Word Choice: Cite vs. Site
  • 2-minute read
  • 15th January 2015

Word Choice: Cite vs. Site

It can be difficult to pick the right words all the time, especially since terms like “cite” and “site” sound very similar. However, using correct terminology can gain you valuable marks on your papers, so it is worth learning about easily confused words.

Cite (Quote or Reference)

The term “cite” is very important in academic circles, as it means “reference”:

Citing sources clearly is a fundamental part of academic writing.

When you quote another author’s work, or even paraphrase their ideas, you will need to “cite” the work you are referring to.

Less formally, “cite” can simply mean “to mention in support of” something. For instance:

Hamish argued that the Scottish are clearly smarter than the English, citing several examples of prominent Scottish inventors.

Site (A Place or Position)

The term “site” is mostly used to refer to locations, meaning “place” or “position.” As such, you may talk about the “site” of a house or hospital. You can also use it as a verb, such as if you are discussing “where to site a building.”

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Of course, these days “site” can also be short for “website.” This is similar to the original meaning of “site” given above, but refers to the location of a page on the internet, rather than a physical location.

Cite or Site?

Since “cite” and “site” have such different meanings, the main trick is remembering how each one is spelled:

Cite (with a “c”) = Quote or reference something

Site (with an “s”) = The location or position of something


It can be difficult to spot mistakes like those above, especially when you have been working on a piece of writing for a long time. So why not send it to the professionals at Proofed? We will check your paper for errors and send back a copy showing the changes made, along with helpful comments to help you improve your work.

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