Common Knowledge

A statement considered to be "common knowledge" does not need to be attributed to a source. Facts that can be found in numerous places and are likely to be found by many people are likewise considered common knowledge. For example, it is common knowledge that Nathaniel Hawthorne and Franklin Pierce were famous graduates of Bowdoin College. However, it is not common knowledge that President Pierce appointed Hawthorne as the U.S. Consul in Liverpool in appreciation of the author's campaign biography of candidate Pierce in 1852. This latter fact is proposed by Charles Calhoun, A Small College in Maine: Two Hundred Years of Bowdoin (Brunswick: Bowdoin College, 1993), pp. 164-165.

As a general rule well-known or basic facts do not need to be documented; however, interpretations of such facts do.

If something is not common knowledge, or if you are not certain whether it is or not, cite the source. During the course of your studies, you will need to be able to distinguish between different kinds of common knowledge: common knowledge for the general public versus common knowledge for a specialized audience.