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There are many good reasons why scholars and students cite the sources that inform their research and scholarship. Very generally, citing sources is a way to acknowledge when information is not one's own and credit those authors and creators who originated the information being used. Citing is the formal way that the acknowledgement and credit is documented.
In addition to giving credit to others for the work they have done, citing also:
The OWL (Online Writing Lab) website from Purdue University provides some great examples of citing in APA style and in MLA style (look at the left side menu on the page for the links to examples for various source types).
There are certain basic things you need to cite just about any source, using just about any format:
There are also certain things that must be included for specific types of works. For example, for an article or a book chapter, you would provide page numbers. For a website, you would provide the URL.
The moment when you are most likely to have easy access to all of this information? When you find it in the first place. Know then what you need to take note of to cite it effectively later.
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