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APA Referencing Guide: Introduction

APA 7th edition

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 or similar. 

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. These must be the full references required 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.
  • The In-text reference should be inserted where the information is used.
  • References to different resources with the same author and year should have a lowercase a,b,c, etc after the year to distinguish the entry.   


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


First in-text reference: (American Psychological Association [APA], 2019)

Second and subsequent in-text references: (APA, 2019)

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

American Psychological Association. (2011). Dollars and sense: Talking to your children about the economy.

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 the entry. 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 and 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 persons work.

Quotations of less than 40 words are set out wiithin 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 direct quotations. It is best to paraphrase or summarise information from other sources, as this shows your understanding of the information and your ability to use it in your own work.

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 

  • write the title of the book, website or web document in italics, 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)

  • write the title of the periodical in italics, 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 nurses'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 Record.

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



Official APA Resources

Have trouble with referencing a format? Search the blog for assistance. APA experts publish weekly posts to talk about APA Style and how it works in a variety of topics.


We thank North Metropolitan Tafe for allowing their guide content to be adapted for use in this guide and the use of their training videos.

When Do You Have to Reference?

ALWAYS 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.

What is Referencing?

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

You must acknowledge any source you use both within the text of your assignment (also known as an in-text reference) and by listing it at the end of your assignment (also known as an end-text reference or reference list).

Why Reference?

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.

Cite or Reference?

You will notice in referencing information that the terms cite/citation are often used interchangeably with reference.

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

Too easy! Just remember that it is your responsibility to ensure that the reference generated is correct. Check it against the examples in this guide.