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Citing Sources

Tips on citing sources from the DI Library

Informal Citations

Sometimes you will need to use formal style guidelines to format your citations, such as APA, Chicago, or MLA.

Sometimes it won’t matter how you format your citations as long as you do cite all your sources; these are informal citations, just like a book recommendation from a friend. An informal citation can be as simple as one of these examples:

In his 1954 book The Natural House, Frank Lloyd Wright asks, “What was the matter with the typical American house?”


In his book The Natural House (1954), Frank Lloyd Wright asks, “What was the matter with the typical American house?”


As Frank Lloyd Wright asked, “What was the matter with the typical American house?” (The Natural House, 1954)


Think about what information your audience will need if they want to find one of the sources you use.

  • Title
  • Creator
  • Date
  • Where you found it

The title and creator are the most important pieces of information to include. Remember that a museum, corporation, or other organization can be a “creator”. Below are examples of informal citations of different types of sources.



The Natural House, by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1954


Magazine or journal article:

An Inside Look at Cradle to Cradle Certification, by Jennie Morton, in Buildings, October 2015, ProQuest Central


Movie, online video, song, podcast, or other type of media:

Biomimicry in action, by Janine Benyus, July 2009,


Photograph, chart, illustration, or other graphic:

Personal Spaces in Proxemics, by Jean-Louis Grall, 15 March 2011,


Web page:

What Is Biomimicry? by Biomimicry Institute, 2015,

Cite It Where You Use It

Every time you use a quotation, a piece of information, or an image from another source, cite the source right where you use it, whether it’s on your project board or in your paper, job book, or presentation.

Include enough information to allow your audience to figure out which source (from your complete list at the end) you’re citing. For example, if you use the biomimicry web page in the example above, the citation on your board or presentation slide might be “What Is Biomimicry?"


If you want to use someone else’s exact words, make it clear that you’re quoting the source exactly. Set the quotation apart from the rest of your text by using quotation marks, a different color or font, or some other visual cue.

And, of course, cite your source.


When you want to use someone else’s idea but put it in your own words, paraphrase or summarize. To paraphrase or summarize an idea, you need to condense or clarify that idea. It’s not enough to take someone else’s sentence and replace some of the words; you need to truly understand the idea and state it in a new way.

And, of course, cite your source.

List of Sources

When you complete a paper or project, you will have a list of all the sources you used in your research. You can call it Sources, References, Works Cited, Works Consulted, Bibliography, Credits, or anything else that makes sense.

This list goes at the end — on the back of your project board, at the end of your paper or job book, or on the last slide of your presentation.

Here's an example that lists the sources in the order that they’re used in a PowerPoint presentation:

Souces Consulted

Eames: The Architect and the Painter (directed by Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey)
"Case Study House 8: The Eames House," from the Eames Office (
"Main entry of the Eames House, Pacific Palisades, California" (photograph by John Morse), from Wikimedia Commons (