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Introduction to citations and links to citations pages
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Citation Guides

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Citation Styles

Citation styles are a form of professional communication used in academia. Their goal is to provide a uniform system to indicate to readers where information comes from. Citation guides can be overwhelming at first, but trust us, they get easier with practice. Know that you are not expected to memorize all the details. What is important is that you understand what information you need and where to go when you are not sure how to cite a source or how to format your paper. Use the links to our style guides above to find more details about the particular expectations of each style.

If you have more questions, you can book an appointment with our Writing Support Specialist or one of our Research Librarians, who will be happy to help clarify things.

Why Citation Matters

There are three significant reasons that you should care about proper citations (aside from receiving marks):

  1. Avoid plagiarism by giving credit to the original author

    • Plagiarism can have serious consequences, including receiving a zero on your assignment, a zero in the course, or being expelled from the polytechnic. You must cite every source that you use, whether that is a novel, a journal article, a video, a post on Twitter, or a sticky note found on the floor.

  2. Create a professional and trustworthy essay

    • Adhering to citation guidelines assures your readers of the accuracy of the facts and ideas you present. You demonstrate attention to detail by following the formatting, and thus that you care about the work you produce. Furthermore, by indicating where your information is coming from, your reader can find the source material you use and can determine for themselves how accurate or reliable the information you present is.

    • For more information on reliable sources, check out our guide: "Evaluate Your Resources"  

  3. Enable participation in academic discourse

    • Essays can be considered as participation in a wider discussion. You are responding to research and ideas presented by specialists in their fields and helping others to find more information on your chosen topic. Readers are better able to situate your position in the wider discussion, and your work can be a starting block for their own research.


“If [your readers] do not trust your sources, they will not trust your facts; and if they do not trust your facts, they will not trust your argument.”

from A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertationsp. 136 

Inclusive Language

The purpose of using inclusive language is to prevent discriminatory language (sexist, ableist, racist, etc.) which supports stereotypes, bias, and otherwise harmful perspectives. Inclusive language promotes respect and acknowledges the diversity of the human experience. Furthermore, inclusive language has the additional benefit of making your writing clear, because specificity is encouraged where necessary.

Academic writing is meant to be objective, by which we mean that academic (and professional) writing should be influenced as little as possible by personal feelings and opinions. Facts should be the driving force of an academic argument or the conclusions drawn from research. Biased and stereotyped language can weaken your argument by drawing in personal opinion and beliefs rather than centering objective facts.

Some key uses of inclusive language:

  • Alternate between “he” and “she” in your examples

    • You might also use the singular “they”
    • Or rephrase the sentence to use a plural form
      • E.g., “A writer should review their work carefully”

Could become “Writers should review their work carefully”

  • Use people- or identity-first language

    • Meaning that you should avoid using adjectives as nouns (e.g., the gays, the poor, an autistic, alcoholics)
    • And use adjectives as adjectives (e.g., gay men, people living in poverty, a person with autism, a person with an alcohol problem or substance use disorder)
  • Be specific about who you are talking about

    • Are you discussing ALL of humanity? ALL business owners? Or specifically Canadians? Or business owners in a specific market?
  • Avoid unnecessary identifiers

    • Unless you are specifically discussing gender, avoid identifiers such as “policewoman” or “female surgeon” or “male nurse.” Terms such as these suggest that the gender indicated is not the norm and encourage biased thinking

For more information:

Video: Inclusive Language 101

The following video by Dr. Jennifer Sandoval from the University of Central Florida outlines the importance of using inclusive language:

Using Microsoft Word

The default settings of Word do not match citation requirements. Check out the video below for tips on how to format your essay in Microsoft Word to meet those requirements.  

(Video created by Writing Support Specialist Teevin Fournier, 2023)

Use these timestamps to help navigate the video

0:00 Introduction

0:37 Adjust margins

1:21 How to double-space

2:22 Remove spacing before and after paragraphs (Pro tip!)

4:17 Add page numbers

5:08 Page number font (Pro tip!)

6:15 Indenting paragraphs

6:55 Insert a blank page (how to make a Works Cited/Reference/Bibliography page without hitting "Enter" a gazillion times)

8:44 Headings

9:46 Hanging indents

11:45 Reference tool in Word

14:00 Where to find our citation guidelines

14:56 Using Canadian English

16:30 Word count

18:10 Block quotes (how to format)

20:00 Title Pages -- insert blank page

21:00 Title pages -- different first page (Chicago-style)

22:10 Footnotes

22:48 Text to speech

25:22 Concluding remarks

Have more questions? Check out our "Getting Started with Microsoft Word" guide for more basics, including a list of keyboard shortcuts and instructional videos.

Using Google Docs

The default settings in Google Docs do not match citation requirements. Check out the video below for tips on how to format your essay in Google Docs to meet those guidelines

(Video created by Writing Support Specialist Teevin Fournier, 2023)

Use these timestamps to help navigate the video

0:00 Introduction

0:25 Margins

0:54 Remove spacing before and after paragraph (Pro Tip!)

2:20 Double-spacing

2:51 Indenting paragraphs

3:22 Page numbers

4:00 Page breaks (how to make a Works Cited/Reference list/Bibliography page without hitting "Enter" a gazillion times)

5:03 Headings

5:25 Hanging indents

6:20 Citations tool

7:06 Language (American vs Canadian spelling)

8:04 Word count

8:42 Block quotes

9:42 Title page (inserting a blank page/page break)

10:39 Title page (different first-page for Chicago style)

11:28 Footnotes

11:50 Concluding remarks


Book an appointment with our Writing Support Specialist if you have more questions about essay writing.

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