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Citing Sources: BASICS


A Citation or Bibliographic Citation is a reference to a published or unpublished work.

Information usually includes:

  • For a book: author, title, publisher, and date.
  • For an article: author, title of the article, title of the periodical, volume, pages, date, and database info.

Resources are cited in a student paper and citations are listed at the end of the paper.

Ask your instructor which format they prefer you to use for citing resources. APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association) are the most commonly used at UW-La Crosse.

Recommended Guides

These are comprehensive citation guides recommended by librarians.

Citing Resources Tips


  • The purpose of the citation is to allow the information to be retrieved again. Make sure that the information provided in the citation will allow a repeat of the process.


  • Copy the web addresses exactly as they are found. Extraneous spaces, missing spaces, errors in upper/lower case characters, and misleading symbols in URL's will usually cause failure in retrieval. Copy/Paste the URL into the citation whenever possible.


  • When citing an e-mail, listserv or newsgroup, you have an ethical obligation to be able to produce the message or posting upon request. The essence of citation is verification of information. If a reader cannot retrieve the source, s/he cannot see the full context or confirm the accuracy of presentation.


  • The date provided on a web resource may not be the original date of publication for a resource. It may be when it was added to the web. Subscription indexes, however, use the date the article was published.

Hanging Indents

From Microsoft Word help--

  1. Select all the lines of a citation.
  2. On the horizontal ruler, drag the Hanging Indent marker to the position where the indent starts. If the horizontal ruler that runs along the top of the document is not visible, click the View Ruler button at the top of the vertical scroll bar.


Research Assistance

Reference Desk

Librarians can help you learn to make the most of the information resources, tools, and services of Murphy Library and beyond!

Weekdays & Sunday afternoons (fall/spring):

  • Visit us at the reference desk (1st floor)
  • Call us at 608.785.8508
  • Web Chat with us

Any time (year-round):

Local history and/or archives research? Special Collections / Area Research Center specialists are available!

About this Guide

Murphy Library gratefully acknowledges UW-Stout and Carol Hagness for the original template and some of the content for the initial version of this guide.