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Name 5 Things That Do Not Need To Be Cited Or Documented Essay


Give credit where credit is dueEnglish proverb

(verb): to acknowledge (give credit to) the original author or artist by providing a reference
(noun): a properly formatted line of text that indicates the source for a quote, idea, fact etc. that you use

What to cite

The following examples require proper citation using an appropriate style manual such as the MLA. These are the main items that require citation.

  • Direct quotes: phrases, sentences, or sections copied directly from a text; cite with quotation marks (use a limited amount of text, not a full text) Learn how to use quotation marks
  • Paraphrased text: sections of your writing that are based on research (not common knowledge) but written in your own words (not in quotes)
  • Facts and Figures: numbers, percentages, and facts that have been collected by an exclusive source (such as during an experiment or poll)
  • Theories, methods, and ideas:any original idea or thought that you find during your research and present in your writing
  • Images, graphs, illustrations: always follow copyright rules when using images, including those you find online

Example direct quote:

"English as a Second Language and English as a Foreign Language are used interchangeably by many teachers, despite the obvious distinction." (Brown 55)

Example paraphrasing:

In the US many teachers use the term ESL, while in Europe, where people speak many languages, teachers often use the term EFL. (Brown 57)

Note: The above example might be considered "common knowledge" by some people. If you knew the information before your research, you do not need to cite it. If you use a direct quote that is common knowledge you do need to cite it.

In an essay or research paper you need to include two types of citation. One is short form and the other is detailed.

1. In-text citation

Stick to the "three word" rule of thumb. Never copy more than three words in a row from a research source when you put something into your own words.

The format for in-text citation differs depending on the style guide you use. The modern approach based on MLA uses parenthetical citation. Type the author's last name and the page # you referred to in brackets after a quote or paraphrased section.
e.g. (Adams 22) If no author is available indicate the work in another short formway.
e.g. (, Learner Section)

2. Works cited (bibliography)

The second type of citation is the more detailed version of the reference. This appears at the end of an essay or paper. It includes all of the information about the source, including the author, title, page numbers, and date of publication.
e.g. Adams, Sherry. "Why Learn Grammar?" Global News Daily. June 2009. A 15.

Ask your teacher which of the following titles to use:

  • Works Cited
  • Bibliography
  • Sources
  • References

What not to cite

Better safe than sorryEnglish proverb

You do not need to cite everything in your paper or essay. If you are unsure, include the citation anyway. Here are a few things that do NOT require citation.

  • common knowledge: basic information that can be found in a lot of places and is well-known
  • historical dates: this is public information that does not need to be cited
  • a well-known argument or theory: an idea/issue that is commonly discussed or debated
  • a universal proverb: age old proverbs or sayings, such as "Give credit where credit is due."

Formatting guidelines

Here are some different types of sources with examples on how to format them. You can include references in a Works Cited list or on your website or blog. Always ask your teacher which style guide to use.

Web pageAuthor if available (last name, first name). "Title of page" (in browser) Title of Web Site Date the page was last revised (if available). Date you viewed the page. URLEssberger, Josef. "Grammar is Your Friend" EnglishClub.com6 May 2014
BookAuthor(s) (second author starts with "and" followed by first name). Book Title Publisher. Date publishedYoung, Diane and Erin Edwards. Language Learning Today: Inside the Classroom World Press. 2009
EncyclopaediaAuthor. "Entry name." Encyclopaedia name Edition. YearBrown, Michael. "ESL." World Encyclopaedia International Ed. 2009
Magazine or NewspaperAuthor. "Title" Magazine or Newspaper name Date of publication. PageAdams, Sherry. "Why Learn Grammar?" Global News DailyJune 2009. A 15
ImagePhotographer. "Title or description" Online Image Site name Date you downloadedKeats, Mary. "Fall flowers." Online Image Teachers Picture GallerySept. 2008

Is It Plagiarism Yet?


There are few intellectual offenses more serious than plagiarism in academic and professional contexts. This resource offers advice on how to avoid plagiarism in your work.

Contributors:Karl Stolley, Allen Brizee, Joshua M. Paiz
Last Edited: 2013-02-13 12:01:30

There are some actions that can almost unquestionably be labeled plagiarism. Some of these include buying, stealing, or borrowing a paper (including, of course, copying an entire paper or article from the Web); hiring someone to write your paper for you; and copying large sections of text from a source without quotation marks or proper citation.

But then there are actions that are usually in more of a gray area. Some of these include using the words of a source too closely when paraphrasing (where quotation marks should have been used) or building on someone's ideas without citing their spoken or written work. Sometimes teachers suspecting students of plagiarism will consider the students' intent, and whether it appeared the student was deliberately trying to make ideas of others appear to be his or her own.

However, other teachers and administrators may not distinguish between deliberate and accidental plagiarism. So let's look at some strategies for avoiding even suspicion of plagiarism in the first place

When do we give credit?

The key to avoiding plagiarism is to make sure you give credit where it is due. This may be credit for something somebody said, wrote, emailed, drew, or implied. Many professional organizations, including the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA), have lengthy guidelines for citing sources. However, students are often so busy trying to learn the rules of MLA format and style or APA format and style that they sometimes forget exactly what needs to be credited. Here, then, is a brief list of what needs to be credited or documented:

  • Words or ideas presented in a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, Web page, computer program, letter, advertisement, or any other medium
  • Information you gain through interviewing or conversing with another person, face to face, over the phone, or in writing
  • When you copy the exact words or a unique phrase
  • When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual materials
  • When you reuse or repost any electronically-available media, including images, audio, video, or other media

Bottom line, document any words, ideas, or other productions that originate somewhere outside of you.

There are, of course, certain things that do not need documentation or credit, including:

  • Writing your own lived experiences, your own observations and insights, your own thoughts, and your own conclusions about a subject
  • When you are writing up your own results obtained through lab or field experiments
  • When you use your own artwork, digital photographs, video, audio, etc.
  • When you are using "common knowledge," things like folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events (but not historical documents)
  • When you are using generally-accepted facts, e.g., pollution is bad for the environment, including facts that are accepted within particular discourse communities, e.g., in the field of composition studies, "writing is a process" is a generally-accepted fact.

Deciding if something is "common knowledge"

Generally speaking, you can regard something as common knowledge if you find the same information undocumented in at least five credible sources. Additionally, it might be common knowledge if you think the information you're presenting is something your readers will already know, or something that a person could easily find in general reference sources. But when in doubt, cite; if the citation turns out to be unnecessary, your teacher or editor will tell you.