Writing an essay requires backing it up with facts. As a student, you should know how to identify facts and use them in to support the points you raise in your written work. Further, you also need to know when you need to cite sources and when you may not. One good and important source of ideas and information are articles.


Before we proceed to how to cite articles as sources, first, let us define what a fact is. It is something that is demonstrated to exist or known to have existed. You need to use facts to support your points because they are evidence. They prove that such facts really do exist and they are also evidence that you have done some research about your topic. You can use articles as sources of facts. When you do so, you should know when you need to cite them as sources and when you may not.


You need to support a point, claim or opinion if and when they are not based on facts which are well-known or common knowledge. Here are some of the instances when you need to do so.

1. The claim you make could be challenged.
2. You are quoting what an author wrote or a what a person said.
3. You state a specific claim which is not common knowledge.
4. You are paraphrasing information from a source. In other words, you are restating some words or thoughts giving the same meaning but changing the how they are stated.
5. When you give an opinion that is authoritative or made as an expert.
6. You got the idea from another person including those through email or conversation.


Here are some examples of claims you need to support when you use or state them. If you include in your essay statements like these, you need to cite your source article. The reason behind is that aside from supporting them because they are not well-known, you are also giving your readers the direction of where to find them if they want to verify or know more about them.

1. The freezing speed of hot water is faster than cold water.
2. Dalmatians are less friendly that poodles.
3. American Chestnut trees are endangered species.
4. There is higher risk of accident when you are eating while driving than talking on the cellphone while driving.
5. A vote counter is once invented by Thomas Edison.

On the other hand, you do not need to cite any source like an article when you state common knowledge. They are things which many people know. Further, they can be easily looked by the reader if they do not know them or want to verify their truth.

1. Bears go into hibernation during the winter.
2. The freezing point of fresh water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. During the fall, many trees shed their leaves.

Just like the above example of common knowledge, you also do not need to cite sources for well-known facts. They are also things which many people know and can be easily looked up by the reader if they do not know them or want to verify their truth.

1. The early spring is the best time to plant flowers.
2. Holland is usually associated with its tulips.
3. Canada is composed of people who know many languages.

If you are not sure whether you need to cite a source or not, you can play safe and cite it anyway. However, you would not want to fill your work with some citations which are not necessary because it will not be pleasing to the eyes of your most important reader who is your teacher who will grade you on it. Thus, you need to practice making some judgements.