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What it is and how to avoid it

What's Common Knowledge?

Common knowledge includes information like this:

  • painter of the Mona Lisa
  • capitals of states and countries
  • George Washington was the first president
  • Columbus reached America in 1492

Don't be fooled:

  • Everything on the Internet is considered common knowledge - WRONG! Unless it meets the criteria of common knowledge, you must cite your sources, whether found on the Internet or in print.
  • Information found in an encyclopedia is considered common knowledge - WRONG! Encyclopedias contain lots of information, some of which is common knowledge and some of which is not.
  • Facts found in newspaper articles are considered common knowledge - WRONG! Newspaper articles do contain facts that may be considered common knowledge, but not everything included in a newspaper article is common knowledge.

When in doubt, check with your instructor or cite the information.