Citing is the act of acknowledging and giving credit to the original creator of the source you use in your technical article. Plagiarism occurs when you copy and paste directly from a source and do not cite it.

You need both an in-text citation and a complete reference in your bibliography. When readers come across in-text citations, the bibliography gives them the information they need to locate the cited document. Here are five tips on how to cite your sources.

1. Use different ways to incorporate other’s ideas

Incorporating the ideas of others in your technical article can be accomplished in three different ways. If you use the author’s exact wording from the research, you must wrap the text in quotes and add the source after the quotation marks.

Another way to use a source is to paraphrase it which is using your own words to describe the author’s idea. If you paraphrase too closely to the original text, even if you do credit the source, it is still considered plagiarism.

Summarizing is another way to incorporate the work of another author. This involves writing a condensed description of the main ideas from the author’s work.

2. Choose the right citation style 

The citation style you need to use will vary by discipline. In most assignments, your instructor will assign a specific style but as you progress through your academic career, you may have more flexibility in choosing a style that works best for the type of article you’re writing and where you want to publish it. 

APA style is often the style you will need to use when doing your undergraduate assignments in sciences and engineering. Individual citation styles all have their own distinct qualities. For instance, the APA format places emphasis on using recent and updated information by focusing on the date when a work was created. 

3. Use citation management software

There are a variety of citation management tools available that can help you to collect and organize your sources, as well as create in-text citations and biographies in a specific citation style.

The EduBirdie site has a free APSA citation generator so you do not have to waste time entering files, authors, and publications manually. This online citation tool cites everything automatically for you so you can simply copy and paste formatted entries from the citation machine. Choose from 10 different styles such as APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard. Citation management software offers students help in the best possible way when writing their academic essays, especially when using specific styles. 

4. Check your understanding of what you need to cite

Plagiarism is when you deliberately try to suggest that an idea or wording was created by you when it wasn’t. Finding out exactly what constitutes plagiarism may surprise you. When you make use of the work of others to gather information and support your own arguments, this is not plagiarism.

You do not need to cite information that is common knowledge. One of the ways you can judge whether it is common knowledge is to ask if anyone in the field would know the information or if no-one would argue against it. 

If you use photos you did not take yourself, you need to cite the source. Any code you copy or paste from another source requires a link to that source. You must give the original creator of the code credit for its creation. So be sure to mark this point on your laptop or notepad.

5. Avoid one reference citation after another

Accurate citations will make your article look more professional and is a basic skill required at any university. However, the purpose is to present your arguments about a particular subject and not just to quote others. Any references you use should support your argument and offer the evidence you need to defend it.

You don’t want your reference citations to be jarring and obtrusive. If they are seamlessly woven in with your own ideas, those reading your article are less likely to be overwhelmed by them. Your citations should contribute step by step to help you build a strong argument based on facts. 


Providing references is necessary to give credit to other authors and their works. You will be accused of plagiarism if you don’t do this. References need to be in a particular style and it is possible to generate them by using citation management software. You will need to develop a good understanding of what you need to reference and how to use your references to support your arguments.