First-Year Composition

This guide will help students find primary and secondary sources for English 101, 102, 112, 198, 298 assignments.

Where to Begin


A citation is needed usually when:

  1. You are stating someone else's words, thoughts, or ideas

  2. New information that is considered "uncommon knowledge"

  3. You refer to or use an image, clip, tweet, post, website, etc.

  4. You use your own words, thoughts, or ideas that you have stated in previous work.

A citation is not usually needed when:

  1. You are stating YOUR opinion on a subject (i.e. I really do not think the new Star Wars movie was as good as it was hyped up to be.)

  2. It is common knowledge (i.e. Nashville is the capital of Tennessee in the United States.)

Herbert Writing Center

The Judith Anderson Herbert Writing Center provides free and individualized help for both undergraduate and graduate students throughout the writing process including citation assistance! Trained tutors can help with in-text citations and references for APA, MLA, Chicago, and many more!

Check out their website for more information about services and how to schedule an appointment!

Frequently Used Citation Styles

AMA (American Medical Association) 

The AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors, Eleventh Edition is mainly used for medical or scientific publishing. Below are some great resources to cite in AMA.

APA (American Psychological Association)

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Seventh Edition is commonly used to cite in the social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, nursing, communications, education, business, and engineering to name a few. Please check with your department or professor to see what citation style is preferred. Some resources include:

Looking for 6th edition resources? Check out the APA Style Sixth Edition Resources page for links to the archived style blog, sample papers, quick answers, and supplemental materials.


This style is mainly used in Historical Research. Below are some great resources to cite in Chicago or Turabian.

MLA (Modern Language Association)

The MLA Handbook, Eighth Edition is mainly used to cite in the humanities. The MLA Style Center is a great place to start when beginning to format your paper in MLA. Additional resources include: 


Citing Your Sources and Creative Works  

This interactive module provides scenarios and explanations about how to cite sources.

What is PowerNotes?

PowerNotes is a tool to help you save, annotate, organize, and cite sources you access from databases and the Web. PowerNotes helps you take notes on and keep track of your online sources, create a research outline, avoid accidental plagiarism, and more.

You can:

  • Capture online source material: PowerNotes allows students to highlight and file away information to one of their custom topics in a project.
  • Annotate online sources while they read: To add a thought to any highlighted text, students simply type a note, and they don't need to copy/paste in the URL of the site—PowerNotes does this automatically.
  • Organize sources: Highlights, notes, and URLs are saved to custom topics in a project—an organized and accessible way to preserve what students have collected.
  • Download outline and notes: When it’s time to write the paper, students can download their project to Word.

More Citation Resources