A citation describes a source and provides information about it in a standard format. Citations are located in the bibliography, works cited, or references of an article, book, chapter, encyclopedia article, etc. Citations enable the reader to identify and find any sources listed.
Citations also give credit to other authors for their ideas, rather than making it look like the author of the work was the original source for an idea.
Generally, citations tell you the title of the work, who wrote it, the date it was published, where it was published, and who published it.
Citing your sources shows that you did research on your topic. You gathered evidence relevant to your work and that makes it stronger.
Citing shows which ideas come from others and which work is your own.
Citing your sources allows your audience to find the sources so that they can learn more about the topic and evaluate the sources for themselves. Your audience can read and critique the sources you used, and critique the arguments you made based on those sources.
Citing your sources acknowledges the contribution other researchers had on your work. You want other writers to cite your work because it shows when your work has influenced another.
Citing your sources demonstrates your academic honesty and integrity.
Properly citing your sources helps you avoid plagiarism. Using quotes sparingly and good paraphrasing also helps you avoid plagiarism. Both quotes and paraphrasing should be cited.