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MLA 8 for ESL: Why Cite?

Why Cite?

The point of citation is to give credit to the authors of your sources. Citations show your professor or reader where you found the information to support the argument of your paper. Using citations shows your honesty and skills as a student. When you cite sources correctly, you avoid plagiarizing.

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Plagiarism is usually defined as a piece of writing that's been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work.

Plagiarism is copying or taking someone's published words or ideas as if they were your own.

To avoid plagiarism you must put "quotation marks" around information that is directly copied from a source and cite all thoughts, ideas, arguments, research, quotations and obscure facts taken from your sources by using a citation format like MLA 8.

 Plagiarism is not allowed at Cañada College. If a student is caught plagiarizing, he or she can fail the class or even be expelled.

When to cite?

Create a citation when you are using:


  1. Direct quotes of more than one word. If the author’s words are powerful or you need to be specific for your argument, the authors’ words can be used as a direct quote.
  2. Paraphrasing or summarizing. If you want to use someone else’s idea to help you make your point or to support your own ideas, in this case you would “translate” the ideas into your own words.
  3. Information which may be common knowledge but still unfamiliar to your reader. This would also include statistical information which may be familiar information but still requires confirmation.
  4. Not just books or articles. Any source that you use for information can and should be cited including interviews, websites, TV programs, etc.
  5. Whenever you are not sure if something should be cited, err on the side of caution and cite it.