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Referencing and Plagiarism Guide: Introduction

Referencing using APA

APA Examples

What is Referencing?

Referencing is a method of acknowledging sources of information used in assignments.  It is an important part of academic writing.

You must acknowledge any source used in your assignment with an in-text reference and by including it in your reference list at the end of your assignment.

South Metropolitan TAFE uses APA7 (American Psychological Association - 7th edition), an 'author-date' citation style.  It uses in-text citations with a reference list containing complete reference information at the end of your assignment.

Why Reference?

You reference to:

  • To acknowledge the source of information and therefore avoid plagiarism.
  • To show the breadth of your research.
  • To allow the reader to find and verify the information used.

When Do You Have to Reference?

You should ALWAYS reference if you:

Quote - use someone else's exact words
Paraphrase - convert someone else's ideas to your own words
Summarise - create a brief account of someone else's ideas
Copy - statistics, figures, tables or images

When Do You NOT Need to Reference?

When you are describing your own experiences or observations.

When you are using general or common knowledge.

Cite or Reference?

The terms cite/citation are often used interchangeably with reference.

Most online resources (ebooks, databases, library catalogues, video platforms) have an embedded cite/citation tool which will generate a reference (citation) for you. 

Remember it is your responsibility to ensure that the reference generated is correct. Check it against the examples in this guide.


With thanks to North Metropolitan TAFE Libraries for allowing their guide content to be copied/adapted for use in this guide.

How to Reference

1. Record

When collecting information for an assignment topic, record all the information required to reference your sources. Make sure you include page numbers for direct quotations, journal articles and book chapters. 

2. Organise

When recording the referencing information develop a system that works for you. For example, add the information immediately to your draft, or use a referencing program such as the Microsoft Word referencing tool. 

3. In-text

Within the text of your assignment, include a brief reference when you summarise, paraphrase or quote from another source. 

4. Reference List

At the end of your assignment attach a list of the references you have cited in-text. It must include full references for the different sources used. Arrange the list alphabetically by the first author's surname or by title if there is no author. 

Each time you use information from another source you must include an in-text reference.

General Rules

  • Include the author's name and year of publication.
  • Include page or paragraph numbers for direct quotations, and for referencing specific items such as tables or graphs.
  • Insert the in-text reference where the information is used.
  • Multiple references to different resources containing the same author and year should have a lowercase a,b,c, etc, after the year to distinguish between the entries.  


In-text: (Diabetes WA, 2019a)

Diabetes WA. (2019a). What's your risk? / 

In-text: (Diabetes WA, 2019b)

Diabetes WA (2019b). What is blood glucose?

Corporate authors names can be abbreviated.

If a reference has a corporate author, the name can sometimes be abbreviated—for example, American Psychological Association can be abbreviated to APA. You do not have to abbreviate the name of a corporate author, but you can if the abbreviation would help avoid repetition and will appear more than three times in the assignment.


First in-text reference: (American Psychological Association [APA], 2022)

Second and subsequent in-text references: (APA, 2022)

"Teach your children how to handle money responsibly, perhaps by setting up their own "savings account" for their pocket money and letting them pay for small items they want when shopping" (American Psychological Association [APA], 2022).

Note: This only applies to the in-text reference, do not use the abbreviation in the Reference List.

American Psychological Association. (2022). Talking to your children about the economy and financial fears.

General Rules:

  • List in alphabetical order by the surname of the first author.
  • Where there is no author, use the title.
  • Where there is no date use (n.d.)
  • All main titles are italicised.
  • The second and subsequent lines of each reference should be indented 5 spaces.
  • Multiple references containing the same author and year should have a lowercase a,b,c, etc. after the year to distinguish between the entries. This is also used in the in-text references. 


Diabetes WA. (2019a). What's your risk?  

In-text: (Diabetes WA, 2019a)  

Diabetes WA (2019b). What is blood glucose?

In-text: (Diabetes WA, 2019b)

Points to Note:

  • Author can also be an editor or a corporate author.
  • Place of publication is no longer required
  • "Retrieved from" is no longer required for online resources, except for dictionary entries.
  • There are a few exceptions where some sources only require an in-text reference and are not included in the Reference List. See examples in the Other Sources Tab.

Page numbers are required when using a direct quote but optional when paraphrasing

Formatting quotations
A quotation is an exact reproduction from another source. They are word for word copies of another person's work.

Quotations of less than 40 words are set out in the body of the text and enclosed with double quotation marks " ".
... children are very adaptable. However, "it is no surprise that we are much better at recognising negative signals than positives ones"  (Smith, 2011, p. 36).

Quotations of more than 40 words should be set out in a block, commencing on a new line and indented from the left hand margin 5 spaces. Quotation marks are not used. Double space the entire quotation.
Governments have occasionally produced reports on:

     The merits of privatization, incorporating 'expert' assessments of

     likely sale and retention values. This is progress, of a kind. It does,

     after all, provide the community with opportunities to scrutinise major

     proposals for asset sales - opportunities long available in the

     private sector. (Walker, 2010, p. 140)

Point to note:
Avoid overuse of quotations. It is better to paraphrase or summarise information from other sources, as this shows your understanding of the information. 

Direct quotations can be used for:

  • a definition
  • a theory, law, regulation or technical phrase etc
  • an effective, powerful, or controversial statement

There are various ways to reference quotes. Read the APA Style Blog for suggestions.

The use of capital letters in titles varies:

Books, websites and web documents 

  • use italics for the title of the book, website or web document, and
  • capitalise the first word of the title, the first word of subtitles and any proper nouns

                                     Churchill's desert war: The road to El Alamein

Periodicals (journals, newspapers and magazines)

  • use italics for the title of the periodical, and
  • capitalise ALL main title words

                                      Australian Journal of Early Childhood

                                      Australian Financial Review

Articles and chapters

  • write in plain text (not italics) and
  • capitalise the first word of the title, the first word of subtitles and any proper nouns

                                      Working with refugee young people: An Australian nurse's perspective


[Format] -  Only use if the format is important for identification and retrieval. This is included in square brackets, for example:

Lang, k.d. (2008). Shadow and the frame. On Watershed [CD]. Nonesuch Records.

Below are some of the more common format types. 


[Audio podcast]

[Blog post] or [Blog comment]




[Computer software]

[Demographic map]





[Lecture notes]

[mp3/4 etc.]



[PowerPoint presentation]

[Press release]

[Special issue]

[Supplemental material]


[Television series]



These abbreviations are commonly used in referencing:  


 ed.  edition
 2nd ed.  second edition
 Ed.  Editor
 Eds.  Editors
 et al.  and others
 n.d.  no date
 p.  page
 pp.  pages
 para.  paragraph
 Vol  volume
 Cth.  Commonwealth



More Help

Reference it course


You may also want to use a free citation generator which will put the reference into APA for you.  References from citation generators vary so please check for accuracy against our different reference types:

Official APA Resources

Still want more guidance for referencing?  APA experts publish weekly posts to talk about APA referencing.

APA Website

APA Blog

These APA books can be borrowed from the library:

Concise guide to APA style

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association:  The official guide to APA style