I'm writing a 3700-word essay, consisting of two case studies and some explanatory material.

I'll be referencing a number of documents as sources for the case studies.

There will be a full list of references at the end of the essay, done in APA style.

I'm wondering, how often is it necessary to cite sources?

Should I be putting in an inline citation every time I say something, which is based on information/data from one of the sources?

Or is it sufficient to cite only when quoting or paraphrasing, or repeating facts/figures?

What's the normal practice for an essay?

3 Answers 3


Anytime you mention something that isn't general knowledge, you need to explain how you know it. So if you're using facts or ideas from a source, you need to cite the source.

I'm not quite clear on the distinction between "repeated facts/figures" and "based on information/date from one of the sources". If by "based on" you mean you've drawn your own conclusions. then you wouldn't need to put a citation for the conclusion you draw - that's YOUR work. But if it's somebody else's work, you need to cite it.

Think of it in terms of the reasons we cite sources. The first is academic honesty/respect for the work of others. If you don't cite something, the assumption is that you came up with it, and it's dishonest to let people assume this when it's not true. But the second reason for citations is to show that you're not making crap up! If I read a fact in an essay that I know the essay writer can't know personally, and there's no citation, I have to wonder if the writer didn't just pull the idea out of the air. And, a lesser-used but still important reason for citations - there are times when things don't sound right, or they sound right and incredibly interesting, and I want to go read the original source material myself. So I need to know where the info came from.

Good luck with it.


If you hope to publish it- then you should research what "style" is required by the publication. APA style is just the tip of the iceberg. Ask publications for guidelines.


Depends on what quality you want to maintain. For high quality you would want to do citations every time you

1)"say something, which is based on information/data from one of the sources?"

2) and "when quoting or paraphrasing, or repeating facts/figures"

If you are submitting your manuscript for review by academic sources you might get accused of plagiarism if you don't. Peer reviewers would reject them. Either way, its bad.

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