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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Using Primary Sources Citing Primary Sources
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How to Cite Electronic Sources

Citing primary sources correctly is one of the most important parts of studying primary sources, for a number of reasons.

It is important--and ethically necessary--to provide full credit to the creators and publishers of documents, and to allow future scholars to find the source quickly and correctly. Citing a primary source is also crucial to critical thinking and analysis because it requires that the student think carefully about where the source came from, who made it, and in what context the student first discovered it.

Today, most students have access to primary sources through electronic means, such as the Library of Congress Web site. To be sure students are using the best citation format, you might want to consult the examples listed below.

Citation Examples for Library of Congress Electronic Resources

Great variation exists among accepted styles, and different disciplines rely on different style guidelines. It is not possible to give a single example of documentation for the digitized materials available on the Library of Congress Web site. The examples below use style guidelines that are commonly used in history (Chicago) and language arts (MLA) disciplines.

When you search the Library’s digital collections, the resulting pages have temporary URLs. Some online materials require a special procedure for finding a permanent URL. Step-by-step instructions for bookmarking items are found in Bookmarking/Linking.