In finite difference time domain simulation of room acoustics, source functions are subject to various constraints. These depend on the way sources are injected into the grid and on the chosen parameters of the numerical scheme being used. This paper addresses the issue of selecting and designing sources for finite difference simulation, by first reviewing associated aims and constraints, and evaluating existing source models against these criteria. The process of exciting a model is generalized by introducing a system of three cascaded filters, respectively, characterizing the driving pulse, the source mechanics, and the injection of the resulting source function into the grid. It is shown that hard, soft, and transparent sources can be seen as special cases within this unified approach. Starting from the mechanics of a small pulsating sphere, a parametric source model is formulated by specifying suitable filters. This physically constrained source model is numerically consistent, does not scatter incoming waves, and is free from zero- and low-frequency artifacts. Simulation results are employed for comparison with existing source formulations in terms of meeting the spectral and temporal requirements on the outward propagating wave.