1. Fundamental Principles

In this chapter:  
APA Referencing Style Formatting your APA paper
Key terms In-text citation
When to cite Formatting the reference list
Reference components Where do I find the information?
Abbreviations Additional help

APA Referencing Style

Academic conventions and copyright law require that you acknowledge when you use the ideas of others. In most cases, this means stating where (i.e. which book, journal article, website, etc.) you sourced the idea or quotation.

As a university student, you are expected to read within your subject area/s, and to refer to such writings within your assessment tasks. Referring to the writings of researchers in your subject area shows your course examiner that:

  • You have studied the topic
  • You are aware of current knowledge within the topic, and
  • You can use the ideas of others to develop and support an argument or point of view.

It also allows your reader to locate the source should they wish to access it themselves.

To clearly differentiate your own thoughts from those of the experts whose work you are referring to, you need to provide a reference when you refer to the ideas or work of others. The reference, or citation, must follow the conventions of the referencing style stipulated by your course examiner.

Most UniSQ courses require you to use APA, Harvard AGPS, or AGLC. Your course materials should direct you to which one you need to use. If not, check with your course examiner.

This APA 7 guide draws from:

The aim of this guide is to provide basic referencing information. For more detailed information about how to write, structure and publish to APA standards, refer to the Publication manual and/or the APA Style blog.

University policy mandates the use of the APA Style defined by this referencing guide.

Key terms

  • Bibliography

A bibliography is similar to a reference list, however, it can include resources used during research that are not cited in the assignment. APA Style does not use a bibliography. Use a reference list.

  • Creative Commons (CC)

Creative Commons (CC) is an organisation that provides alternatives to standard copyright licenses. A CC license allows creative work to be shared within specified parameters. Always check what the specific CC license allows.

  • DOI

A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is a unique name assigned by the International DOI Foundation that provides a persistent link to a resource’s location on the Internet. When a DOI is available, no further retrieval information is needed to locate the content.

  • et al.

An abbreviation for ‘et alii’ which means and others.

  • Hanging indent

APA requires the Reference list to be formatted with a hanging indent. This means that the first line of each item in the list will be set to the left margin and subsequent lines will be indented (half an inch, or five to seven spaces).

  • In-text

Brief information about the source of your ideas. The in-text citation is provided where you used the idea, usually in the same sentence. APA Style in-text citations include the author and date of publication. Sometimes called ‘citation’ or ‘in-text reference.’

  • Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is the expression of ideas and information in your own words. It involves completely altering the sentence or paragraph structure. You must acknowledge the source/s when you paraphrase.

  • Periodical

A publication that is published at regular intervals, such as a journal, magazine, or newspaper.

  • Reference list

The reference list is where you provide the information necessary for your reader to identify and retrieve the sources you used for your assignment. To format your reference list, follow the guidelines under the heading ‘Formatting the reference list’ in this guide.

  • Secondary citation

A secondary citation is used when you cite a work that you found cited in another source, AND you cannot locate the original work. For guidelines on how to create a secondary citation see ‘Authors citing other authors’ under the heading ‘Variations in authors/creators’ in this guide.

  • URL

A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is a website address.

When to cite

You need to include a citation every time you:

  • Quote directly from someone else’s work
  • Paraphrase someone else’s ideas
  • Quote directly or paraphrase from your own previous work, including an assignment
  • Use an image
  • Use numerical data or datasets

Citing your sources not only demonstrates that you are using the ideas from others in your field of study – and hence reading in that area – but also allows the reader to identify and locate that source for themselves.

Reference components

APA citations include four components: who, when, what, and where. These components enable the reader to locate the source.

Reference list components


The following abbreviations may be used when referencing in APA (American Psychological Association, 2020, pp. 306-307).

Abbreviation Book or publication part
ed. edition
Rev. ed. Revised edition
2nd ed. second edition
Ed. (Eds.) Editor (Editors)
Trans. Translator(s)
n.d. no date
p. (pp.) page (pages)
Vol. Volume (e.g. Vol. 4)
Vols. Volumes (e.g. Vols. 1-4)
No. Number
Pt. Part
Tech. Rep. Technical Report
Suppl. Supplement
ca. Circa
Sr., Jr. Senior, Junior (include only in reference list, not in-text)
ellipses: use in place of omitted words
para. (paras.) paragraph (paragraphs)


Paraphrasing is when you summarise the ideas, concepts or words from the work of someone else, or from your own previous work. Changing only a few words from someone else’s work does not constitute paraphrasing. Paraphrasing involves completely altering the sentence structure and rewriting the information in your own words. Refer to the resource Developing Academic Skills: Paraphrasing and Synthesis for more information.

When to include page numbers

According to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.), when paraphrasing or referring to an idea in another work, you are not required to provide a page number for paraphrased material.  However, you may include page numbers when a work is particularly long and it might be useful for the reader.  If you choose to include page numbers, they should appear after the year of publication, as shown in the following examples:

  • Soil layers below the well tip contribute relatively little water (Kozeny, 1988, pp. 223-224).
  • Kozeny (1988) found soil layers below the well tip contributed little (pp. 223-224).

Direct quotes

Quotations or quotes are when you use the exact words of someone else, or from your own published or unpublished work. Quotations must be referenced with page numbers. For sources that do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number, if possible, preceded by the abbreviation ‘para.’ (e.g. Broome & Davies, 1999, para. 5).

  • Quotations of less than 40 words (approximately) should form part of the text and be designated with double quotation marks.
    • e.g. Students receiving “additional information literacy training achieved higher grades than students who did not attend any skills’ sessions” (Capel, 2002, p. 323).
  • With quotations of 40 or more words DO NOT use quotation marks; begin the quotation on a new line and indent it half an inch. Double-space the quotation.

Block quotation example:

A number of studies have explored the relationship between personality and culture.

Doi (1973) has postulated amae as a core concept of the Japanese personality.  The root of this word means “sweet,” and loosely translated, amae refers to the passive, childlike dependence of one person on another. It is said to be rooted in mother-child relationships. (Matsumoto & Juang, 2008, p. 278)

  • Quotes should be written exactly as they appear in the source (including spelling, punctuation etc).
  • Do not omit or alter citations embedded within the quote.
  • A citation within the direct quote is not included in your Reference list unless cited elsewhere in your work. In the example above, the 2008 publication (the source of the quote) is included in the list of references but the 1973 work mentioned within the quote is not, unless it is used as a source elsewhere in the work.

Formatting your APA paper

In general, UniSQ APA formatting requires work to be double-spaced including the headings, quotations, references and figure captions. Triple- or quadruple-spacing may be applied in special circumstances such as before and after displayed items. Single or one-and-a-half line spacing is never used except inside tables or figures, or as directed.

11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia or 10-point Computer Modern are all acceptable fonts in APA 7. Refer to your course outline for further advice.

In-text citation

Use the author-date style method of citation for quotations (exact words of another author/creator) and paraphrasing (summarising the words and ideas of someone else). Remember, every citation used in your text must have a corresponding entry in your reference list.For works with more than one author, list the author names in the order they appear in the source.

For works with more than one author, list the author names in the order they appear in the source.

If you have used more than one work to support an idea or argument in your assignment, you must include an in-text citation for each work. When citing separate works from different authors, list them alphabetically, with each separated by a semicolon. E.g. (Haddon, 1969; Larsen, 1971).

Note: Page numbers have not been included in in-text citations for paraphrased material in this APA referencing guide. Please consult your course examiner and/or your course outline to determine whether you are required to include (or omit) page numbers for paraphrased material.

When using in-text citations for multiple works published in the same year by multiple authors and where the first authors of each paper have the same name, to avoid any ambiguity you should include as many author names as needed to distinguish between these different works, and then use “et al.” instead of the remaining author names in every citation. For example,

  • Carlyle, Goswami, Lacey-Bryant, et al. (2022) assert…
  • Carlyle, Goswami, Divall, et al. (2022) argue…

Remember, “et al” means “and others”. This is a plural and should not be used in place of just one author’s name. For in-text citations where only the last author’s name is different, you should include all author names in every citation. For example,

  • Brettle, Maden, Webb, and Pratchett (2016) state….
  • Brettle, Maden, Webb, and Anderson (2016) suggest…

Formatting the reference list

  • The reference list should include only the sources you cite in your submission.
  • APA Style requires reference lists, not bibliographies.
  • The reference list begins on a new page.  The heading References is centred at the top of the page in bold type.
  • Double-space all reference entries (Note: To reduce printing costs, reference examples shown in this guide are single spaced.  The only exception to this is the Sample Reference list which is double spaced and formatted with hanging indents, as per APA requirements).
  • The first line of every reference list entry should be flush left, and the second and subsequent lines should be indented half an inch (five to seven spaces).
  • Hyperlinks should be live if the work will be read or published online. Note: Hyperlinks are live in the referencing examples shown in the web and PDF versions of the guide.
  • Arrange entries in alphabetical order by the surname of the first author as the letters appear (e.g. M, Mac, MacD, Mc).
  • For works with more than one author, list the author names in the order they appear in the source.
  • If more than one work by an author is cited, list these by earliest publication date first.
  • If the list contains more than one item published by the same author(s) in the same year, add lower case letters immediately after the year to distinguish them (e.g. 1983a, 1983b).
  • If there is no author, the title moves to the author position (filed under the first significant word of the title). If the title in this instance begins with numerals, spell them out.

Where do I find the information?

If you choose to download a citation for the source you are using (e.g. from databases or software such as Endnote) be careful to check the accuracy of the citation before including it in your assignment because errors in downloaded citations are common.


  • The title page of a book should provide:
    • The title
    • Subtitle
    • Name of the author/s (or creator, editor, etc.)
    • Publisher’s imprint (publisher’s name).
  • The reverse of the title page (also known as verso-title, imprint or reverse-title page) provides a lot more information, including:
    • Publisher’s name
    • Name of the editor, designer, photographer, etc., as appropriate
    • Copyright notice (including the year of copyright)
    • A list of editions and reprints
    • Details of other volumes in a multi-volume work.


  • The front page of a journal article should provide the information required for your citation but you may also need to look in the database entry or journal table of contents. Look for:
    • Title of the article
    • Title of the journal
    • Author/s
    • When the article was published, including the year, volume and issue numbers
    • A DOI (most recently published online articles will have a doi)
  • Make a note of the URL if the article does not have a DOI.
  • You also need the page range: the first and last page numbers.

Internet sources

  • The goals of a citation for an online source are to credit the author/creator and to enable the reader to find the material.
    • You are looking for the ‘who’ (author), ‘when’ (date) and ‘what’ (title) elements. There is no standard place on a website to locate this information.
    • For the ‘where’ element, direct readers as closely as possible to the information; whenever possible, use the URL for the exact page.
    • A URL replaces the name of the publisher typically provided for text references. For websites where information may be updated regularly, also include a retrieval statement, with date.
    • If the source undergoes regular revision, the date for the most recent update should be used.
    • It is often appropriate to include additional information after the title of the work (similar to including an edition number for a book). Sometimes this is included as part of the title (e.g. a report number). This may include the format of the source.
    • For sources that do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number, if possible, preceded by the abbreviation ‘para.’ (e.g. Broome & Davies, 1999, para. 5).
  • To provide specific information from a website or web document within the text of an assignment, you must provide both an in-text citation and an entry in the reference list. Use the exact URL for the web page that has the information you are citing.
  • The only time you provide the URL of the entire website is:
    • When you mention it in passing – e.g. Comprehensive information about the University of Southern Queensland can be found at the University’s website (https://www.unisq.edu.au/). In this instance, you include an in-text citation only.
    • When the specific information you are citing is on the home page. In this instance, follow the guidelines for how to cite and reference a web page or web document.
  • When citing specific information, create a reference following the guidelines for how to cite and reference a web page or web document.

What if I can’t find an example of the source type I want to reference?

This referencing guide includes examples for a wide range of source types however it does not provide an example for every different source type that you may need to reference. If you are unable to find an example for the source type, you need to:

  • Think about your source type. Are there a few different types it might possibly be but you’re not sure which of those it actually is? If so, have a look at the guidelines for each of the different types it might be. The guidelines for creating the citation might be the same.
    • E.g. The guidelines for how to reference a web page and how to reference a web document are the same.
  • Consider combining different elements from more than one example within the guide.
    • E.g. To cite a newspaper article where you do not know who the author is, you will have to follow guidelines for both of the following:
      • No author, in the Author Variations section
      • Newspaper article.

Additional help

Contact the Library or consult the following:

Call number 808.06615 PUB

While the Library is not responsible for checking lists of references we can refer you to our referencing guides and the published manuals listed to help you ensure the accuracy of your referencing.


UniSQ APA 7 Referencing Guide Copyright © by University of Southern Queensland. All Rights Reserved.

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