Citation Guidelines

What citation style does Smartly use?

Smartly uses the Chicago Manual of Style as a style guide for citations.

The Chicago Manual of Style’s website has a comprehensive Citation Guide that includes sample citations for reference. They also provide a Frequently Asked Questions page that has helpful information on Chicago-style basics, including paper formatting and more.

How do I know if I am citing my sources correctly?

The first step to confirming you’re citing sources correctly is to refer back to the Chicago Manual of Style’s Citation Guide.

You can also review Purdue University’s Avoiding Plagiarism or Ohio University’s Plagiarism FAQs articles for information on what does and does not need to be cited and other best practices. Finally, always double-check your references to make sure that the spelling, page numbers, and other key information is correct.

What exactly needs to be cited?

You need to cite anything that does not originate from your own work. According to Purdue University, this includes, but is not limited to:

  • Words or ideas presented in a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, website, 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 of someone else (even when it’s a blog, a reference article, or another student)
  • When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual materials;
  • When you reuse or repost any digital media, including images, audio, video, or other media.

If I re-word what my sources are saying, do I still need to cite them?

Yes, you do need to cite paraphrased or summarized ideas. If the idea did not originally come from you, it must be cited.

Because a source is publicly available on the internet, that means it’s public domain and I don’t need to cite it, right?

You do still need to cite works that are publicly available, whether or not they exist in the public domain.

The term “public domain” refers to something very specific: works whose copyright has expired after a certain period of time. In the United States, this refers to corporate works 95 years after publication, individual works 70 years after the death of the author, and federal government publications.
Just because the internet is publicly searchable, does not make individual websites “public knowledge” or part of the “public domain”—they’re still the copyrighted works of individual authors or organizations, and must be cited properly.
For more on the distinction, check out  this blog post from  Plagiarism.org.

Do I have to cite charts, photos, and other visual components? How?

Yes, you must cite any material you use that is not made or written by you. This includes diagrams, charts, photographs, and illustrations. For instructions on how to cite visual materials, please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style’s article on how to cite an image.

Is there anything I do not need to cite?

Yes! Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab states that you do not have to cite when you are:

  • Writing your own lived experiences, your own observations and insights, you own thoughts, and your own conclusions about a subject;
  • Writing up your own results obtained through lab or field experiments;
  • Using your own artwork, digital photographs, video, audio, etc.;
  • Using “common knowledge,” or things like folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events. Please note that this list does not include historical documents;
  • Using generally-accepted facts (e.g., the earth is round) including facts that are accepted within particular discourse in communities (e.g., in the field of investing, “the market is unpredictable” is a generally-accepted fact.

How does Smartly define plagiarism?  

We define plagiarism and define our plagiarism policy here on our Plagiarism FAQ page.

I have more questions!

You can find a list of helpful sites below. If more questions arise, please reach out to support@smart.ly for assistance.

Helpful Sites

Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide
Chicago Manual of Style-For Students
Ohio University's Plagiarism FAQs
Purdue University's Online Writing Lab
Smartly Student Code of Conduct
Plagiarism.org

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