How to Properly Cite Your Sources

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
By: Vanessa, Editorial Manager

Originality is critical to your success. In article writing, it’s important to prove your originality and credibility in your articles with your own primary information. Although quotations are not entirely unheard of in articles, quotations can provide emphasis or support to your topic and your original ideas.

If you decide to use quotes, don’t overdo it! Prove your status as an expert in your niche by limiting quotations to no more than 5 lines (total) of quoted material in an article and give credit where credit is due by properly citing your sources using these tips.

Source Validity Is Taken Very Seriously

You must be the original source of your articles. If we find content you’ve submitted matches content found elsewhere, we will search for your association with that content. No connection? We will have a serious problem. However, if you properly cite (or quote) content that is not original to you, then the quotes may help support your original ideas!

Recall you’re allowed no more than 5 lines of quoted material. The quotes you provide may not be counted toward the word count during editorial review. Ensure your original content (i.e., your words and ideas) still meets the minimum guideline of 400 words. Determine whether the quote is necessary by searching your own experiences and your own original evidence.

Next, check out these terms:

  • Source: The origin from which something came. On the web, this is often indicated that the content came from a particular website URL. For example, should anyone copy your work published on EzineArticles, an Article Source attribution line will automatically appear with a link to your EzineArticles Expert Author profile page wherever the content is pasted.
  • Citation: A reference to the source in text. For example: All too often, a sentence will appear riddled with the ellipsis. “The ellipsis is the black hole of the punctuation universe …” (p. 165) said Lynn Truss in Eats, Shoots, & Leaves.
  • Reference: The information providing the details of the original source, e.g., “Works Cited,” that appears at the end of an article.

How to Cite Your Sources

Some common sources, such as Wikipedia or, do not require a formal citation or reference. These can easily be provided by utilizing introductions like “according to Wikipedia” or “ states” in your article.

Also, articles from popular magazines, websites, and blogs are acceptable to be cited in text (author name, publication, and date) without a formal reference. For example: As John Smith noted in the Popular Magazine article on July 27, 2012 …

Next, for uncommon references, there are a great variety of style guides, i.e., MLA, APA, Chicago, etc. Find one that suits you and your audience and stick with it.

Here are the three examples of Works Cited in Chicago style:

Book with One Author

Author Name, Title of Book (City of Publication: Publisher Name, Year of Publication), page(s) referenced.

Linda Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves (New York: Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2003), 165.

Article From a Magazine

Author Name, “Magazine Article Title,” Magazine Title, Month Day, Year of the article.

John Smith, “The End of Proper Grammar Is Near,” Grammar Weekly, August 7, 2012.


If possible determine the content’s author and lead with it; otherwise, lead with the organization or brand name, the page title, the site title, and collect the URL.

Christopher Knight, “Article Writing Strategies To Get Into Zen Flow – 7 Tips,” EzineArticles,—7-Tips&id=31459

Give credit where credit is due by properly respecting your source’s originality. Use these quotation tips when writing your next set of articles to uphold your credibility. And remember to search your own experience before you quote to leverage your credibility and originality.


JoeTranscriber writes:

Thanks Vanessa, again, a great tip coming from you all. Great job as well!

Transcription is fun

Comment provided August 7, 2012 at 10:14 AM



So important to cite sources and give credit!

Comment provided August 7, 2012 at 10:15 AM


Dave Keays writes:

While there is no dispute that most articles needs a majority of original material and needs to be clear what is and what is not, it seems to me that just how much depends on the context. I discount a piece I’m reading with either too much or too little quoted material. EzineArticles is well within its rights to establish guidelines and I’m obliged to follow them in articles published through them, but I’m not obliged to agree they are proper

I’m glad they are informing us where they draw the line about how much to quote and how to actually cite the source when it is done.

Comment provided August 7, 2012 at 11:28 AM


Lance Winslow writes:

This is a good post, and as authors we also appreciate being properly cited, so the right thing to do is to cite others as we prepare our own work. I personally very often cite material from others fairness, but also to allow my readers to learn more or give them a place to go for further understanding, this helps me not have to re-explain the basis for my observations and new concepts, as I take it to a higher level. Let’s be fair to those whose writing we often build upon as we offer new information and perspectives while sharing ideas, innovations, and our own expertise with the world.

Comment provided August 7, 2012 at 7:39 PM


Randall Magwood writes:

I wish people who take my articles and put them onto their website would cite their sources. Most strip my resource box out of my article and pass it on as their own. In some situations I do a DMCA dispute… this is typically when i’m highly upset.

Comment provided August 7, 2012 at 7:49 PM


Ulki Goswami writes:

This is a very common phenomenon. Someone may actually print your article in a book or magazine and you will not know about it! So scary!

I hardly come across citations and quoted texts in EzineArticles. Is it because people are scared to use quoted text?

I remember an incident of Google penalizing a website made by a company where I used to work previously. My colleague had used a quote by a famous author and Google had considered it as copy paste. So, all the writers in the organization were instructed not to use any quotations at all in their articles!

Vanessa can you throw some light on this matter? What is the right way to use quoted text and not get penalized by Google?


Hi Ulki,

We are not able to comment on what Google will or will not do. However, we do recommend adhering to our Editorial Guidelines and ensuring that you are delivering quality and original content to your readers. By providing your readers with quality, 100% original and unique content you can continue to build their trust in your brand.



David Chester writes:

An article I recently sent had two quotations of 4 lines each and it was rejected because it contained more than 5 lines total.

May I suggest that the limitation should be based on the number of words and not the number of lines used? If the limitation was 2% of total length, then an article of say 1,500 words would e limited to 30 words quoted. But, using this idea, the minimum length article of 400 could only have 8 words quoted.

Comment provided August 8, 2012 at 6:17 AM


Hi David,

Please keep in mind that the 5 lines of quoted material is merely a guideline and is not a hard fast rule in this case. Quality content remains king, so our editors are trained to review articles to ensure the quoted material is supplemental to the author’s original works and not the star of the show. Quoted text should be used to supplement your original thoughts and ideas. When there are excessive sources cited it can read more like a research paper rather than a quality article that helps build your credibility with your readers.



Lance Winslow writes:

I tend to use the 5-line rule when composing in Microsoft Word but really prefer 3-4 lines myself, thus, I am forced to really pick out the best quote overall to summarize what in the source work I am trying to use to make a point or create a platform for my new innovation. My rule of thumb is that if those five lines are over 80-words, then I am doing something wrong, thus, I need to summarize more and leave a briefer quote. It takes practice to get it right.

I have had articles rejected for too many “references” at the bottom of the article, and yes, I was attempting to create a “mini-research” type paper, so that must have been the issue there.


Bonnie Moss writes:

I, too, have articles rejected for adding references at the bottom. Some of my articles require an in-depth research. I do not quote verbatim- but the reference books do help me to put down my thoughts in my own words, referencing to these books is the right thing for any writer to do. But- the article gets rejected since I can not quote the author on the article body. Research requires reading books, checking out on-line resources. I believe there should be a bit more leeway for writers when it comes to articles with a lot of research info, not just be rejected on the ground that there is not reference in the article body. I research, and write my own words, thanks to research, then reference at the end of the article. It is called bibliography.


Vojtech Vohanka writes:

Hi Bonnie,

I cannot agree more. This is the issue which I have just encountered as well.

Well, I don’t know if EzineArticles actually realize that every writer needs to study some background and get familiar with a topic first, particularly when it is a technical nature or industry related.

Thank you for your post.


asif lone writes:

This is again an area of great interest for writers. Not being sure of citing sources, I simply avoid using one. Now, with this excellent presentation, I certainly expect to do so in the near future.

Thank you, Vanessa.

Comment provided August 9, 2012 at 4:25 AM


Calvin Marketer writes:

I respect professional writers and author rights against infringement but I am not here to making a living for my writing.

I am here to write for exposure without infringing on anyone creative rights.

Being new to online marketing and article writing, I intend to get my ideas from public domain and private label rights. Till I can stand on my own.

How do I cite source when there is none noted and others are using the same sources?

Comment provided August 10, 2012 at 9:25 PM


Calvin Marketer writes:

Alright, the article guidelines has cleared up my question about citing source on public domain and private label right.

Article developed from those sources are a waste of my time went it come to Ezine Article submissions.

Now we understand the rules lets, play!

Comment provided August 10, 2012 at 11:03 PM


Paul writes:

I think one should be really careful when using other people’s work. It has to be cited every time the idea comes into writing.

Comment provided August 13, 2012 at 4:25 AM


Rahman Mehraby writes:

If the purpose of quoting someone’s words is for the mere reason of creating some argument, discussion, or any type of content, 5 lines don’t seem to be very short unless the quoted work hasn’t said the heart of the matter in a few words, like in a summarized sentence or short paragraph.

In such cases, I’d rather mention the author’s idea and tell my audience these are not the exact wording of this author, but they can visit the source site and check it our for themselves.

What do you think of this Vanessa?

Comment provided August 18, 2012 at 4:53 PM


Hi Rahman,

When using someone’s content directly you want to ensure you are giving credit where credit is due by quoting them directly. If you are discussing, in your own words, an idea developed by another you can certainly source the material. Properly sourcing the material in the article body, as outlined in this blog post, will ensure proper credit is being given to the source. This should be used sparingly and only as supplemental information, as you want to ensure you are providing your readers with 100% original and unique works in order to continue to build your credibility and trust with your readers.



Rahman Mehraby writes:

Thanks Vanessa!

Eventually, it all comes to one point for the author: we want to make sure the source of an idea is credited and our content remains original.


David Chester writes:

Regarding references to other articles and books, there is no editorial advice about what constitutes “too many”. It simply implies that the number should be within reason.

Would Vanessa or some managing editor who sets these advisory limits, kindly explain that my proposed article of about 4,000 words with 5 lines of quotes and 10 references (and 7 additional notes all at the end), exceeds some specific criterion, because otherwise it is impossible to know where the line is drawn.

I cannot imagine a situation in a serious item of writing, where the number of quotes and references to other works is so dense or high that it is right to claim that it was mostly copied. What proportion of quotes in an article is able to justify this somewhat unusual claim?

Comment provided August 20, 2012 at 10:26 AM


Hi David,

I see that you have been in contact with our Member Support Team. Please keep in mind, our platform is designed for you to submit your 100% original and unique works in order to drive highly targeted traffic back to your website or blog. Submitting articles that are written like research papers (while very informative) are not the best fit due to the abundant use of outside sources.



John Russo writes:

The article was one of many I found very helpful. It’s nice to write but nicer to get it right. One very long article I did as a personal informative project required additional links to other writers articles for additional support and information. I contacted the people to get permission and sent them a copy of the finished article for approval.

Comment provided September 10, 2012 at 10:39 PM


brahim writes:

that’s very informative.
thank you.

Comment provided September 15, 2012 at 9:40 AM


Pari Fouladvand writes:

very useful article about citing your sources.
thank you Vanessa!

Comment provided October 16, 2012 at 5:37 AM


d.dixon writes:

I had actually been looking for this because I research and would love to quote some of what I find. So thanks so much for writing this

Comment provided November 17, 2012 at 8:21 AM


patricia gaines writes:

This is very good information. I am grateful Ezine is dedicated to writers with safety tips and education.

Comment provided November 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM



Yes true one must be careful sharing other work, but i think its ok when you also shares the reference as well

Comment provided December 8, 2012 at 7:56 AM


Durwood Walker writes:

I’m still a confused:

Ok, I’m doing an article on The Healing Power of Music, I have had the experience of music healing me.
But I also got information from a magazine article and a couple of websites.

Does this mean I can’t or shouldn’t use the information gleaned from the magazine and websites to support my claim that music heals?

Comment provided April 26, 2013 at 9:45 AM


Hi Durwood,

All authors receive inspiration from various sources including information from magazines and other journals. The important factor here is that you use it solely for inspiration in creating your own works. If you wish to use some of the material then you will need to properly source it as the post outlines.



triveni jena writes:

Nice tip from Vanessa. The inspiration sources are actually now always mentioned. But it is good if mentioned.

Comment provided July 26, 2013 at 7:11 PM


Donna Patterson writes:

Question: If I write an article and point to my blog, are you saying said article cannot be posted on my blog? In essence I’d be writing double articles–one for Ezine and completely different articles as a posts on my blog?

Comment provided January 16, 2015 at 12:08 PM


Ritesh Agarwal writes:


Comment provided January 20, 2015 at 2:34 AM


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