Not every fact in your paper needs to be documented. Facts that are widely known—common knowledge—can stand by themselves.
Examples of statements expressing common knowledge:
- George Washington was the first president.
- Plato spent most of his life in Athens.
- Maine has a lower yearly average temperature than Florida.
Any statement that originates from another source and contains information that is not common knowledge must be cited.
Examples of statements that don't express common knowledge:
- Civilizations that were aware of geese usually considered them intermediaries between heaven and earth (Toussaint-Samat 352).
- The Chinese fishing industry produces 800,000 tons of fish annually (Toussaint-Samat 328).
- The first international coffee syndicate was based in Germany (Toussaint-Samat 590).
These statements aren't surrounded by quotation marks because they aren't the original authors' words but must be cited because they express information that involves facts that are not commonly known.