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Research Help: APA referencing

Referencing basics

What is referencing? 
Referencing is a system which acknowledges the source of the information you have included in your assignment. Whether you are quoting someone else’s exact words or writing about the idea behind their words, you must give credit to the original author. 
The main purpose of a reference system is to provide enough information within your assignment so that your reader may then easily find the original source. 

Why reference? 
Referencing is essential for the following reasons: 

  • to avoid plagiarism 
  • to allow readers to verify your information 
  • to allow readers to follow up the arguments or ideas you mention 
  • to support your point of view 

 When to reference: 
 You must include a reference in your assignment when you: 

  • quote (use someone’s exact words) 
  • copy (diagrams, figures or tables) 
  • paraphrase (put someone’s ideas in your words) 
  • summarise (sum up someone’s ideas) 

 Examples of sources you need to reference include: 

  • books 
  • magazine or journal articles 
  • newspaper articles 
  • websites, social media sites and forums 
  • DVDs, or other audio visual materials 
  • interviews or emails 

In-text referencing

At the point where you write a quote, paraphrase or summary in your assignment you must include an in-text reference. This provides your reader with the surname of the original author of the idea, the date it was published, and, if applicable, the page reference to the original quote. (See the Concise rules of APA style, p. 174, for instructions on quotations longer than 40 words). If your quote or paraphrase comes from an internet source without page numbers, it is polite to include the paragraph number using the abbreviation ‘para.’ For example: (Harvey, 2014, para. 4). 

In-text referencing examples


The reference list

At the end of your writing you will need to include a reference list. This is a complete list of all the sources you referenced in your work. Your reference list should be in alphabetical order by authors’ surnames. 

You need to include the following information: author (surname, initials), year of publication, title of publication (in italics with minimal capitalisation), edition (if other than a first edition), place of publication, publishing company. Use the punctuation and formatting as in the example below.

Reference list example

You need to include the following information: author (surname, initials), year of publication, title of article (with minimal capitalisation), title of journal (in italics with a capital letter for every significant word), volume (in italics) and issue number (volume first, then issue in brackets directly after), page number/s of the whole article. Use the punctuation and formatting as in the example below. If the article was retrieved from an online site, add the words ‘Retrieved from’ and the URL after the page range.

Reference list example

You need to include the following information: author (usually an organization), year last updated, title of webpage (in italics with a capital letter for every significant word), retrieved from http://xxxxxxxxxx. Use the punctuation and formatting as in the example below. 

Reference list example


The referencing in this guide is based on the APA referencing system, as outlined in: American Psychological Association. (2010). Concise rules of APA style (6th ed.). Washington: American Psychological Association. 


Interactive referencing tool by La Trobe University

1.  Click the link above

2.  Select your referencing style (ask your teacher if you do not know)

3.  Select the resource type

4.  Select the format

5.  Use the example to create the reference for your particular resource


The video below shows you how to use the La Trobe Academic Referencing Tool.

APA Referencing part 1: What is referencing?

APA Referencing part 2: In-text referencing

APA Referencing part 3: Reference list entries