When writing a scholarly paper of any kind, it is required to reference sources you used. The fact, that a certain idea is not your own, must be marked in the text.

The process of referencing to sources we used when writing our paper, is called citing.

Why cite

The main reasons for citing:

  • follow copyright laws and information ethics
  • prove knowledge of the topic
  • put knowledge into relevant context
  • prove ability to work with literature
  • allow reader to locate cited document

And most importantly: Failure to cite sources may be considered plagiarism and be penalised.

When not to cite

  • when you write your own experience, thoughts, ideas etc. or if you describe your own research or observation
  • when you use your own drawings, photos, video, audio, etc.
  • when you reference so called “common knowledge”, e.g. folklore, myths, legends, historical events (not historical documents)
  • when you write about some commonly known facts, such as the negative effects of exhaust fumes on the environment, or facts that are considered commonly known in a given field, such as Newton’s laws of motion. But, if you want to state, for example, what percentage of carbon dioxide comes from cars, you must cite a source

How to cite

The main rule of citing is to make a source clearly identifiable from the reference you provide.
When writing your paper, always note where your information comes from – write down all the necessary bibliographic elements identifying the document, typically: author, title, publisher, year of publication, volume, issue, pages. 

Basic rules of citing and referencing

  • bibliographic information for creating a reference should be taken directly from the cited source (the document which you have used); cite the specific issue or edition
  • if applicable, avoid so called second hand citations
  • primarily use information from the title page (title screen, website, DVD cover, etc.), then from the following sources in this order: reverse of a title page, website head, cover, additional documentation (e.g. leaflet, manual)
  • bibliographic information that is not directly stated in the source document should be put in square brackets, e.g. [Prague] – the place of publication was not stated in the document
  • the same applies to date of publication: If it is not stated, and you look it up in other sources or guess it, it should be put in square brackets (e.g. [cca. 1750], [198?])
  • the order in which bibliographic information is stated is set by each citation style guide
  • information is stated in the language of the document; with the exception of physical description, such as pages and notes, additional information, abbreviations and conjunctions
  • information on sources written in other than Latin alphabet must be transliterated (Cyrillic alphabet) or transcribed (Japanese phonetic alphabet)
  • the style, format and punctuation of bibliographic citations must be the same throughout the document

Citing guides

The rules for citation are set by citation guides and standards.
Among the most commonly used citation styles are:

  • APA – American Psychological Association style, used mainly in social sciences
  • MLA – Modern Language Association style, used mainly in humanities
  • Chicago – citation style for the needs of social sciences

In Czech academic environment, the most commonly used citation style is set by standard ISO 690, the newest valid version being from 2010. This standard is available for in-house studying in the
non-circulating library desk; you can get it at the loans desk (call number I8-25).

In-text citations

  • Parenthetical referencing (Harvard style) – author name and year of publication are enclosed in parentheses and embedded in the text; with pages used added if necessary. If two or more sources have the same author and year of publication, they are differentiated by adding small letters of the alphabet to the year. List of bibliographic references is sorted alphabetically by author name and is not numbered.
  • Numbered reference citations (Vancouver style) – References are cited within the text by using a number in parentheses, square brackets or superscript consecutively in order of appearance in the text. If it is necessary to cite the same source again, it is given the same number as when first referenced. List of bibliographic references is sorted in numerical order.
  • Footnote citation style (Oxford style) – by stating numbers in parentheses, square brackets or superscript we cite references listed directly in a footnote or at the end of the text sorted in order of their first usage. Citation referencing a source already cited should either repeat the bibliographic reference or state the number of the previous citation. Each bibliographic citation of the same source will have a unique number. If you cite the same source more than once, either include a full bibliographic reference again, or link to the previous footnote, eventually including a page reference. In the case of a longer scholarly work (such as a master’s thesis) it is possible to include a full alphabetically sorted list of cited sources at the end.

Alphabetically sorted list of bibliographic citations

  • autocitations (references of one’s own work) are listed before all other alphabetically sorted bibliographic references
  • bibliographic references of works of a single author are always listed before works of multiple authors beginning with the same name
  • bibliographic references of works of one author or more authors beginning with the same name are listed chronologically from oldest to newest
  • bibliographic references of works of more authors that begin with the same name are further listed chronologically from older to newest
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