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Citing Your Sources

by Linda Jenkinson


Credibility helps you develop a following

Citing your sources helps you earn credibility. Whether you write non-fiction for online visitors or offline readers, proper citing of sources is critical. While they are an easily overlooked detail in writing, citations help save you from plagiarism claims.

In Albert Einstein's, Ideas and Opinions, he says, "Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters." (1)

The web can be a very informal means of communication. You may view citations as unnecessary, time-wasting extras with external links that lead readers away from your web site. However, cited resources build credibility with your visitors and visitors return to websites they trust.

Citing your sources adds punch to your content.

While your opinions may be valid, they are only your opinions unless you can back them up with solid facts. Besides improving your credibility, citations increase your recognition as an authority. They show that your views are shared with others. They also show that you are not afraid to bring the ideas of others into your conversation.

Give your readers access to your research.

When you cite your sources, you enable your readers to explore your topic as fully as you explored it. They will see that your content is well-researched and original, not copy-pasted from another resource.

Choose from several different methods of citing sources, depending upon your preference and the type of content you write. You'll find the most used methods in The Chicago Manual of Style(CMS). The CMS offers acceptable solutions for citing most types of documents.

There are several resources that help automate writing a citation. Son of Citation Generator is an online application. For those who prefer desktop applications, Zotero is a free, one-click way to add citations. In addition to CMS styles, Zotero also offers a choice of APA and MLA styles.

Make citations your "big stick."

In summary, take advice from Theodore Roosevelt. "Speak softly and carry a big stick." (2)

Adding citations to your research forges a bat that turns opinion into hard-hitting content. It builds trust in your writing expertise and adds credibility to your content.


  1. "Whoever Is Careless with the Truth in Small Matters Cannot Be Trusted with Important Matters." Albert Einstein at BrainyQuote. 2014. Accessed October 2.
  2. SparkNotes: Theodore Roosevelt: 1901–1909: Big Stick Diplomat and Peacemaker. 2014. Accessed October 2.

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