Plagiarism Quick-Guide

Terms to Know


Using other people’s words and ideas without clearly acknowledging the source of the information

Common Knowledge

Facts that can be found in numerous places and are likely to be widely known.

Example: John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States in 1960. This is generally known information- You do not need to document this fact


You must document facts that are not generally known, or ideas that interpret facts.

Example: Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever to have played the game. This idea is not a fact but an interpretation- You need to cite the source


Using someone’s words directly. When you use a quote, place the passage you are using in quotation marks, and document the source according to a standard documenting style.

Example: According to John Smith in The New York Times, “37% of all children under the age of 10 live below the poverty line”.

Strategies for Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Submit your own work
  • Put quotations around everything that comes directly from the text, especially when taking notes.
  • Paraphrase, but be sure that you are not simply rearranging or replacing a few words
  • Keep a source journal, notepad, note cards- annotated bibliographies can be especially beneficial
  • Use the style manual assigned for the class
  • Get help from the writing center or library

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