APA Referencing


There are several different referencing styles used in academic writing. APU uses the 7th edition APA (American Psychological Association) referencing style. It is a variant of the Harvard system which uses the author-date method of referencing, where you have an in-text citation and a related entry in a reference list at the end of your work.

What is referencing?

Referencing is a method of acknowledging or citing the sources of information that you have used to undertake an assignment. Citing the sources of information accurately is extremely important to show that you have done an in-depth research and that you have consulted appropriate texts for your work. It is important that you must acknowledge all information sources you have used while writing your paper. Failure to acknowledge your sources will result in plagiarism. 

What is regarded as plagiarism?
Your work can be questioned for plagiarism if: 

  • you submit someone else’s work as your own.
  • you have copied words, ideas and original creations from someone else without acknowledgment. 
  • you provide inaccurate information about the source of information used. 
  • you reword but copied the sentence structure of a source without giving credit. 
Why should I reference?
  • To establish that your work is authentic and can be supported by facts. 
  • To acknowledge the used ideas and written material belonging to other authors/creators in your work. 
  • To allow readers to understand, evaluate and assess the original source independently without being biased by your interpretation. 
  • To help your research readers to locate and retrieve the sources used in your work easily. 
  • To avoid situations where your work can be questioned for plagiarism as a result of failing to acknowledge the sources. 
When do I need to reference?
  • When you are directly quoting or using the exact words, “unique phrase” or creations of others’ from any source (i.e. books, newspaper, video, song lyrics, a computer program, an email, letter, brochure book, newspaper, journal article, magazine, etc.). 
  • When you use any diagrams, pictures, charts, or illustrations, statistical information, theories.
  • When you are making a video clip using a copyrighted music as part of your video.
  • When you are paraphrasing the words or ideas of someone else by just replacing words but copying the entire sentence structure.
  • When the information used in your work is taken from the details shared by someone during an interview with you. 
  • When you are interpreting ideas that others may have shared during a conversation with you verbally or in writing.
Where do I need to apply APA referencing?
In any referencing style, there are two complementary aspects to it; namely In-text citation and reference list. This also applies to APA referencing style.  

  • In-text citation: Any information sourced from another author/creator and used within the body of your work (whether it is directly quoted or paraphrased) must be referenced within the text (or in a table, figure, footnote, or appendix.  In APA, the in-text citations will include the author’s name and the date of publication (month and year). These citations will point to the reference list at the end, which will include a list of all the sources you used in your body of work.
  • Reference list: This is a compiled list of all the works cited in the body of your text. You must remember this differs from bibliography. Bibliography refers to all the materials that you have accessed / read which would have helped you in evaluating, assessing, interpreting the information you needed for your work but may or may not actually cited. 
How to cite (in-text citation) using APA?

In-text citations are available in two formats, namely: parenthetical and narrative. You can choose one of them to apply in your work.

  • Parenthetical Citations – In this format, author and date will be separated by a comma and appear in the parentheses. There are a few variants in this format as shown in the examples below. Parenthetical citation allows the freedom to cite within the text or at the end of a sentence.
    If there are other text within the parenthetical citation, use commas around the year to separate each section. When text and a citation appear together in parentheses, use a semicolon to separate the citation from the text; do not use parentheses within parentheses.
    Narrative Citation – In this format, the author’s surname becomes part of the sentence, and the year follows in parentheses immediately after the author’s name. You have the freedom to include the author’s name in any part of the sentence you think apt.
    Occasionally, you may find both the author and date to appear in the narrative. Do not use parentheses in such situations.
How to create reference list using APA?
  • Your reference list is created on a new page and should be at the last page of your academic work.  
  • The list must have all the information about a source which you have cited throughout your work.   
  • While the formats of sources (book, journal, video, website, etc.) used in your work may vary, they all share the following four key components of your list. 
    • WHO: Author’s name
    • WHEN: Date of publication  
    • WHAT: Title of work  
    • WHERE: Source data 
  • Follow the steps below to create your reference list: 
    • Begin the reference list on a new and in the last page of your work. 
    • Place the section label “References” in bold at the top of the page, centered. 
    • Order references alphabetically (A-Z) by usually by the surname of the first author of the work. If no author available, sort under the first significant word of the title. 
    • Double-space the reference list, both within and between references. Do not add extra lines between references.  
    • Include the authors’ first and middle initials (if there are any). Do not begin by writing the first or middle names.
    • Write author names in inverted format so that the surname comes first, followed by a comma and the initials. Place a period and a space after each initial.  
    • Write titles using sentence case – capitalise the first word of the title, the first word after a colon or dash, and proper names.
    • Apply a hanging indent for all references using the paragraph-formatting function of your word processing program: The first line is flush left, and all subsequent lines are indented 0.5 inch (1.27 in cm).
  • Take a look at a sample reference list to gain a basic understanding on how a good reference list should look like (Source: Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab).
Is there any APA guide that I can refer to for further information?

Library has the following print and electronic materials that you can refer to which will help you to maintain the consistency of the referencing style throughout your academic work.