What are the four types of academic citation?

This is the first of three lessons about Citation Types. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.   

– Introduce the concepts of referencing and academic citations

– Explore the source-based information that should and should not be cited in an academic assignment

– Provide examples of the four types of citation

Lesson 1

Because referencing is an academic process that’s rarely required outside of academic contexts, many students find it somewhat challenging at first to know precisely when and how to reference. With many aspects to consider such as endnotes and footnotes, reference lists, citations and search terms, it’s no wonder that new university students feel a little confused at first. This short course on citation types is therefore intended to help clarify this subject for students by introducing the concepts and kinds of citations (Lesson 1), by focusing specifically on integral and non-integral citation types (Lesson 2) and by exploring how multiple and secondary citations are correctly used in academic assignments.


What are citations?

Whenever you include concepts, definitions, ideas or evidence in your work that are originally taken from another source, you will be required at university to acknowledge to the reader that you’ve done so. The reasons for this are: (1) so that you do not take credit for someone else’s work, (2) so that you can avoid being accused of plagiarism, and (3) so that your tutors and anyone reading your assignment can locate, verify and potentially use the same sources that you used.

To acknowledge every published source that’s included as support for your work, you’ll need to use citations. As can be seen in the examples below, citations are short pieces of text that indicate the family names of the source authors, the year of publication of that source, and sometimes also the page numbers or URL:

When are citations used?

Citations are most often (though not always) placed at the very end of sentences, such as in the two examples (a) and (b) below:

However, knowing exactly when and when not to use citations can be challenging for some students, particularly for the first few essays they write. As a general rule, the following features should always be cited in an academic essay:

  • Facts and statistics
  • Diagrams and images
  • Difficult concepts or subject-specific vocabulary
  • Other people’s arguments, claims, ideas and opinions

The following features, however, should not be cited:

  • The writer’s own opinions X
  • The writer’s personal experiences X
  • Commonly known dates, events or facts X


What are the different types of citation?

There are four different types of citation that students should learn to use in their academic assignments. These four types are:


1. Integral Citations

2. Non-Integral Citations

3. Multiple-Source Citations

4. Secondary Citations


As will be explained in more detail in Lessons 2 and 3, each of these citation types is used for slightly different reasons and in slightly different ways. Using the examples below for each of these four types, can you guess how and why these citations might are used differently?

In brief, while integral citations (1) come at the beginning of a sentence and place an emphasis on the researcher or source author, non-integral citations (2) remove such emphasis by being placed in brackets at the end of a sentence or clause. Multiple-source citations (3), on the other hand, which are generally used sparingly by writers, are required when more than one source is being cited at any one time, perhaps to provide additional strength to a fact or argument. Finally, secondary citations (4) might also be used if the writer wishes to indicate that the information being cited is from a source that they haven’t directly read.

To learn more about these four citation types, students should continue studying with Lessons 2 and 3 of this subject. Students may also wish to check their understanding of this lesson by unlocking our Lesson 1 activities. 


Please note: while there are many different possible referencing styles such as APA or Chicago, all examples demonstrated in this lesson are of the Harvard Style of referencing as described in the book Cite Them Right.

1 of 3 Lessons Completed


Once you’ve completed all three lessons in this short course about Citation Types, you might then wish to download our Lesson Worksheets to check your progress or print for your students. These professional PDF worksheets can be easily accessed for only a few Academic Marks.

Lesson 1 explores the topic: What are the four types of academic citation? Our Lesson 1 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

Lesson 2 explores the topic: Should I mix integral and non-integral citations? Our Lesson 2 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

Lesson 3 explores the topic: How can I use multiple and secondary citations? Our Lesson 3 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

To save yourself 2 Marks, click on the button below to gain unlimited access to all of our Citation Types Lesson Worksheets. This All-in-1 Pack includes every lesson, activity and answer key related this topic in one handy and professional PDF.


There are currently no PowerPoint activities, additional teacher resources or audio and video recordings created for this topic. Please come back again next semester.


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