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COM 161

This guide will help students in COM 161 get started with research.

Citing Sources in a Speech

Citing your sources just means telling where you got particular ideas or bits of information that did not originate in your own head.  Sometimes this is called giving credit, attributing, or referencing.

When you cite sources in an oral presentation, there are 3 basic parts:

1. Orally cite sources of what you say

2. Adapt a citation format to cite the sources of what is written on your visuals

3. Have a full reference list handy for answering questions

In an oral presentation, your audience can’t flip back and forth between in-text citations and a reference list, nor can they look for a footnote or an endnote: you need to tell them where the information, idea, or words come from as you say it. Since listening to a live presentation is a linear process (you can’t skim or jump around and hear it out of chronological order), it’s best to introduce the source before you present the information, so your audience members are ready to evaluate the information with the source (and your view of it) in mind when they hear the material from the source. The citation needs to be brief, because it’s hard to digest the citation while evaluating the information, both of which are given within a few seconds’ time.




Ineffective: “Margaret Brownwell writes in her book Dieting Sensibly that fad diets telling you ‘eat all you want’ are dangerous and misguided.” (Although the speaker cites and author and book title, who is Margaret Brownwell?  No information is presented to establish her authority on the topic.)

Better: “Margaret Brownwell, professor of nutrition at the Univeristy of New Mexico, writes in her book, Dieting Sensibly, that …” (The author’s credentials are clearly described.)

Magazine, Journal, or Newspaper Article

Ineffective: “An article titled ‘Biofuels Boom’ from the ProQuest database notes that midwestern energy companies are building new factories to convert corn to ethanol.” (Although ProQuest is the database tool used to retrieve the information, the name of the newspaper or journal and publication date should be cited as the source.)

Better: “An article titled ‘Biofuels Boom’ in a September 2010 issue of Journal of Environment and Development” notes that midwestern energy companies…”(Name and date of the source provides credibility and currency of the information as well as giving the audience better information to track down the source.)


Ineffective: “According to, possible recovery from autism includes dietary interventions.” (No indication of the credibility or sponsoring organization or author of the website is given)

Better: “According to pediatrician Jerry Kartzinel, consultant for, an organization that provides information about autism treatment options, possibly recovery from autism includes dietary interventions.” (author and purpose of the website is clearly stated.)

Note: some of the above examples are quoted from:
Metcalfe, Sheldon. Building a Speech. 7th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2010. Google Books. Web. 17 Mar. 2012.

Some content created by Bucks County Community College. Accessed Feb 3, 2017.