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Citing Sources: When You Don't Need to Cite

When to Cite

When should you cite? Check out the When to Cite page.

Historical overviews

When multiple sources provide the same information about historic events, you may provide a summary of these events without a reference. However, you found the information in just one source, be sure to cite it.

Your own ideas or findings

When presenting ideas or research results that are your own, just state that they are yours. However, if you create a graph or chart out of information you gathered from another source, you must cite the source from which you extracted the data. 

Conclusions (containing formerly cited ideas)

If you have already cited the ideas earlier in your paper that you are summarizing in your conclusion, you do not need to cite them again. However, if you are bringing in new ideas, be sure to cite them.

Common knowledge

Information qualifies as common knowledge when it can be found in a significant number of sources and is not considered to be controversial. General descriptions of social customs, traditions, and observable world phenomena qualify as common knowledge, as well as popular expressions and sayings such as “the early bird gets the worm.” Common knowledge can vary between subject fields, so think about your audience. If you have doubts about whether something is common knowledge, ask your professor or another expert in the discipline.

 

Example

Common Knowledge: 
Davidson College was established in 1837 by Presbyterians.

Needs a Citation:
Davidson College was established in 1837 by Presbyterians who bought the land primarily for its rural location, far from the immoral enticements of cities.

 

For more information about when you don't need to cite, see:

Citation management

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