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Management & Organization: How to Cite

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Cite your sources

  • Citing your sources helps you to avoid plagiarism.
  • Readers can go back and look at your sources if they'd like to follow up or read further.                                 
  • By demonstrating how widely you've researched a topic, your own argument ends up being more credible.
  • Citations can show you've considered a wide variety of opinions when forming your own argument. 
  • Citing is standard practice in academic conversations.  Scholars have been debating ideas through written works for years and citing is a way  of respecting those who've engaged in the topic before you. 
  • Citing gives you the opportunity to show off your research abilities!   why cite icon                  

You must cite the source when you...

  • Paraphrase someone's ideas.
  • Mention someone's ideas.
  • Summarize a source.
  • Quote someone's exact words                                                                                
  • Use numerical data, such as statistics.
  • Use an image, such as a picture or a diagram.
  • Use multimedia, such as a video, an animation, or an audio recording.
  • Mention a fact that is not common knowledge.

Citing mainly occurs in these areas of your paper :

  • In-text citation
    • An in-text citation is a reference made within the body of text of an academic essay. Include an in-text citation when you refer to, summarize, paraphrase, or quote from another source. For every in-text citation in your paper, there must be a corresponding entry in your bibliography or reference list.​

Examples of in-text citations:

APA format example: 
The sky is blue (Cottrell, 2013).
ACS format example:
The sky is blue.1
IEEE format example:
The sky is blue [1].
  • Reference list or Bibliography
    • A reference list and a bibliography look very much alike. They both contain entries arranged alphabetically  for example, by author, and they include the same basic information. The difference lies not so much in how they look as in what they contain. The purpose is to help the reader uniquely identify and access each source.

bibliography is a detailed list of works cited in your paper, plus the background readings or other material that you may have read, but not actually cited.

A reference list is the detailed list of references that are cited in your work. For example, in APA Style, each reference cited in text must appear in the reference list, and each entry in the reference list must be cited in text.

  • Footnotes / Endnotes
    • Some academic disciplines (such as history & political science) prefer to use footnotes (notes at the foot of the page) or endnotes (notes at the end of the work) to reference their writing. Although this method differs in style from the usual "'author, date'" system, it serves the same purpose, i.e. to acknowledge the source of ideas, data or quotations without undue interruption to the flow of the writing.

This depends on the following:

  • What type of work you are writing?
    There are different citation styles for different disciplines. For example, when you cite sources in a psychology (APA style) paper you would probably use a different form of citation than you might in a paper for an English (MLA style) class. 
  • ​How you are using the borrowed material?
    ​Identify your sources. If your sources are very important to your ideas, you should mention the author and work in a sentence that introduces your citation. If, however, you are only citing the source to make a minor point, you may consider using parenthetical references, footnotes, or endnotes.
  • The expectations of your instructor!
    Save time by consulting your instructor to determine the form of citation appropriate for your paper.

Adapted from How do I cite sources?,© 2017 Turnitin, LLC.

Popular citation styles

Ask your module instructor/coordinator/tutor for the preferred citation style and if there are other special formatting instructions you should follow. Once you have determined the style to follow, use it consistently in your paper (in-text), bibliography or reference list.

This guide contains resources on commonly used citation styles as follows:

  • ACS (American Chemical Society)
  • APA (American Psychological Association)
  • ASA (American Sociological Association)
  • Chicago/Turabian  
  • Harvard
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
  • Legal Style
  • MLA (Modern Language Association)

Reference Management Software


 EndNote is a software that:

  1. Stores and organizes references found from many sources
  2. Inserts these references into a MS Word document
  3. Automatically formats your references according to a predefined citation style, and more ...
  4. Secures your research sources as it stays in your local device (if you don't sync to the online version)


If you're new to EndNote, check out our EndNote Library Guide!

Zotero - Collect, Organize, Cite and Share your Research Sources
Zotero is a free bibliographic citation management software that allows you to save, collect, manage, cite, and share research sources. Zotero is available either as a Firefox extension or as standalone software that works with Firefox, Chrome browsers, but not so well in Safari browser (sync is not instant) ... so it's easy to save you citations and capture web pages during the search process.

Use the Zotero word processor plugins to easily cite your sources and create a bibliography in MS Word and Google Docs!

If you are interested to learn how to use Zotero, please visit our Zotero Library Guide!

NUS Libraries video on citing and creating bibliographies using ZoteroBib

ZoteroBib is a web-based tool that helps you build a bibliography instantly from any computer or device, without having to create an account, install a software or 'build a library'. It's ideal if you're working on ad-hoc assignments that require less than 20 references.

ZoteroBib was created by the team behind Zotero, the powerful citation tool recommended and used by universities around the world, so you can trust it to help you seamlessly produce professional-looking bibliographies.

Go to the ZoteroBib citation manager to:

  1. Add a bibliographic entry using DOI, PMID, ISBN, arXiv ID, or a URLs from Google Books and Amazon
  2. Rename the Bibliography Title (heaing) if needed
  3. Edit the bibliography
  4. Change to the desired citation style
  5. Copy the formatted references into your word processor with 1 click of a button
  6. Export your bibliography
  7. Automatically saves your bibliography
  8. Create  a link that you can share with someone else.