Plagiarism FAQs

What is Plagiarism?

The word “plagiarism” comes from a Greek word that means “theft.” Plagiarizing is “stealing” someone else’s ideas or words by using them in your own work and not citing (naming) the source where you found those ideas or words.

When do I have to cite (name) the source?

There are three different situations where you must cite your source:

  1. Facts or statistics that you didn’t actually count or discover first-hand.
  2. Any idea that you read or learned from a source (not your original idea).
  3. Anything that you quote from a book, website, or other research source.
What if I change some of the words

This is where you can really get into trouble if you aren’t careful, because keeping most of the original words but changing some is stealing their words – even if it isn’t exactly the same.

The solution:

  1. Quote exactly, put quotation marks around it, and put an in-text citation at the end of the quote.
  2. Or use your own words entirely – and you still need to put an in-text citation at the end, because this is someone else’s idea.

When in doubt, quote!

How do I cite (name) the source?

In an essay or a Powerpoint® presentation, there are two parts to citing a source:

  1. Place an in-text citation after the fact, idea, or quote.
  2. Include a Works Cited page at the end of the essay.

In an oral presentation:

  1. State the source of your facts, ideas, and quotes as you give them (for example, “According to…”).
  2. Prepare a Works Cited page to hand in to your teacher.
What do 'in-text citations' look like?

An in-text citation gives the author’s last name and page number (for print sources – just the name for non-print sources) in parentheses, and it’s located after the fact or quote, but before the period.

… salmonella can be caused by eating raw eggs (Bunch 62).

“Avoid foods that contain raw eggs” (Bunch 62).

If the source has no author given, use the title (exactly the same as the beginning of the Works Cited entry), instead:

… salmonella can be caused by eating raw eggs (“Salmonella” 62).

Where can I find information about creating 'Works Cited' pages and avoiding plagiarism?

For user-friendly instructions and a template for creating a Works Cited page, refer to “Cite My Sources” on the Oregon School Library Information System (OSLIS) website.

More information about citing sources and avoiding plagiarism can also be found at The OWL [Online Writing Lab] at Purdue website: