How to Avoid Plagiarism: About this Module

This module describes:

  • Three ways to use source material: quote it, paraphrase it, or summarize it
  • Three essential techniques for managing source materials: introduce it, cite it, and list a reference to it
  • Eight important guidelines to help you avoid plagiarism mistakes

At the end of the module, you’ll take a short quiz. If you answer every question correctly, you’ll receive a "Certificate of Completion."

Unless otherwise noted, this module uses the American Psychological Association (APA) style. This style is being adopted for the sake of consistency and because it is used most often in UMUC courses. The APA style is called an "author-date" style because of its emphasis on the date of publication, which immediately follows the author’s name. This style commonly supports medical, research and technical writing found in scientific journals and papers.

Other documentation styles include Modern Languages Association (MLA), Chicago/Turabian, the Council of Biology Editors (CBE), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Documentation Styles

American Psychological Association (APA)

Used at UMUC in the social sciences, life and earth sciences, and business. May be used in lab sciences, but it is important to check with your instructor to see which style is preferred. Emphasizes author’s name and date of publication (page numbers are included for quotations).

Example of an in-text citation:

According to one source, "Major depressive episodes occur twice as often in women as in men, but the reason for this is not known" (Burns, 1999, p. 57).

Modern Language Association (MLA)

Used at UMUC in English, foreign languages, and humanities courses. Emphasizes author’s name and page.

Example of an in-text citation:

The unnamed narrator observes, "I am only the servant of life. He is an inhabitant" (Salter, 58).


Used at UMUC in history courses. Unlike APA and MLA styles, Turabian retains the convention of footnotes or endnotes. For more information, see the Chicago Manual of Style or Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (a guide to Chicago style intended for students).

Example of a footnote:

1 James Salter, A Sport and a Pastime (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1967), 58.


Consult your instructor about the preferred documentation style to be used in your class.