Citing Your Sources

The Library maintains a page of “Citation Tools” to help you cite your sources. Purdue’s OWL is one of the most comprehensive and easiest to use.

You may be especially interested in how to cite a personal interview (MLA or APA) or an email (MLA or APA). For both MLA and APA, you can treat surveys like interviews, as neither style specifies a citation format for surveys specifically.

There are also specific guidelines for what to do when your paper includes tables, charts, or graphics, as your Formal Report will. These guidelines tell you how to label them, how to refer to them in the body of the paper, and how to cite the source from which you got them. MLA or APA for tables and APA for figures.

Some Important Notes on Reusing Graphics

Using graphics in real-world publications is more complicated than using them in an academic setting. In an academic setting, reuse is considered non-commercial. Non-commercial reuse, especially for educational purposes, gives you access to a wider variety of graphics resources.

It is important to know, however, that if you are planning to use a graphic in a commercial or public way, you need to have permission to use that graphic in that environment. This applies even if you aren’t reselling the image itself or aren’t making money directly off of the image. If you are going to post a white paper on your company’s website for the free use of potential customers, for instance, that would be considered ‘commercial use.’

Doing a Google Images search isn’t good enough – many images located via Google Images are under copyright protection, and you could put yourself or your company at serious legal risk if you reuse them.

To use a graphic in a commercial situation, you need

1) to get the permission of the creator (paper’s author, photographer, etc.) or rights holder;
2) to pay a fee to re-use or purchase the graphic; or
3) to find a graphic that is free but licensed for commercial use.

There is a special kind of licensing – less complicated and restrictive than traditional copyrights – called Creative Commons licensing in which creators can make their work freely available but restrict how it can be used. For example, some creators will let their work be re-used only in non-commercial settings. In almost all situations, the work needs to be properly attributed (cited).

Wikimedia Commons, a sister project of Wikipedia, offers many Creative Commons-licensed images and diagrams. The Images and Films page on the Library website lists some more places where you can find images – both rights-controlled and rights-free.


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