How to Avoid Plagiarism

Throughout your studies and career, you will certainly be under pressure to deliver or improve results quickly. It is important to efficiently manage your time and effort so you are not tempted to assume that the only way to finish your assignment is to plagiarize. To avoid plagiarism, use quotation marks for a portion of a text reproduced literally, or paraphrase by reformulating the authors’ ideas in your own words. In both cases, the original source should be cited.


  • To give the author(s) credit for their work;
  • To allow the reader to find and contextualize the information from those sources;
  • To demonstrate your knowledge of seminal works and of the literature related to the topic of your research project;
  • To avoid legal sanctions imposed by the academic or professional community.


It is essential to cite your sources in the following cases:

  1. When you reproduce literally an excerpt of a text;
  2. When you rephrase, in your own words, a portion of a text. This is called paraphrase.

Also, you should cite the source of all types of documents that you use (text in print or electronic format, images, photographs, graphics, statistics, etc.). This rule applies to both published and non-published documents, so all documents used should be cited, whether they are in the public domain not.

It is not necessary to cite common knowledge. For example, if you mention in an academic work, that in principle, water freezes at zero degrees Celsius, you do not have to mention the source of this information because it is common knowledge.

If you cannot determine whether the information you want to use in your work is common knowledge, ask your professor.


When you copy-paste an excerpt of a text, you must enclose it in quotation marks and cite the source.

If you paraphrase the text using your own words, there is no need for quotation marks; however, you must still cite the source.

Ask your professors what bibliographic style you should use in your assignments or use one of the two styles recommended by the Library: APA or IEEE. The APA style is recommended for all engineering fields except for electrical engineering, computer engineering, and engineering physics, where the IEEE style is the norm.


There are tools that can help you save time when producing reference lists and bibliographies, which require great attention to detail. Bibliographic management software can automatically generate reference lists and bibliographies according to a citation style and thus reduce the number of formatting errors.

As a Polytechnique Montréal student, for the duration of your studies, you can use EndNote for free. For more information, consult the EndNote guide.

The Library offers periodically free EndNote and BibTeX workshops in French and in English. Register for the next workshops through the Activity Calendar on the Library homepage.


If you have any questions about how to cite documents, do not hesitate to contact the Library at The Library maintains the citation guide.


Conferences and workshops are offered every term; check the Soutien à la réussite website for the schedule of activities.