Citing your sources is an important part of research and scholarship. As students and researchers, we cite our sources for several reasons:

  • to give credit to others for their ideas
  • to draw clear connections between evidence and our conclusions
  • to help others find the scholarship we've worked with
  • to avoid taking credit for other's work, or plagiarizing

Complete citations involve two parts:

  • in-text references
  • full citations and the end of your project.

In-Text References

In-text references are short citations that are included in the text of your project. They include enough information for a reader to find the full citation at the end of your paper. You'll format them as parenthetical citations (citations in parenthesis), or as footnotes depending on your citation style. Both types of in-text citations appear in the text of your paper where the reference to a work, quoting or paraphrasing occurs. Here's an example:

In the winter of 2022 sixteen states banned TikTok on employer-provided devices (Maddox, 2023).

When using parenthetical citations, consider using signal phrases. Signal phrases bring the author's last name from the parenthetical into the text of your project. They are then followed by a parenthetical with any other required information. Here's an example:

Maddox (2023) asserts that concerns about TikTok's data handling are overstated.

Full Citations

Full citations appear at the end of your project. They contain the information someone else would need to locate the source for themselves. These citations can be formatted as end notes, or in a bibliography or Works Cited list. Look to your citation style to guide the formatting of your citations. Here's an example in APA style:


Maddox, J. (2023, January 5). Banning TikTok hurts higher education. Wired.

Citation Styles

A citation style is a set of rules for formatting written work and citations. Different academic disciplines require different citation styles. If you're not sure which citation style to use, check with your professor or consult your assignment requirements. Northeastern University Libraries have print copies of the style manuals for commonly used citation styles, including APA, MLA, IEEE, AMA, and Chicago. For additional information and resources, consult the citations and Bibliographies guide.

Citation Management Software

Citation managers are software that help collect and organize your research. They make it easy to format in-text citations and bibliographies or works cited lists. Citation managers offer a range of citation styles and features.

The Northeastern University Library supports the following citation managers:

Choosing a Citation Manager

Which citation manager you use is up to you! The video and chart below summarize the strengths of each manager to help make picking one easy.