Citation Basics

Why should you cite?

Citation is the practice of documenting the sources you use in your research. Through citation, scholars highlight and identify the works and sources that have informed their research process and through which they have built upon the ideas expressed in their writing. Scholars cite sources so that readers can understand which ideas are original thoughts, and which have been borrowed from other authors. Using quotes and ideas from other publications without attributing them to the original authors is generally considered to be plagiarism. Avoiding plagiarism, then, is one of the reasons scholars use citation practices. Citation also serves to provide readers with instructions on how to identify and locate the sources used in an article, so that they may be consulted directly if need be.

Citation Styles

There are numerous formats for creating citations, with different guidelines for the presentation of information both within the body of a text and specifically for bibliographies, footnotes, and endnotes. Among the most commonly used are Chicago, the American Psychological Association (APA), and that of the Modern Language Association (MLA).  

While there is no official citation format for coursework at The Fletcher School, the Chicago style is used most often. The Ginn Library Style Guide, based on the Chicago style, may be used when instructors have not specified a preferred citation format. Online access to the Chicago Manual of Style is available.

Citation Tools

There are many tools available to help create and store citations, organize research, generate bibliographies and footnotes, organize PDFs, and much more.



  • Citation software
  • Free to Tufts community

Workshops and one-on-one training with citation styles and tools are available with the Ginn Library reference staff.

Dissertations Format

The Fletcher Guide for Preparation of Dissertations contains formatting policies. Any questions about the guidelines should be directed to the Ginn reference staff.