A citation provides the opportunity for your reader to locate your sources if they would like to learn more about your subject.
A citation proves that the ideas you have are supported by others in the academic community which lends validity to your paper.
A citation notifies the reader of your paper:
Who – who wrote or spoke these words or ideas originally? Who originally created this picture or graphic?
Where – where (in what source) did you locate these words, ideas or images?
More specifically, to cite a source is to provide your reader with the following information:
Author’s or Creator’s Name
Title of Work
Publication Information (Publisher, Date and Place of Publication)
Page Number(s) if applicable
Medium of Publication
In-text citations are especially important. It is not enough to simply list at the end of your paper the list of your references. You must cite the quoted or paraphrased section as soon as it appears in your paper.
Citations vary depending on citation style which often varies by discipline. However, some rules remain constant across disciplines:
You should always cite a direct quote or paraphrased passage.
You should always provide either in-text citations, end-notes or footnotes. Providing only a bibliography or reference page is not acceptable.