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Guides & Tutorial, Pao-yue Kong Library, The Polytechnic University of Hong Kong

Citation Guides: by Subjects

What is a Citation & What is Citation Style?

A citation is a way of identifying and giving credits to others' published works that you used to support your own research. Citations can also be used to locate sources of works, as well as avoid plagiarism.

A citation consists of two parts: in-text citation and reference list. In-text citations are brief references of sources within the text of the paper, while reference list is a complete list of references at the end of the paper.


A citation style defines the necessary information for a citation, how the information is ordered, and what format citations should follow. 

Generally, the citation style you use depends on your discipline. Check with your instructor or supervisor if you are not sure which style you should use for your assignment. Some commonly used styles for different faculties are listed in the table below.

What is Plagiarism & How to Avoid Plagiarism?

Plagiarism refers to passing off someone else's work or ideas as your own without giving proper acknowledgement of the sources.


How to avoid plagiarism:

  • Restate the idea in your own words (paraphrase) and cite the source properly; or
  • Quote someone's words without change using quotation marks (direct quote) and cite the source properly
  • In either way, all the sources cited in the work need to be included in the reference list following a standard citation style.

Good practices to avoid plagiarism:

  1. When in doubt, always cite!
  2. ​Keep a list of all the reference materials you consulted and of course make notes (e.g. which are quotes and which are your own words)
  3. Use a reference management tool (e.g. EndNote) to help you organize references and make citations
  4. Have better time management, i.e. plan your work earlier
  5. Check with your supervisor or instructor the referencing guidelines for your assignment or essay

How to Cite Properly in Different Subject Areas?

Faculty (Subject) Commonly Used Citation Style Link to Citation Guide by Subject
Applied Science & Textiles (FAST) APA / Harvard
Business (FB) APA / Harvard
Construction & Environment (FCE) IEEE / Harvard
Engineering (FENG) IEEE / APA
Health Sciences & Social Sciences (FHSS) APA
Humanities (FH) APA / MLA
School of Design (SD) APA
School of Hotel & Tourism Management (SHTM) APA