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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

    Posted by Jessica Bowers Hopson

    3 Tips for Properly Citing Written and Visual Content

    One of the great things about the Internet is the ease with which readers can share content they find interesting. In fact, our goal as content marketers is create something so interesting that thousands of people want to share what we have posted.

    Great content also includes links from other subject matter experts. In fact, interesting blog articles include shared subjects, quotes and pictures. 

    Most writers and photographers are happy to have you include their content in your post. It increases their reach across the Internet and provides more exposure for their work as well. But if you plan to include someone else’s thoughts in your work, do them the simple favor of giving them the credit.

    Citing the Source

    Remember back to those research papers you had to write in high school and college—the ones that had to include proper citations and a bibliography page at the end? There was good reason for that. Your teachers wanted to make sure you learned how to attribute other works to the right people.

    Writing a blog post or online article is not much different. Granted, no one expects you to include a bibliography or detailed footnote citations in every post. But you should provide a correct link to the source of information you are referencing.

    In order to give proper credit to the original creator of the work you are borrowing for your own work, follow these tips to ensure you create an atmosphere of sharing and don’t end up looking like you are trying to pass off someone else’s work as your own. 

    3 Tips for Giving Content Creators Their Due Credit

    1. Citing Written Content

    Blogs are great resources for sharing content. If you’ve come across another writer’s work that you want to include in your post, that’s great! But you have to give credit to the creator; passing off someone else’s words as your own is stealing. Journalists can give credit by simply using quotation marks around a borrowed phrase. As bloggers, we need to go a step further to give proper attribution to the source.

    Corey Eridon of HubSpot provided a great example of how to cite a source in your blog:

    Quoting a source on your blog should include hyperlinks to the author's name, original work and Twitter profile.

    It is important to not only use quotes around the information you pull from the source, but also provide a direct link to the page on which you found the information (hyperlink the author’s name to the specific post to make it easy for the reader to find the data). It is also polite to link to the person’s company, if applicable, and Twitter handle. Whether you are quoting a passage or an entire article, your attribution should follow the same format.

    Corey also mentions in her post on this topic that you should pay attention to companies’ content usage guidelines. Some companies have special requirements for borrowing their content. Quick research on a company’s site can let you know if you comply with any usage guidelines.

    2. Citing Social Content

    Sometimes, you want to share content or attribute works through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Even though these platforms make it much easier to share content, you still need to give proper credit. Even a statement that is only 140 characters was still someone’s brainchild, so they deserve the recognition for what they created.

    When sharing something via Twitter, it is as easy as including “via @username” at the end of the Tweet. If you are retweeting but have to edit the content slightly, make sure to use “MT” at the beginning of your tweet. Alerting readers that you are posting a “modified tweet” still gives credit to the creator but acknowledges that you changed the wording slightly.

    Facebook makes it easy to share content with a built-in share button that automatically posts someone else’s content to your page and attributes the author.

    Facebook's Share button makes it easy to attribute content to the original source.

    If you want to create your own content but mention another company’s or user’s information that was not originally posted on Facebook, include a link to their Facebook profile within your post. (If they don’t have a Facebook account, linking to the website will suffice.)

    3. Citing Visual Content

    Photographs and imagery make blog posts readable. However, photos can be easy targets for copyright violations. If you aren’t careful, you or your company could get sacked with fines for improper usage of visual content.

    So how do you include photos in your blog without fear of being fined?

    Fortunately, there are several resources online that offer images in the public domain (meaning the copyright has expired or no longer exists). There are libraries of free images you can search through, such as FreeDigitalPhotos or FreeRangeStock. Even HubSpot offers free business photo resources for your blog.

    You can also source images available for public use directly through a Google Image search. Clicking on the “Search Tools” menu, then selecting the “Usage Rights” dropdown menu will allow you to filter search results by “Labeled for Reuse with Modification” (meaning these are images available in the public doman).

    Google Image Searches can filter results by those photographs labeled for reuse.

    If you can’t find the image you want for free, you can create your own through sites like Canva. This graphics-creation website provides a library of free and approved photos and icons you can use to build images, graphics and infographics for your blog or website.

    For additional resources, check out our list of 11 free photo resources. (Need more? Courtney Seiter of Buffer has compiled a list of more than 50 free photo sources.)

    Share and Share Alike

    Taking the time to properly cite an author for information you are borrowing for your own content, whether written or visual, will not only keep you out of trouble but will also go a long way to helping you make more friends and acquaintances online. And the more online friends you make, the easier it will be to share content and get your content shared in the future.



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