Skip to main content

Citation Help: What are Citations?

Correctly citing your sources is critical to research project success. The guide provides students with support in learning APA and MLA styles.

What are citations? What citation style should I use?

A citation, in college reading, writing, or speaking, is a reference to a source of information.

In-text citations are short notes that must be included with your text where the idea, data, or evidence from that source is used. In-text citations should match to a complete list of full citations, usually included as the last page of your paper.

Verbal citations should be provided when you are giving a speech. You will need to mention the title, date, author and something about the author.

Full citations provide all of the elements necessary for the reader to find the exact same source used by the writer. Full citations should be provided, usually in a list at the end of your paper, or on a separate sheet for speeches, for all the sources used or consulted in your research project.

In MLA style, this complete list of full citations is called "Works Cited." In APA style, this complete list of full citations is called "References."  MLA is the acronym for the Modern Language Association; APA stands for American Psychological Association.

Consult your assignment handout or ask your instructor which citation format you will be required to use.

All citation styles will require you to include important elements from your source so that the reader can find that exact same source. Some of these important elements are author, title, publisher, place of publication, date of publication. APA and MLA styles format the citation elements slightly differently. Select the tab at the top of this guide for the style you need to find instructions, examples, and a PDF handout for that citation style that you can print.

What is Citing? Watch this short video to learn what citing is, when, where, and how to cite, and why it's important.


Cathy Cox's picture
Cathy Cox
Cathy Cox
Library Director
College of the Redwoods
7351 Tompkins Hill Rd.
Eureka, CA 95501

Citation Styles

Always ask your instructor what citation style should be used for research projects. See below for links to helpful resources.