The “Writing & Citing” page is meant to help you understand how to best go about writing a college-level research paper with citations. It is structured in a Q&A format. This is to help both the novice and experienced writer find exactly what they need to write a successful paper. Some questions, you may already know the answers to, while others you may need to delve into the supplementary material provided to get a better grasp of the task at hand. We have provided numerous images, videos, and links to help explain each concept.

For the most recent APA citation and formatting information, please see Purdue Owl.

Click on one of the questions below that most closely resembles your own questions regarding the writing and citing process or expand them all to take yourself through the entire process.

Why do I have to provide citations in my papers?

Citing references in your paper distinguishes what ideas/words are your own and what idea/words belong to others. If you use the ideas/words of someone else and do not give them credit (in the form of a citation), then you are plagiarizing. Plagiarism is a form of academic theft where one person takes the work or ideas of another and passes them off as their own.

How do I know if I need to cite something?

To answer a question with a question: Are the ideas and words your own? If you are using your own words/ideas, there is no need to provide a citation. If, however, you are either using someone else’s ideas or words, then you MUST cite.

screenshot of citing references

What type of citation style do I use?

At PCOM, we use the APA citation format. This is a standardized way to give credit where it’s due, so there is no question of the exact place you found an idea or words within a work. This involves listing several things about a work including title, authorship, year published, publisher, volume/issue, URL, and/or page numbers. All this information isn’t always available, in which case you use as much of the information as you can find in your citation.

Where do I cite my references?

You will need to cite your references both within your paper and at the end, by creating a list of all the references you cited in the paper. Within the body of your paper you will provide citations indicating that the information (whether in direct quotes or paraphrased or summarized) is coming from a source other than you. These are called “in-text citations.” These are much shorter representations of the more thorough citations you provide on your Works Cited page at the end which will be in “reference citation” form.

In-Text Citations Made Easy (VIDEO)

Also see these related links:

In-Text Citations: The Basics

In-Text Citations: Author/Authors

How do I know the correct formatting to use for my Works Cited page?

Reference citations for your Works Cited page are much more thorough than their in-text counterparts. There are many different types of resources (in print and online) and each calls for a little bit different formatting. There are endless tutorials and examples online, but below we’ve linked to a few of the best to help you understand!

APA Style Reference Page (VIDEO)

APA references types

Image from Van Wagenen Library website

Citation to an Article from a journal

Image from SCSU Website

These related links detail how to cite:


Electronic Resources

Other Non-Print Sources

Can I use a citation generator?

They are helpful, but frequently generate mistakes. The good news is that most of our databases will generate a journal article citation that will be formatted correctly and that you can easily copy/paste into your reference list at the end of your paper. ProQuest, EBSCO, and PubMed Central offer to cite an article for the user in APA style. Cochrane will cite it for you, but does not use APA style, so you must modify it to make it correct.


screenshot of ProQuest console


screenshot of EBSCO console

PubMed Central

screenshot of PubMed Central


screenshot of Cochrane Library console

How do I format my paper so it meets APA guidelines?

When you are ready to write your paper and need to put it into a formal APA format, there are certain steps to take that ensures you have everything in order. The easiest step before you begin typing is to make sure that you are using “Times New Roman” as your font and that the document is double spaced. The image below is an example of an APA formatted title page, first page of the body of a paper, and a reference page.

screenshot of APA guidelines

Image from Berkeley College Website

Below is a short video that gives an overview of APA style papers:

“APA Format in Word – in 4 Minutes” (VIDEO)

Sample papers with instructions:

OWL at Purdue

APA’s website

Microsoft Word has pre-made APA templates on the Office 365 web app and on their desktop platform:

You can get to Office 365 through myPCOM. Click in the left corner to find Word in your Apps.

screenshot of personal Microsoft Word

If you have Microsoft Word on your personal computer, you can find the APA style report format by searching for it as you create a new document:

screenshot of personal Microsoft Word

What if I’ve read everything on this page and STILL am having trouble?

If you are still unsure how to cite or format in APA style, please set up an appointment with one of your friendly campus librarians:

San Diego:

Patricia Benefiel

619-574-6909 ext 134

[email protected]

New York:

Svetlana Oziransky

800-729-3468 ext. 217

[email protected]


Olivia Baldwin

773-477-4822, ext. 315

[email protected]