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‎Computer Science: Writing & Citing

Resources for Students of Computer Science

Why Cite?

Why should you cite your sources? 

  • To give credit to ideas that are not your own

  • To provide support for your argument (professor's love that!)

  • To enable your reader to find and read the sources you used -- this makes your research process transparent

  • To avoid Honor Code infractions and/or plagiarism!

What should you cite?

  • Exact wording taken from any source, including freely available websites
  • Paraphrases of passages
  • Indebtedness to another person for an idea
  • Use of another student's work
  • Use of your own previous work

Note: You DO NOT need to cite common knowledge.


citation reflects all of the information a person would need to locate a particular source. For example, basic citation information for a book consists of name(s) of author(s) or editor(s), title of book, name of publisher, place of publication, and most recent copyright date.
A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting. 

bibliography lists citations for all of the relevant resources a person consulted during his or her research.

In an annotated bibliography, each citation is followed by a brief note—or annotation—that describes and/or evaluates the source and the information found in it.

works cited list presents citations for those sources referenced in a particular paper, presentation, or other composition.
An in-text citation consists of just enough information to correspond to a source's full citation in a Works Cited list. In-text citations often require a page number (or numbers) showing exactly where relevant information was found in the original source.

Writing Process

Documenting your research

Scientific Style and Format, from the Council of Science Editors (READYREF. T11 .S386 2006)

Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL) Includes information for APA, MLA, and Chicago styles.

Writing style
The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. (PE1408 .S772 2005

Online Writing & Citation Style Resources


Citation Tools

The Olin Library does not endorse or support any particular one of these, but we will assist you in configuring your chosen citation tool to work with our resources.

Zotero: A plug-in for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari; also available as a stand-alone Windows application.  Free, with additional storage available for purchase.

Mendeley: A desktop and web program that stores document PDFs. Free, with additional storage and premium features available for purchase. Mendeley is particularly strong working with articles in the sciences. 

EndNote: EndNote is the most elaborate and well-established citation management tool, with many advanced features. It must be purchased, and has a steeper learning curve than the other tools listed here.

Other citation formatting tools merely help you word your citations in the appropriate format (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). These tools are useful when you won’t need to return to your list of sources after completing an immediate project. 

Citation Machine: Free web tool for MLA and APA style citations.

EasyBib: Free MLA citation formatting, with APA and Chicago/Turabian formatting for a paid subscription.

NoodleBib: Part of Noodletools, a suite of tools for note-taking, outlining, and other writing tasks. Noodle tools requires a paid subscription, but has limited functionality with a free “MLAlite” account.

What is citation management?

Citation management tools allow you to download citations from databases and websites, and to store, organize, and format those citations.

These are good choices for large research projects with many sources, for ongoing research into an area of interest, and for any research where you want to save sources that you might wish to refer to at some point in the future