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Citing Sources in a Speech

What is plagiarism?

According to the St. Martin’s Handbook, “To plagiarize is to use other people’s ideas or words without acknowledging the source. The rule for avoiding plagiarism as a public speaker is straightforward: Any source that requires credit in written form should be acknowledged in oral form.” In general, you should cite your sources whether you are quoting directly or paraphrasing.

How do I avoid plagiarism?

It is essential to let your audience know exactly where you got your information. You do not have to include entire references in your oral presentations, but you must give your audience enough information so that they can track down the source on their own.

How do I cite sources in my speech?

Direct Quotations:
These should be acknowledged either as “And I quote…” or “As [the source] put it…”.

Book: include title and author
Incorrect: “According to Jones, the best way to…”
Correct: “According to April Jones, author of Readings on Gender….”

Periodical (magazine): include title and date
Incorrect: “Time magazine wrote…”
Correct: “Time, March 28, 2005, explains…”
Correct: “The New York Times, June 5, 2006, explained it this way: …”

Journal: include journal title, date, and author
Incorrect: “Smith writes…”
Correct: “Morgan Smith writes in the Fall 2005 issue of Science…”

Web site (organization site or other longstanding site): include title
Incorrect: “I found this on Google” or “At, they argue that…”
Correct: “The Center for Disease Control web site includes information…”

Website (news/magazine): include title and date
Incorrect: “ states….” Or “ writes…” (without date)
Correct: “, on March 28, 2005, states…” (note that CNN is an exception to the “don’t use address rule” because the site is known by that name)

Interviews, lecture notes, or personal communication: include name and credentials of source
Incorrect: “Alice Smith said…”
Correct: “Alice Smith, member of Class of 2009, had this to say about her experience at ASC...” or “According to Dr. West, a professor of Mathematics at Emory University…”


  • Keep in mind that it's easy to start falling into the "According to..." broken record. In order to avoid this routine try to change it up a bit each time with phrases like:
    • "This is also supported by..."
    • "April Smith, founder of ... says"
  • You can note when large sections of your presentation come from one source (as long as it is clear to the audience).
  • It might be helpful to include a bibliography at the end of your PowerPoint presentation or in a handout if you feel that the audience should see the full citation.
  • Finally, citations are important to make your speech sound credible and it is better to over cite than to under cite, however try not to sound like a vocal annotated bibliography.
Questions about citing your sources? Visit the Center for Writing and Speaking.
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