Guy With Laptop and Words

This guy is happy because someone properly attributed his work! (Photo purchased from Shutterstock)

The Internet is a plethora of information, and while it may have been easy to avoid plagiarizing in your writing while doing book research and writing bibliographies in high school and in college, it is easy to fall into the bad habit of not citing your sources.

This can lead to unintentional plagiarism. While it may seem benign, it is still an issue. People work hard to get their information out there to the masses—make sure you’re giving credit where credit is due.

Hyperlinking—Oh Boy!

It is super easy to link to your sources of information in web content. When using almost any word processing program, Google Drive documents or WordPress, there will be a hyperlink button or menu option. Just highlight the text you want to attribute to a specific source, select the hyperlink option and a box will pop up for you to enter the URL. Boom, you’ve attributed the information to the proper source and avoided plagiarizing.

What About Photos?

Including a photo in your blog post or article is a great idea, and Google Images or Flickr are great places to start searching for photos. However, if you aren’t familiar with Creative Commons or how to properly give credit for photos used in your post, you could really upset an artist—or even face legal action.

Make sure to include a caption that not only adds more interesting information that ties in why you’re using that photo with an article, but also states where you got the photo and who created that image. If your article or blog post is for commercial purposes, you will want to take it a step further and contact the artist or photographer and make sure you have permission to use their image. Remember, artists (just like writers) work really hard to create amazing content, and they deserve credit.

When in Doubt, Attribute

Even if it may seem like common knowledge (which you typically don’t have to attribute to a source), referencing outside and official sources also enhances your credibility. It shows that you put time and effort into making sure you’re giving the best possible information to your readers or customers. It can also be a great way to foster a relationship with a potential business partner or collaborator, or anyone else with which you want to be in good standing.

Long story short, give credit to those who put a lot of time and effort into creating quality content! Something you would probably also appreciate someone doing for you. Using Content Runner to find high-quality writers who use these best practices can also help you avoid this issue.

Here are some links to help get you up to speed when sourcing your content:

Associated Press News Values & Principles

What is Creative Commons?

Getting Digital Attribution Right – Poynter