Webpages expire, books and articles get lost, photographs and films degrade. Citations are necessary to assure that the next researcher can find the same information through different means.
Citing is important for your scholarly credibility, and for building on previous research. You may have a good idea, but simply stating it does not make it true or believable. Give your ideas validity and support by citing established authors.
Avoiding plagiarism is key to academic honesty. Nothing is worse to an author than discovering their hard work has been stolen and claimed as original by someone else. Citations give authors their due credit.
Parts of a citation for a book:
Depending on your field of study, writing citation styles vary. A style guide describes the standards for writing and for the format of documents. There are three major citation styles used on the Ann Arbor campus:
Many other organizations, such as the American Medical Association or the American Chemical Association, have their own citation styles. Check the organizations' webpages or publications for details.
Many style manuals are available in print in the various libraries on campus. Use Library Catalog Search to find ones of interest. If you're not sure what citation style to use, ask your instructor.
There are online tools to help you organize citations and format your bibliography.
Bibliographic or Citation Management Software is a broad term for programs that will save citations, and automatically format them according to the users' preferred style.
Zotero is one of the programs available to U-M students. It is a useful tool for keeping track of many citations and saves valuable formatting time.
There are other bibliographic management tools available as well. Here is a link to a guide with additional information: http://guides.lib.umich.edu/citationmanagementoptions
Be aware that citation management tools are very handy, but can sometimes display citation data incorrectly. Check your citations against the proper style guidelines, just to be sure the formatting is correct.