Citations in general
Citations are important from multiple perspectives. When you see a citation from someone else, the citation should provide the location of where you can find a source that has providing background information for the author who cited it. Citations are important to review, because if the source does not exist or does not represent accurately represent the information or point the author is making, the author's position or argument is undercut.
So how do you read a citation? Please watch the video to the left on the Basics of Citation. In general, the citation will tell you what the source is called, who authored the source, and when the source was published. The citation will also tell you information about where the source can be found (perhaps in a book or an issue of a journal) and if a book, who published it. You can tell a great deal of information about the source just by looking at the citation information!
In addition, citations are a great way to find additional information about a topic. If you find citations in a source useful to your topic, these citations could contain additional information you can use or lead to even more sources. Use them! Tab 9, So You Need More Information contains additional information on this matter.
Why should you cite your sources?
In addition to the reasons given in the video for citing your sources, it is important for the reader of your project to be able to ascertain the authority of the sources where you have gotten your information from. Just as you need to be able to evaluate information to use in your project as described on the Evaluating Sources page, others need to be able to evaluate the information that you are providing them. Being able to tell where you have gotten your information from is part of that process.
Make sure to cite your sources accurately, using the proper citation style that your instructor has assigned or is appropriate for your project. If you do not cite your sources using the correct format, you will be potentially graded lower. Therefore, if you use a citation generator in a database, software program, or from another resource somewhere else on the web, be sure to double-check your citations for the proper format in the Library's citation manuals (see the box below) before turning in your project. Do not count on the other citation generators to always be accurate. That being said, the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a good first step for APA and MLA styles.
Examples, search for more in RamCat!