Nowadays, information is available at our fingertips. Among the myriad of sources, PDFs stand as a common and reliable format, often containing valuable data and insights. When it comes to using PDF information in our own work, it's crucial to give credit where it's due. Do you know what does it mean to cite a PDF, why it matters, and how to cite a PDF correctly? Read this article by SwifDoo PDF to find out the answer.

What Does It Mean to Cite a PDF

Citing a PDF means referencing the PDF you used as a source of information in your work. The citation allows others to trace back to the original source and gives credit to the author of the work.

The way to cite a PDF depends on the citation style you are using and the type of source the PDF contains. There are three common citation styles, namely, MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), and Chicago style.

Why Citing a PDF Matters

Citing a PDF is essential for the following reasons:

  • Acknowledgment: It recognizes the contributions of others and avoids plagiarism by distinguishing between your ideas and those of others.
  • Verification: PDF citations allow readers to confirm quotes or information and explore the cited author's arguments in depth.
  • Reference: When you cite a PDF, you provide a way for readers to revisit external material you've mentioned, indicating the quality and authority of your references.

In brief, thorough and accurate citations are vital as they provide sufficient bibliographic details for readers to identify and access the original resource if needed.

How to Cite a PDF

To cite a PDF, you should identify the source type (book or journal article) and use the appropriate format. Here’s how to cite a PDF using the three popular citation styles:


  • Book citation: Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year of Publication. Database Name, DOI or URL.
  • Journal article citation: Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, vol. Volume Number, no. Issue Number, Year of Publication, pp. Page Numbers. Database Name, DOI or URL.


  • Book citation: Last Name, First Name. (Year of Publication). Title of Book. Publisher. DOI or URL.
  • Journal article citation: Last Name, First Name. (Year of Publication). Title of Article. Title of Journal, Volume Number(Issue Number), Page Numbers. DOI or URL.

Chicago style

  • Book citation: Last Name, First Name. Book Title. Publisher, Year of Publication. PDF.
  • Journal article citation: Last Name, First Name. “Article Title” Title of Journal Volume Number, Issue Number (Year of Publication): Page Numbers. DOI or URL.

If you are still unsure how to cite a PDF properly, try a citation generator like Scribbr’s APA Citation Generator to generate flawless citations automatically.

While reading PDF materials you’ve found online before you write your paper, you can use SwifDoo PDF to highlight key points and make annotations. This software also offers a search tool with which you can search for a word in a PDF quickly to find needed information.

All-in-one PDF Software: SwifDoo PDF
  • Add link to PDF content quickly
  • Annotate PDF files with 10+ tools
  • View and edit PDF files effortlessly
Free Download
Windows 11/10/8.1/7/XP

Demi is curious about the technology field and is always passionate to explore new things. She is now working as a copywriter for this website. Demi will introduce many useful tips to improve your workflow.