How to avoid plagiarism when you write a college essay

Plagiarism is the bane of every student. While no student sets out to purposefully plagiarize, many students accidentally make the mistake and they reap the consequences. Fortunately, with just a little extra care, it is very easy to avoid plagiarism when writing about any topic for any class.

What Is It

In order to avoid plagiarizing, you should remember what it is. When you plagiarize, you take someone else’s words and claim them as your own. This does not mean that you write that you wrote those words, but the fact that the essay has your name on the top of the paper means that those words are now yours.

How Most Students Make Mistakes

Students tend to make the same plagiarism mistakes on college essays. Since many students begin their college essays with famous quotes, leaving the attribution off of the quote is a common problem. While most people are aware that Shakespeare wrote, “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit,” is it vital that you include that he wrote that line. If you do not cite where borrowed lines come from, you are technically plagiarizing.

Cite Your Sources

Not only should you cite every quote that you include, but you should also include things like song lyrics. Students enjoy including those in their work, but some forget to saw who wrote them. Not every song was written by the person who performed the song, so take time to research who the writer really was.

Know the Citation Styles

You should also get to know the citation style that your teacher or professor expects you to use. Even if your professors does not specifically tell you to cite your sources, you should always understand that it is expected, especially at the collegiate level. Even if you only use one source for a quote in your introduction, be sure to properly cite it and add the source at the end of your essay.

Be Extra Careful, Your Reputation is on the Line

Since it is easier than ever before to plagiarize, it is easier than ever before for professors to catch students plagiarizing. The consequences can be harsh and can include expulsion from college without any refund. Some people have also been known to press criminal charges (but probably not from Shakespeare). Stay alert and get to know your citation styles to avoid making huge mistakes that could cost you your college tuition and more.

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