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Mathematics: Graduate Student Library Orientation: Citing Sources

This guide is a companion to the Graduate Student Library Orientation (GSLO) presentation, geared to teaching grad students the information literacy skills necessary to performing graduate-level research.


The University of Hawaii Student Conduct Code defines plagiarism this way:


The term "plagiarism" includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials.


Being found guilty of plagiarism can result in your dismissal from the university. Get into the habit of citing your sources.  It is a good ethical practice, and provides you with a way of collecting resources that you can consult in the future.

You are probably familiar with APA, MLA, and Chicago styles of citations for research papers.  For mathematics papers there is no standard citation style, but a good one to learn is the one used by the American Mathematical Society.

Ask your advisor or professor about the citation style they prefer.  Regardless of the style, apply it consistently throughout your paper and make sure to proofread it the same way you would proofread the rest of your paper.

The Citing Process

Citations have two components:

  1. The tags in your text that indicate the material is from a source other than your own brain.a brain!  These tags are called in-text citations.
  2. The list of sources you cited. This list is placed at the end of your paper.  The entries on this list are called references. Depending on the style of citation you choose, this list may be labeled References, Works Cited, or Bibliography.


In-text citations are included in the body of your paper to refer the reader to the source of the information you used. They are short notes enclosed in parentheses or brackets and contain information like an author's name, the year that a source was published, or the page number to which you referred.  The AMS style of in-text citation can simply be a number or an alpha-numeric code. The format depends on the citation style you choose.  Some examples are

  • (Chyba 2013) - Author name and year of publication
  • (Jovovic 24) - Author name and page number
  • [4] - AMS "plain" style
  • [Ma97] - AMS "alpha" style of using first two letters of author's name and last two digits of year of publication.


The format for your list of sources depends on the citation style you chose, but each entry on the list usually includes the

  • author's name
  • title of the book or article
  • name of the publisher or journal
  • date of publication
  • pages on which the source material appears.

Pay close attention to the way that the style handles capitalization, abbreviations, punctuation, and spacing.  Also, note that the order of the entries can vary.  The citation may require the entries to be alphabetized by author, or be in the order they appear in your paper.

LaTeX style Citations

If you are using LaTeX to compose your paper, you can use the built-in citing commands to easily format your in-text citations as well as your references.  Here are some resources for more information: