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APA Citation Style   Tags: citation, references  

This guide will show you how to cite your sources using the APA (American Psychological Association) citation style.
Last Updated: Oct 4, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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About APA Style

American Psychological Association (APA) style is used for citing references in pyschology and related fields, such as:

  • Anthropology
  • Criminology
  • Communication
  • Nursing
  • Social Work

APA style provides rules for formatting:

  • your essay as a whole: margins, indenting, etc.
  • references included in the body of your essay (in-text)
  • the reference list at the end of your essay (References)

It may seem like citing sources is tedious, but it is important and there are many reasons to do it. 

The purpose of citing your references is to:

  • identify (cite) other people’s ideas and the information you use within your assignment, essay or term paper
  • avoid plagiarism 
  • allow the reader to find your research sources
  • provide evidence for your arguments and add credibility to your work

This online guide is based on the APA Manual (6th ed.), 2009.


Avoiding Plagiarism

 Here are three different ways you can present information you have found in your research to consciously avoid plagiarizing.

1. Direct quote

When you use or copy the exact words or section of words from an author, you can surround that direct quote by quotation marks. Include the correct citation acknowledging the original author in your sentence.

2. Summary

Write a summary using your own words of the ideas or the text you want to use. Be original without using the words of the original work and be sure you cite that statement.

3. Paraphrase

Paraphrasing is similar to a summary. It just means taking what you have read and rewriting it in your own words. You must cite that paraphrase.


Why Cite Sources

This animated overview explores how research works and why sources matter — whether you're getting a tattoo or writing a paper.


The 6th Edition

APA published a new manual of style in July 2009, after four years of development.

There have been many changes, such as:

  • the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) in references to print and electronic sources (when available)
  • levels of Headings
  • specific and detailed referencing of online resources

To learn more, see the "What's New" section on the official APA Website.  You may find the APA blog a useful resource for details on corrections made to the APA manual (6th ed.). 



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Instructor and Subject Citation Requirements

Some instructors may have additional or specialized requirements for your citations.

Always be aware of class requirements- check with your instructor if you're not sure!


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