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Distance Education: Citations

Moffett Library Resources and Services for Distance Education Students

What is a citation?

The term "citation" refers to the systems and methods used in academic writing to identify the sources of words and information. Simply put, the audience for your paper or project needs to know how you know what you know, and be able to find your sources if they want to know more.

Different citation systems--also known as "formats" or "styles"--are used in different fields. Your instructor will usually tell you which style is required for your assignment; if the instructor doesn't say, ask. Some of the most common are:

  • MLA style: developed by the Modern Language Association, this style is used in the humanities and sometimes the arts.
  • APA style: developed by the American Psychological Association, this style is used the social sciences and education, and sometimes for business and sciences.
  • Chicago Style: also known as Turbabian, is sometimes used for business, history, and the arts.
  • AMA Style: developed by the American Medical Association, used in medicine and allied health fields, and sometimes in other sciences.

If you are not sure what citation style to use for your paper, check your syllabus or assignment sheet, then ask your professor!  

Citation Resources

Academic Honesty

Student Honor Creed

"As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all studentwork is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Writing Help!

If you're still not sure how to cite something, there are several places you can turn for help.  

  • The Reference Desk:  librarians can help you with your citation questions.  Use the Ask a Librarian box (link), telephone us at (940) 397-4204 or toll free at 1-800-259-8518, or email us at
  • The Writing Center: They provide help with all aspects of writing, for any subject.  Telephone them at (940) 397-4544. Be sure to inform them that you are a distance student in order to receive help over the phone. Visit their web page here:
  • Your instructor:  You can also take your question directly to your instructor. This is a good option if your question is a particularly tricky one or if you are using one of the less-common citation styles. Also, try looking for information in your textbook/other course materials and the resources suggested.