Answered By: Jennifer Harris
Last Updated: Dec 27, 2018     Views: 46046

If you want to re-use portions of a paper you wrote for a previous assignment or course, you need to take care to avoid self-plagiarism. The APA Manual (6th edition, p. 170) defines self-plagiarism as “the practice of presenting one's own previously published work as though it were new." This includes entire papers, and also slightly altered work. Self-plagiarism is a violation of SNHU’s Academic Honesty policy (Online Student Academic Honesty Policy, Campus Student Academic Honesty Policy). To avoid self-plagiarism, you should request approval from your instructor to use portions of your prior work, and you also need to provide a proper citation within your paper.

If you are citing your own writing from a paper submitted for a previous course, then you would generally cite it as an unpublished manuscript. Here are specific examples of how it works in the three major citation styles:

APA Style

The APA Manual (6th edition, p. 211) discusses unpublished and informally published works, including those submitted to a university/college for a course. This is the general format for the citation:

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of manuscript. Unpublished manuscript, University affiliation.

For example (don't forget to indent the second and subsequent lines):

Fisher, J. (2017). This is the title of my paper. Unpublished manuscript, Southern New Hampshire University.

MLA Style

The Purdue OWL gives the following general format for citing an unpublished manuscript/document:

Author. Title of Manuscript/Document. Date of composition (at least year), along with "the name and location of the library, research institution, or personal collection housing the material."

For example (don't forget to indent the second and subsequent lines):

Fisher, James Daniel. This is the title of my paper. 2016. Southern New Hampshire University, New Hampshire.

The MLA Handbook (8th edition, p. 50) also allows writers to add optional elements to the citation if it gives insight to the reader as to the nature of the source and aids in tracking down the original source. If you felt it would clarify the nature of your source, you could add an indication that it is an unpublished paper.

For example (don't forget to indent the second and subsequent lines):

Fish, James Daniel. This is the title of my paper. 2017. Southern New Hampshire University, New Hampshire. Unpublished paper.

Chicago Style

Per the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition), unpublished works such as theses and dissertations are cited like books, with the exceptions that titles of unpublished works appear in quotations, not italics. Also, the type of paper, the academic institution and the date follow the title.

For published works, please consult the table of contents for the type of source and follow the formatting guidelines associated. 

For example:


1. James Fisher, “This is the title of my paper” (essay, Southern New Hampshire University, 2017), 3.


Fisher, James. “This is the title of my paper.” Essay, Southern New Hampshire University, 2017.

More Information:

For further help please contact the Wolak Learning Center at 603.645.9606 (Campus Students) and Online Writing Center at 866.721.1662 (Online Students) for assistance with specific citation details.

This information is intended to be a guideline, not expert advice. Please be sure to speak to your professor about the appropriate way to cite your own work in your class assignments and projects.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

The Modern Language Association of America. (2016). MLA Handbook. New York: Modern Language Association of America.

University of Chicago. (2017). The Chicago Manual of Style. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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