Skip to Main Content Banner

Government Information

Citing Your Sources

Why We Cite

We consult books, articles, and other sources of information when we research a topic. Citations in our papers and presentations give credit to the original authors of those sources.

Failure to cite is like taking other people’s ideas and passing them off as your own. Giving credit is the ethical thing to do and helps you avoid committing plagiarism, which is a serious offense that could lead to failing grades or even university expulsion.

Citing sources helps us to show how we built on existing research and lets future researchers build on our research!

When To Cite

Generally speaking, you need to cite your sources any time you use information in a paper that doesn’t come from you. This includes direct quotations, paraphrasing or summary of others' ideas, use of data or graphs you did not create, and use of images, video, or other media that you did not create.

You do not need to cite your own ideas, nor do you need to cite general knowledge.

Using Database Citation Tools

Many library databases include a citation tool that automatically generates citations for you, in a variety of styles. When you've found an article, book, or other item in a library database that you'd like to use, look for a tool or button labeled Cite or Citation. However, these citations can often contain formatting errors or missing information, since they're not actually made by a human. You should always proofread and edit citations made by citation generators!

Citing Government Information

Because the US Government produces and publishes so many different kinds of information—from speeches to documents to bills to peer-reviewed articles and beyond—citing government information can get a little complicated! Use the guides below to learn more about citing government publications. You should also consult the style guide for your chosen citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).

APA Citation Style

APA is the citation style commonly used for research in the social and behavioral sciences, business, education, and the sciences. The following resources will help you learn how to format APA citations.

MLA Citation Style

MLA is the citation style commonly used for research in the humanities, including many English classes. The following resources will help you learn how to format MLA citations.

Library Help

  • Call: 801.863.8840
  • Text: 801.290.8123