How to Credit Sources

Using other people’s ideas is a recognized and important part of being a good scholar. It becomes plagiarism only if credit is not given appropriately to the original source. The very same use of other people’s ideas that might be considered plagiarism if the source is not acknowledged is considered good scholarship if attribution is given correctly.

When to give credit

Need to cite when No need to cite when
  • referring to someone else’s ideas, opinions, or theories, such as by paraphrasing
  • copying exact words
  • reprinting or copying graphical elements such as diagrams, illustrations, maps, charts, and pictures
  • using ideas from others given in conversation, interviews, correspondence (letters or email) or heard during lectures, speeches, and from media such as television and radio
  • using ideas, opinions, or theories that are genuinely original with you
  • writing up your own experiment results
  • including your own artwork or other original creation
  • recording anecdotes about other people, in which those people remain anonymous
  • using common knowledge according to accepted criteria

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Purdue University Online Writing Lab, Avoiding Plagiarism: Safe Practices, 31 July 2012, <> (accessed August 7, 2012).

Last updated 8/23/2012 by Sue Thompson