Citations, quoting and paraphrasing

In the academic environment, source material is ‘cited’ or referenced in order to acknowledge and give credit to the work of others who have contributed to your writing. Citations also acknowledge an idea or passage that is associated with a particular author’s opinion or work.

Citing your sources is extremely important in the Canadian university environment. Failure to cite your sources may be considered a form of plagiarism, which is an offence under the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters at U of T.

In writing-based courses, most instructors will provide you with specific instructions on how to cite to material that you reference and include in your written work.  However, if they do not provide you with specific instructions, follow this general rule: any source material incorporated into written work should be referenced in three ways:

  • an in-text citation, such as a footnote or a reference in parentheses with information about the  source (e.g. page number, title, author name, date of publication);
  • quotation marks placed around words or passages taken verbatim from the source; and
  • a complete entry for the source in a Bibliography or list of Works Cited at the end of the document.

When using an idea that is summarized or paraphrased, a citation and bibliography entry are required.

Paraphrasing is referencing someone else’s ideas in your own words, and also requires a citation to the original source.

When in doubt as to whether to cite a source or not, you should always err on the side of citing to the reference material.

Below are some helpful resources to enable you to learn about citing, paraphrasing, and quoting.


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