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Research: A Step-by-Step Guide: Citing Your Sources

This guide walks you through the steps of the research process. You'll learn about tools you can use for researching any topic, how to evaluate the sources you find, and how to get help. Especially useful for English 102 students.

MLA/APA Citation Help!

Confused about citation styles?  Don't know what MLA or APA means?  Here are some places you can get help:

The Writing Center  at Centralia College (Kemp 105) will have tutors available to help with college writing at any phase of the writing process, including MLA & APA citations. Check their webpage for their current open hours.

Kirk Library has a MLA & APA webpage that has links to citation guides.

Purdue Online Writing Lab - Purdue University has a great website that will help you with citations.


MLA is the Modern Language Association's preferred style to document the research materials (books, encyclopedia, articles, documentary films, personal interviews, etc.) that you used to write your research paper. APA is the American Psychological Association's preferred style.  MLA style is usually used in the Humanities disciplines, and APA style in the Social Sciences.

There are other citation styles, like Chicago or Turabian, that you may be required to use elsewhere, but MLA and APA are the two major citation styles used at Centralia College. 


Make sure you use the citation style your instructor wants you to use.

Citing Sources

Databases Can Help You Cite

Many databases provided by the Kirk Library have a "Cite" feature built in. When you are looking at the detailed information for an item, look for a link or button for citing. If the link is available, you will see a screen which provides a citation in your preferred format.  Make sure to check the citations generated by databases for accuracy before turning in your paper!

It's Right to Cite

MLA Handbook and APA Manual

These books are available in the Library:

Cite Your Sources & Avoid Plagiarism

Students are expected to properly cite the sources used in their academic work in order to:

  • Give authors credit for their original ideas and research;
  • Enable readers to track ideas and research back to its original source.  

Whenever you quote or base your ideas on another person's work, you must document the source you used. Even when you do not quote directly from another work, if reading that source contributed to the ideas presented in your paper, you must give the author credit.

Citations provide evidence for your arguments and add credibility to your work by demonstrating that you have used a variety of resources.

Worried about plagiarizing? It's a serious offense that can result in failing an assignment or a class. Visit the CCOnline Writing Lab's page for a PowerPoint on accidental and deliberate plagiarism and tips on how to avoid them.

Is it Plagiarism?