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The University of Iowa Libraries

The University of Iowa Libraries


Citation Formats: What is a Citation?

A guide to the different citation formats including MLA, Chicago, and others

Definition and Its Importance

When doing research it is often necessary to consult other research. When you use an idea or statistic that comes from another source, you need to reference that source; failure to do so is considered plagiarism.

The citation is the reference to that original source (i.e., book, paper, article, web site, etc.).

A citation usually includes four important pieces of information:

  • author(s)
  • title
  • publication
  • date

Citing sources gives credit to the original author, enables readers to find the original source and strengthens your work.