With academic writing, acknowledging and citing sources are common practices. With content marketing, giving credit where credit is due is just as necessary.
In academia, copying words exactly from a text and writing them off as your own is not only unethical, but it also is grounds for dismissal. In content marketing, the repercussions can be even more severe. As Darren Rowse recalls in a recent post, “I’ve seen people’s profiles and credibility ripped to shreds because they haven’t done it [crediting sources] right.”
As a writer with an extensive academic background, I’m knowledgeable about MLA and APA documentation styles and the ways to appropriately cite sources for both. While blog writing is a bit more informal than a thesis or dissertation or even a college essay, using the same citing techniques is helpful to ensure that readers know where content is coming from.
In his post, Rowse identifies the common ways in which blog writers should correctly quote others’ works. Yet even paraphrased information should be cited, Rowse notes. Just as paraphrases and summaries require citations in academic writing, acknowledging another person’s ideas is good form in content marketing.
In academia, parenthetical citations are the standard way to cite sources. Blog posts, due to their informal nature, may not elicit such citing formalities and a writer can get by with simply hyperlinking phrases or words (as I’ve done in this post). I would, though, recommend more structured citations–be they parenthetical citations or footnotes and reference pages–for more permanent works like e-books or guides. As I always tell other writers, over-citing is never wrong, so you shouldn’t feel shy about using more formal citation styles in any of your content marketing.
When it comes to referencing others’ words in blogs and content marketing, the more effort you put into citing and acknowledging others’ sources, the better chances you’ll have of not violating copyright or “fair use” laws. For a more detailed overview of how to follow “fair use” and when to seek permissions, check out this post from Jane Friedman, which Rowse links to as well. And, as always, remember: there is no danger is referring to others’ works, as long as you do it the right way.