6.4 How to Cite Your Sources: Avoiding Plagiarism

Laura Haygood

Learning Objectives

At the end of this section, the learner will:

  • Explain the difference between a reference and a citation
  • Utilize resources to create accurate citations and references

Citations and References

After reading about academic integrity, you may feel nervous about unintentionally committing plagiarism. However, you can avoid plagiarism by giving credit where credit is due, by using citations and references.

What is a citation or reference? The terms are often used interchangeably; however, a citation is often included in the text of your writing (often referred to as an in-text citation). A reference tells your reader what sources you used in your writing. This generally includes pieces of information such as the title, author, and year of publication. References and citations are highly formatted, listing each piece of information in a specific order. The formatting used for citations and references varies depending on what field you are studying. For example, Nursing, History, and English all use different methods or style books.


The MLA Handbook is the citation guide for the Modern Language Association. You will use MLA in your English classes. For more information on MLA, view the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) website.


The American Psychological Association (APA) shares its guidelines for citations in its APA Publication Manual. APA is the citation format nursing students are required to use. For more information, visit the APA Style Blog.


Activity 6.4: A Closer look at apa ‘sentence case’

A Closer Look at APA ‘Sentence Case’

The most common error encountered with APA format is related to sentence case for book and article titles. Confused as to what this means? You may be accustomed to capitalizing every word in the title of a paper, but in sentence case, only the first word is capitalized. There are a couple of exceptions, however, where you would still capitalize the first letter of the word:

  • proper nouns
  • first word of a subtitle
  • first word following punctuation, such as a colon or em dash.

Read this post from the APA blog to learn more, dating back to 1929!

Don’t forget – sentence case is one of the distinguishing factors between MLA and APA format.



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Strategies for Success in Nursing School: From Start to Finish Copyright © 2021 by Laura Haygood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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