Practice Safe Writing!

Citing the works of authors that you use to form your own research is a critical part of the writing and research process. Citation provides evidence to back up our own ideas and statement. It demonstrates where our work fits into the greater body of knowledge.  And it gives proper credit where credit is due. 

Read these best practices to avoid accidental plagiarism and check out these proper paraphrasing techniques.

Cornell University's Plagiarism Tutorial and Code of Academic Integrity

Saving time in citing sources

Picture of a clockHow to save time in citing sources

In the process of doing research, you will encounter a multitude of resources including books, articles, and websites.  Keeping all of these organized as you progress, and ultimately creating a bibliography using a particular citation style can be a daunting and time-consuming task. 

But no fear, citation management help is here!  With a relatively easy-to-use tool, you will be able to organize and save the resources you find.  And with virtually the click of a button, you will be able to generate bibliographies in nearly any citation style.

There are a number of citation management tools available to Cornell students and compatible with many of the databases you'll be using.  Visit the citation management help page to get started.  It only takes a few minutes to set up an account with such tools as Zotero and Mendeley. Endnote may also be downloaded for free by students in CALS and students in CHE.

To learn how to use these and other citation management tools, consider a workshop at Mann Library or Olin Library.

Image credit:  Tony Hammon, from Flickr at

Citing Sources

Your work should include both a Works cited list, and In-text citations. Both are important, but serve a different purpose. The works cited list is a comprehensive list of the resources used in the assignment. In-text citations tell the reader which resource(s) are responsible for specific data or information that you are using. Here are a few highlights of what each should include and why.

Works Cited List:

  • All resources used to complete the assignment should be listed here. - This gives the reader a comprehensive resource list, should they want to do additional research on your topic.
  • The list should be alphabetical by author - this is so the reader can quickly search through the works cited page for a citation used in the text
  • Be sure to use a hanging indent. This means that the first line of the citation will be left justified, and all other lines will be indented. This simply makes it easier for the reader to quickly browse through the list.
  • All citations that come from online sources should indicate the URL or database the source came from. Either is acceptable, just remain consistant. (e.g. Retrieved from Business Source Complete; Retrieved from - This is so the reader can track down the resources you used for their own research.
  • If you use URLs, they should not be extremely long. If they are, simply use the base part of the URL. For Example: use ,
    do NOT use 
    This is because URLs can change over time and also because it is usually easier to find a source from the base URL than it is to type out a long URL. In addition, full database URLs will often be blocked anyway due to access restrictions.

In-Text Citations:

  • In-text citations should be (Author, Year). When an author is not available, they should be (Title, Year). The first thing mentioned in the In-text citation should match the first thing mentioned in the Works Cited List. This is so the reader can scan the first line of the alphabetical Works Cited List to find the full citation.
  • Every sentence, chart, image or graph that was not completely your own data, thoughts or analysis should have a citation attached to it. This is because copyright requires writers to give credit to original authors for any information that is not their own.
  • If two subsequent sentences come from the same source, both should have a citation. This is because the reader cannot assume that any sentence without a citation should be attributed to one source over another.
  • When in doubt, always include a citation! 

Example Citations

Citing a Library subscription database:

Author. (Date). Article Title. Journal Title, Volume(Issue), pages. Retrieved from database.

Colvin, G. (2008). Information worth billions. Fortune, 158(2), 73-79. Retrieved from Business Source Complete.

The standard In-text citation for this article is (Colvin, 2008).

Citing a web publication:

Author. (Date). Article Title. Publisher Title. Retrieved from url.

Bruell, A. (2017, Dec. 5) Ad holding companies to rapidly increase spending with Amazon. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

 The in-text citation for this article is (Bruell, 2017)

For more examples, visit Purdue's OWL APA Guide.

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