the surrounding sentence, correct spelling, or shorten a passage for brevity. This is fine, as long as you do not alter the meaning of the original (see above).

But whenever you change the text, even if you preserve the original meaning, you must indicate the change. Use square brackets [ ] to show where you have added or changed words, letters, or punctuation marks. Use elision marks (…) to show where you have omitted words, letters, or punctuation marks.

Here's an example:

Original source:
Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes.

Source: Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto.

Correct quotation:
Marx argued that “every form of society [was] based… on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes.”

3. Quotations must identify all speakers accurately

Accuracy also means presenting a correct account of who said what. If the source that you quote includes different speakers, or quotes another source, you must correctly distinguish between the different voices. If needed, use additional quotation marks within quotation marks to indicate a quotation within a quotation. (The interior quotation marks should be single, as shown below.)

In the example below, historian Norman Davies comments on the political mood in England and Germany in 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War. In his last sentence he quotes from another source. (Note that he uses square brackets to show that he has altered the text of his source.)

Original source:
Colonel House, the American, who visited Berlin in 1914, was shocked by the bombastic displays. Yet all the Powers cultivated a degree of military pomp and swagger; the differences were at best those of style. In all countries in 1914, unlike 1939, the military ethos was closely bound by a code of honour. A German observer remarked bitterly, “Militarism in the United Kingdom is regarded [by the British] as of God, and militarism in Germany as of the devil.”

Source: Norman Davies, Europe: A History (Oxford, 1996), p. 887.

Incorrect quotation:
Historian Norman Davies pointed out that all the future participants in the war were militaristic in their own way: all the European powers “cultivated a degree of military pomp and swagger… Militarism in the United Kingdom [was] regarded [by the British] as of God, and militarism in Germany as of the devil.”

This student correctly uses elision marks (…) and square brackets ([ ]) to indicate omissions and changes to Davies’s text. But the student misquotes and misrepresents Davies. The second part of the quotation (“Militarism…”) is not Davies’s own words, but those of a “German observer.” This needs to be acknowledged, both to give credit to the original author (even if he is not named here) and to make clear that the bitter anti-British commentary is not Davies’s own but that of a contemporary observer.

Correct quotation:
Historian Norman Davies pointed out that all the future participants in the war were militaristic in their own way: all the European powers “cultivated a degree of military pomp and swagger.” Davies suggests that the British were quick to criticize German militarism while overlooking their own; he cites an ironic comment by an unnamed “German observer” who “remarked bitterly, ‘Militarism in the United Kingdom is regarded [by the British] as of God, and militarism in Germany as of the devil.’”

4. Quotations must be contextualized

It is your responsibility to provide enough context to make every quotation understandable. If the quotation refers to people, events, or ideas that you have not already introduced in the paper, make sure you introduce them so your reader can make sense of everything in the quotation. Either provide the necessary context, or eliminate the parts of the quotation that are distracting and not relevant to your argument. But make sure that you indicate any alterations to the quotation, as shown above.

5. Quotations must represent the author fairly

The quotation below is technically accurate (it quotes the author's exact words and uses quotation marks), but seriously represents the original claim by taking a phrase out of context:

Original source:
I have enjoyed each of his books less than the last one. The early ones were truly inspired, but the newer ones seem stale and formulaic.

Incorrect quotation:
Jane Doe states that she has "enjoyed each of his books."

Make sure you quote in a way that fairly conveys the author’s original meaning. This requires careful attention to the context of author’s words. Are you quoting a statement that represents the author’s own beliefs? If not, be sure to explain the difference.

Cite your sources within your text

A citation is a reference to the source, including the page number of the original text (or comparable marker for unpaginated electronic texts). Citations can be given in different forms, including footnotes, endnotes, and in-text references. The different forms for correct citation are discussed later in this section.

If you do any of the following three things in your paper, then you must provide a citation:

  1. Quote a source verbatim: Whenever you reproduce the exact words of another author, you must surround them with quotation marks (or, for longer quotations, use indenting to create a block quote).
  2. Cite a distinctive idea: When you paraphrase an author's interpretation (i.e. present it in your own words), you should still acknowledge the source if you are paraphrasing an insight or analytical point rather than a straightforward matter of fact.
  3. Cite facts that are not widely known or that might be contested: In some cases, even facts should be cited and attributed to a source. If a source provides you with information that you could not have readily found elsewhere, or that might be challenged, cite it, even if you paraphrase the author's words. This is especially important when the facts are controversial.

Take a look at the passage below, from an internet biography of Martin Luther. This passage will be the source paragraph for all of the examples below. We will consider how you might make proper use of the source in your paper in each of the three instances given above.

Original source:
In July of 1505, Martin was caught in a horrific thunderstorm. Afraid that he was going to die, he screamed out a vow, “Save me, St. Anna, and I shall become a monk.” St. Anna was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of miners. Most argue that this commitment to become a monk could not have come out of thin air and instead represents an intensification experience in which an already formulated thought is expanded and deepened. On July 17th Luther entered the Augustinian Monastery at Erfurt.

Source: David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/luther/.

Here are three different ways that you might make use of this source paragraph by David Whitford in your own paper. Here are three different ways that you might make use of this source paragraph by David Whitford in your own paper. Note that each one of them requires you to cite Whiford's article, each for a different reason:

1. Direct quotation

You write:
Luther decided to become a monk in 1505, just a few days after being "caught in a horrific thunderstorm" and taking a vow to St. Anne.

Your quotation is short—only five words—but it is a direct quotation from Whitford. There are many other ways to describe this event, but you chose to use Whitford's language instead of paraphrasing, so you must attribute it to him.

2. Citing a distinctive idea

You write:
Luther became a monk after he survived a frightening thunderstorm in the summer of 1505, having made a vow to St. Anna. But many of Luther’s biographers think that he would probably not have made this commitment if he had been not already been considering the monastic life for some time before that.

Here you have successfully paraphrased the source and avoided using the author’s own language. But you are still citing a distinctive interpretation about when and why Luther made up his mind to become a monk. You must tell the reader where you learned that "many of Luther's biographers" think this. If you do not include a citation, you are suggesting (even if unintentionally) that you have read many biographies of Luther and are drawing this conclusion on the basis of your own reading. That is dishonest.

3. Citing facts that are not widely known or may be contested

You write:
Finding himself outdoors in a fierce summer rainstorm and fearing for his life, Luther took a vow to St. Anne; he begged her to save him, and promised that if she did so he would enter a monastery.

Again, you have successfully paraphrased the source and avoided using the author's own language. Here you are citing what appears to be more of a fact than an interpretation; you are just telling the reader what Luther said. But this "fact" may still be subject to dispute and may not be common knowledge. The story is widely told, but how do we really know it is true? With "facts" like this that depend on the reliability of the sources, it is always advisable to cite your sources.

Citation NOT needed: Widely known facts

You write:
Martin Luther became an Augustinian monk on July 17, 1505.

In this case, you do not need to cite Whitford. This fact is widely known and can easily be corroborated. Of course, it is not always easy to know what facts are "widely known" when you are not an expert, so when in doubt, cite the source. No reasonable person will penalize you for citing too often.

Avoid common pitfalls

It is possible to commit plagiarism even when you do provide citations for your sources. Writing with integrity requires more than just frequent source citations; it also requires writing in a way that clearly, consistently, and honestly distinguishes between your own writing and the original source.

Students commonly commit plagiarism by slipping into one of these pitfalls (The first three kinds of plagiarism are often called "mosaic plagiarism"):

  1. Using distinctive language from the source without acknowledgement, even if it is not an exact quotation.
  2. Copying the structure of the source while changing some of its words, or by combining words and phrases taken from a source with their own words without indicating which is which.
  3. Incomplete acknowledgement. If you provide a source citation but do not indicate fully and accurately which words come from that source, you are taking credit for another author's words, and you are plagiarizing. (See "Quote your sources accurately" for more tips on how to quote your sources accurately.)
  4. Failing to acknowledge the intermediate source. Good citations should tell the reader not just where information or words originally appeared, but where you found them. If you cite a source you have not actually read, by giving a citation for that source that really comes from another (intermediate) source, you are falsely taking credit for research that someone else has done. This kind of mistake is sometimes called "citation plagiarism." There is some disagreement about whether this should be considered plagiarism, strictly speaking, but it is certainly a poor practice and should be avoided.

These mistakes may be careless rather than deliberate, but they still constitute plagiarism. As a college student, you are responsible for knowing how to avoid plagiarism of all kinds.

The next sections illustrate these four common plagiarism pitfalls and how to avoid them.

1. Passing off distinctive language as your own

To illustrate pitfalls 1-3, we will use the same source paragraph from Whitford's article on Martin Luther:

Original source:
In July of 1505, Martin was caught in a horrific thunderstorm. Afraid that he was going to die, he screamed out a vow, “Save me, St. Anna, and I shall become a monk.” St. Anna was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of miners. Most argue that this commitment to become a monk could not have come out of thin air and instead represents an intensification experience in which an already formulated thought is expanded and deepened. On July 17th Luther entered the Augustinian Monastery at Erfurt.

Source: David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/luther/.

Pitfall #1: Passing off distinctive language as your own
Most historians believe that Luther’s commitment to enter the monastery could not have come from nowhere but rather represents an intensifying experience in which a thought already formulated is broadened and made deeper.1

1 David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/luther/.

This passage gives Whitford credit for his ideas, but not for his language; it cites him, but uses no quotation marks. You might think that none are needed, because Whitford’s language has been paraphrased. But this passage is still deeply influenced by Whitford’s language. It appropriates his distinctive phrases “intensification experience” and “expanded and deepened.” It modifies both phrases slightly, but the paraphrases (“intensifying experience” and “broadened and made deeper”) still retain the flavor of the originals. Although they are very short, these distinctive phrases do need to be acknowledged as Whitford’s. They are obviously copied from him; the student would not have thought of them independently. (A generic phrase like “entered the monastery” can be used without acknowledgement, for it is the most common way to describe the action in question; but the phrase “intensification experience”, though only two words long, has a different quality. Its original author gave it a unique meaning in this context. Changing “intensification” to “intensifying” does not alter that uniqueness.)

Distinctive phrases like this are often very helpful for conveying an author’s argument, so it’s often good to quote them. It’s usually not a good idea to try to paraphrase them. Paraphrasing them and omitting quotation marks is deceptive.

If you are not a native speaker, it may be very difficult to distinguish common everyday phrases from “distinctive language.” You may have to ask a native speaker for help. If you are still not sure, it is always best to err on the side of caution and quote the phrase in question verbatim.

Pitfall #1 averted: Accurate verbatim quotation
According to David Whitford, most scholars think that Luther had already considered monastic life before this, but that the storm provided "an intensification experience" which "expanded and deepened" his earlier commitment.1

1 David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/luther/.

2. Copying a source's sentence structure

Here is the same source paragraph from David Whitford's article on Martin Luther:

Original source:
In July of 1505, Martin was caught in a horrific thunderstorm. Afraid that he was going to die, he screamed out a vow, “Save me, St. Anna, and I shall become a monk.” St. Anna was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of miners. Most argue that this commitment to become a monk could not have come out of thin air and instead represents an intensification experience in which an already formulated thought is expanded and deepened. On July 17th Luther entered the Augustinian Monastery at Erfurt.

Source: David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/luther/.

Pitfall #2: Copying a source's sentence structure
In July 1505, Luther was caught in a terrible thunderstorm. Fearful that he might die, he shouted out a vow to St. Anne, promising that if she saved him he would become a monk. Anne was the mother of Mary and the saintly protector of miners. Most people think this promise was not just created on the spur of the moment but rather was based on Luther expanding an earlier idea. After this experience, Luther entered the monastery of Augustinian monks at Erfurt on July 17th.1

1 David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/luther/.

This follows the source's language much too closely. Every single sentence is a paraphrase of one of Whitford's. It attempts to conceal the copying by substituting synonyms for many of the original words—"terrible" for "horrific", "Afraid" for "Fearful", "shouted" for "screamed," etc.—but the structure of the sentences is clearly taken from Whitford. Whitford's article should serve as a source of information, not as a model for sentence structure.

Pitfall #2 averted: Genuine paraphrase
Luther's entry into the Augustinian order in July 1505 was prompted by what he believed was a near-death experience. Less than a month before he entered the monastery at Erfurt, he had been caught in a fierce thunderstorm. The frightened young Luther had taken a vow to St. Anne, promising that if she saved his life he would become a monk.1

1 David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/luther/.

This sentence structure is different enough to be a legitimate paraphrase of Whitford. A citation is still advisable here, since a little-known fact is being related (what Luther said in his vow), but no quotation marks are necessary.

3. Acknowledging quotations incompletely

Here is the same source paragraph from David Whitford's article on Martin Luther:

Original source:
In July of 1505, Martin was caught in a horrific thunderstorm. Afraid that he was going to die, he screamed out a vow, “Save me, St. Anna, and I shall become a monk.” St. Anna was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of miners. Most argue that this commitment to become a monk could not have come out of thin air and instead represents an intensification experience in which an already formulated thought is expanded and deepened. On July 17th Luther entered the Augustinian Monastery at Erfurt.

Source: David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/luther/.

Pitfall #3: Acknowledging quotations incompletely
Luther resolved to enter a monastery after a frightening near-death experience in a thunderstorm. According to David Whitford, "most argue that this commitment to become a monk represents an intensification experience" in which a thought already formulated at an earlier time is expanded and deepened.1

1 David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/luther/.

The first sentence here is a legitimate paraphrase of Whitford. The second sentence may appear at first glance to be legitimate too, because it quotes from Whitford and cites him as the source. But the quotation marks here are inadequate. They suggest that only the first half of the sentence is a quotation from Whitford. In fact, however, the phrase “a thought already formulated at an earlier time is expanded and deepened” also comes from Whitford, and that is NOT indicated here. This may be careless mistake, but it suggests a deliberate attempt to mislead the reader; using the quotation marks gains the reader’s trust, but the writer then betrays that trust by falsely implying that the last phrase is a piece of original writing. This feels manipulative and dishonest.

Another problem here is that the part that is quoted from Whitford is quoted inaccurately; the words “could not have come out of thin air and insteadhave been omitted from the quotation, but the student has not indicated that omission.

Pitfall #3 averted: Full and accurate quotation
Luther resolved to enter a monastery after a frightening near-death experience in a thunderstorm. According to David Whitford, "Most argue that this commitment to become a monk... represents an intensification experience in which an already formulated thought is expanded and deepened."1

1 David M. Whitford, "Martin Luther," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/luther/.

Here the student quotes the whole passage accurately and identifies the whole quotation as such. The omission of the words “could not have come out of thin air and instead” has been properly indicated with elision marks (three dots: "..."). (For more examples of the proper use of elision marks, see the section "Quote your sources accurately".)

4. Failing to acknowledge intermediate sources

The issue here is how to acknowledge honestly when you take language from a primary source via a secondary (“intermediate”) source without reading the primary source yourself. If you simply copy the reference to the original source but do not show that you found this reference elsewhere, you are implying that you read the original yourself. You are presenting the secondary author's research and reading as your own. This "citation plagiarism" and is dishonest and should be avoided.

For this example we need to use a different source: one that quotes from a primary source. We will use an internet article about Dietrich Bonhoeffer as our source:

Original source:
Bonhoeffer illustrates this notion of selfless action by contrasting the behavior of Jesus in the New Testament to that of the Pharisee. The Pharisee "…is the man to whom only the knowledge of good and evil has come to be of importance in his entire life…" (Ethics, p.30). Every moment of his life is a moment where he must choose between good and evil (Ethics, p.30). Every action, every judgment, no matter how small, is permeated with the choice of good and evil. He can confront no person without evaluating that person in terms of good and evil (Ethics, p.31). For him, all judgments are moral judgments. No gesture is immune to moral condemnation.

Source: Douglas Huff, "Dietrich Bonhoeffer," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/bonhoeff/.

Pitfall #4: Failing to acknowledge the intermediate source
Bonhoeffer's Ethics defined the Pharisee as "the man to whom only the knowledge of good and evil has come to be of importance in his entire life."1

1 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics, p. 30.

In this example, the sentence is correctly quoted, but the citation is misleading. It cites only Bonhoeffer’s Ethics, suggesting that the student found this quotation in Bonhoeffer’s writings. It makes no mention of Douglas Huff’s article as the source for the quotation. This is dishonest. A correct citation for this passage should identify Huff as the source for the Bonhoeffer quote.

Pitfall #4 averted: Citation acknowledges the intermediate source with "cited in..."
Bonhoeffer's Ethics definied the Pharisee as "the man to whom only the knowledge of good and evil has come to be of importance in his entire life."1

1 Bonhoeffer, Ethics, p. 30, cited in Douglas Huff, "Dietrich Bonhoeffer" (Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy), http://www.iep.utm.edu/bonhoeff/.

Ideally, after you read Huff’s article you will be inspired to read Bonhoeffers’s Ethics for yourself, and you can find the same passage that Huff is quoting. If you do this, then you can cite the Ethics directly without necessarily referring to Huff. But then you must make sure that your citations match the text that you actually read. You may find a different edition (perhaps even a different translation) of the Ethics, with different page numbers, from the one Huff cited. If you want to cite the same passage that Huff cited without adding, “cited in Huff…”, you must find and read the original text yourself, and you must make sure that you quote accurately and give the correct page reference for the edition you are citing.

Even If you do this, remember that you may still be drawing on Huff’s interpretation of Bonhoeffer, in which case you will probably need to cite both authors.

How to format citations

A source citation should enable the reader to find the passage you are citing in the source where you found it. There are two different ways to do this:

  1. Footnotes or endnotes;
  2. In-text citations (identifying the source using parenthetical references within your text).

Find out whether your instructor requires a particular style of citation. If the instructor has no preference, you may choose between various "citation styles" (sets of rules for how to format your citations). Some citation styles call for notes, and some call for in-text citations. A given citation style will also give you guidelines for formatting a bibliography (or "works cited" list).

Choose one style for your paper and follow it consistently throughout. If you are using footnotes, then all of your citations should be placed in footnotes. No commonly accepted citation style allows you to combine footnotes or endnotes with parenthetical (in-text) references. Do not invent your own hybrid style!

Here is an overview of the most common styles, with links to models of each one:

Chicago Manual of Style (“Turabian”)

The Chicago Manual defines two distinct styles: Notes-Bibliography (N-B) and the less common Author-Date (A-D) style. (Chicago N-B style is sometimes just called "Chicago style", since it is the more commonly used of the two.)

Full guidelines and examples of both "Chicago styles" (N-B and A-D) are found in the Chicago Manual of Style and in Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Concise online overviews can be found here:

The Chicago Manual of Style Online also provides the full contents of the Chicago style guide in an easy-to-use online format. The full contents are available by subscription-only, but Calvin has a subscription; if you access the site via a computer on Calvin's network, you should be able to view the full text.

Chicago N-B (Notes-Bibliography) Style

This style is the most “formal” academic citation style, and is preferred by History, Philosophy, and other humanities disciplines that often require lengthy citations. Its main distinction from other styles is that it uses footnotes or endnotes for citations rather than putting them in the main body of the text. This allows for citations to be maximally detailed and to include commentary when needed. It also calls for a bibliography listing all sources cited.

Simple overviews and examples of Chicago N-B style can be found on these websites:

Chicago A-D (Author-Date) Style

This version of Chicago style uses in-text citations such as (Smith 2012) or (Jones 1976, 304) rather than footnotes. It is preferred by many natural sciences and social sciences. An overview is given in the American Political Science Association Style Manual (pp. 17ff).

MLA (Modern Language Association)

This style is preferred by most literature departments, including English. It uses in-text citations rather than footnotes or endnotes, allowing for simpler citations and avoiding the complexity of notes.

Full guidelines and examples of “MLA style” are given in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.

Simple overviews and examples can be found here:

APA (American Psychological Association)

This style also uses internal citations, and is preferred by most social science disciplines. Full guidelines and examples of “APA style” are given in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Simple overviews and examples can be found here:

SBL (Society for Biblical Literature)

This is a specialized citation style for Biblical Studies. Full guidelines and examples of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) style are given in The SBL Handbook of Style (SBLHS).

Other online citation resources

You may also find the following resources useful for understanding the similarities and differences between the various citation styles: