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Citing Sources

Referencing, avoiding plagiarism, and presentation of the Chicago Style

What Should a Citation Include?

A correct citation should allow identifying a source without ambiguity. It should therefore include all essential metadata, including the title of the work, the name of the author(s) (which can be physical persons or organisations), and the date of the work. These metadata differ for each type of document (book, journal article, report, image...). A detailed description of the necessary and less necessary metadata can be found in this document by the EPFL library. The French original version is more comprehensive.

Readers should also be able to locate the document easily if they wish to consult it.

Documents under a Creative Commons license must also be attributed correctly.

Citation Styles

There are thousands of different styles. The styles used in the fields studied at the Graduate Institute fall into two main categories:

  • author-date styles: in-text citations have the following form (author, date)
  • note styles: citations appear in footnotes, providing abridged or full citations.

In both cases, there is also a bibliography or reference list at the end of the text, listing all the references that appear in the text in alphabetical order.

The remaining pages of this guide will introduce the Chicago Style, a style commonly used at the Graduate Institute.

Law students should use specific legal styles. Our Legal Citation guide gives the main features of 3 of them.

In all cases, students should speak with their supervisor before choosing a style.

Some computer programmes, called citation managers, allow to automate the citation process and are really useful. Training sessions to learn how to use one of these programmes, Zotero, are regularly organised at the Institute. A Zotero online guide is also available