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Information Skills Toolbox


Ways to use refences in your text: 

  • Citing plus a reference to the source
  • Paraphrasing plus a reference to the source

Citing means repeating or copying out someone else’s words. You should cite when a formulation is so precise that it would lose its meaning or significance if worded differently. When you cite someone else’s work, you must put the text between quotation marks and provide a source reference.

paraphrasing means describing passages from other people’s publications in your own words. When paraphrasing you are not copying the text but re-writing it. It is very important in terms of linking the work to your own text and ideas. If you do not use paraphrasing, your text will give the impression of being ‘cut and pasted’. 

Paraphrasing should not be used to make texts ‘read better’, and certainly not to conceal the fact that a text is actually someone else’s work. You always have to provide a source reference, so also when you paraphrase.


What is acknowledgement of sources?

When acknowledging your sources (also known as citation of sources,quotation of sources or reference), you state where you found the information: in which book or article, or on which website. When doing so, you will always use a citation style, for example APA or Vancouver.

Why cite sources?

  • It must be clear to the reader which ideas are yours and which ideas are from the works of others.
  • It must be possible for the reader to verify where you took the information from.
  • The use of suitable sources will increase the quality of your report and by that also its credibility.

How to cite a source?

  • In your text, you include a short reference to the source. This consists of: the author’s name, the year of publication and sometimes the page number.
  • Citing within the text can be done in two ways: by quoting or by paraphrasing. Quoting means repeating a text verbatim. Paraphrasing means repeating a text in your own words. 
  • At the end of your report, you include a list of all the sources you used: this is known as the bibliography, reference list or list of sources.
    A bibliography contains at least the following elements for each publication: author + year of publication + title + publisher.


The bibliography, source list or list of references is placed at the end of the text to provide an overview of the information sources you have consulted. There are strict rules for compiling these lists, and there are different styles for different disciplines (APA, MLA, Chicago, Vancouver, Harvard).