Does everything you write in your paper have to be cited?
No. You do not have to cite your own, original ideas or words UNLESS you have already used them in another paper. You also don't have to cite anything that is "common knowledge."
Common knowledge is information your average reader would know. How do you determine if something is common knowledge? Ask yourself if you knew the information before taking the class. If you didn't, the information is not common knowledge.
Even with this gauge, common knowledge is a tricky issue because what is common knowledge for you may not be common knowledge for someone else. The best rule is when in doubt, cite!
The Manhattanville College Library has good information on this topic if you need further explanation.
June 15th, 2004