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Documenting Sources Using the APA 7th Edition Format

Updated: May 1


In academic writing, documenting sources is crucial in supporting arguments, providing evidence, and adding credibility to a piece of writing. It is also essential for writers to evaluate their sources critically, considering factors such as credibility, relevance, and bias, to ensure their work is based on reliable and trustworthy information.


The documented sources can include scholarly articles, books, reports, websites, interviews, and other published or unpublished materials. Different citation styles, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, contain specific guidelines for formatting and citing sources. The article is mainly about documenting sources using APA 7th format.


Why referencing?

Using references in academic writing is crucial for a number of reasons. References allow readers to trace the sources used by the author to develop their ideas and arguments, increasing the work's credibility. Besides, proper referencing also helps to avoid accusations of plagiarism, which is a serious offence in academic writing. Below are the major reasons for referencing:


a. To acknowledge the sources we use

When we write academic papers, we illustrate ideas or opinions, and sometimes, we ask ourselves questions like “Where do those ideas come from?” or “Is there anyone who has had the same ideas before?” Hence, the first reason for referencing is sources.


Using appropriate references and citations acknowledges where the material comes from; the evidence to support our own work and ideas or to support theories we are discussing directions for the reader on how to find the sources we have used.


We should learn that any information we take from other sources must be acknowledged within the body of our paper (in-text citations) and at the end of the paper (in the reference list). All material cited within the text must appear in the reference list, and vice versa.


b. To avoid plagiarism

Integrity comes first when we conduct academic research because it ensures that the research is trustworthy, reliable, and ethical. Maintaining integrity involves adhering to established ethical standards and principles, which promote the responsible use of research data and the proper attribution of sources and avoid plagiarism.


Plagiarism, a form of academic theft which involves presenting others’ ideas as our own, must be paid attention to while constructing academic writing. We should keep in mind that knowledge and words have ownership except for common knowledge like “the Earth is round” and “England is in Europe”, and common phrases such as “How are you today?”


Overall, referencing demonstrates that the author has conducted research and has engaged with the existing literature on the topic, indicating a high level of knowledge and expertise. Using references is essential for creating well-informed, credible, and original academic work.


APA 7th Edition

The American Psychological Association (APA) 7th edition is a set of guidelines for writing and formatting academic papers, including research papers, journal articles, and essays in the social and behavioural sciences. It is widely used in paper presentations at international conferences and adopted by numerous internationally renowned journals as a publishing format.


The 7th edition includes several changes from the previous edition, such as new guidelines for citing electronic sources, inclusive and bias-free language, and a simplified format for citing sources with three or more authors. This article provides a brief summary of the APA style referencing as outlined in the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2020). Correcting referencing in APA style has two main parts: reference list and in-text citation.


a. Reference List

One of the key components of the APA style is the reference list, which appears at the end of the writing, which is a detailed list of all the sources that were cited or referred to in a paper. The reference list provides the reader with important information about the sources used in the research, allowing them to verify the information and locate the original sources if needed.


The APA reference list follows specific guidelines and includes important details such as the author/organisation's name, publication year/date, work title, publication location, and publisher name. A well-crafted reference list is essential to academic writing and demonstrates the writer's careful attention to detail and commitment to academic integrity.


The reference list should start on a new page after the text of the paper and be titled “References” in bold, centred/left-adjusted at the top of the page. APA style dictates that the references page should be double‐spaced and that entries should be formatted with a hanging indent—that is, the first line of each entry should be at the left margin, and subsequent lines in the same entry should be indented. Additionally, we should alphabetise the reference entries. Below is an example of the reference page:


References

Denmark, F. L. (1999). Enhancing the development of adolescent girls. In N. G. Johnson & M. C. Roberts

(Eds.), Beyond appearance: A new look at adolescent girls (pp. 377‐404). Washington, DC: American

Psychological Association Press.


There are also some crucial criteria for the reference list:

  1. You should alphabetise the reference entries by the last name of the author.

    1. Use the first author listed in the book or article, if more than one.

  2. If the author is a government agency or corporation, alphabetise by that name.

  3. If there is no author, alphabetise using the work's title.

  4. If two authors have the same last name, alphabetise them by the first initial. Example:

    1. Smith, A. would appear before Smith, G.

  5. If multiple works by the same author(s) are used, place them in order of publication date.

    1. Example:

      1. An article by Smith, A., written in 2015, will appear before another by Smith, A., in 2019.

  6. If there are several works with the same author(s) and year, apply a lowercase letter after the year: “2019a” and “2019b” and place order by date first: just a year, then those with a month or day.

    1. Example:

      1. Smith, A., & Jones, R. (2019a)

      2. Smith, A., & Jones, R. (2019b, April 7)

      3. Smith, A., & Jones, R. (2019c, October 15)


b. In-Text Citation

In-text citations are an essential component of the APA style for acknowledging sources of information in research papers, essays, or other written works. They provide brief information about the author and publication year of the source within the document's text, allowing readers to easily identify and locate the source.


In-text citation guidelines can vary depending on the number of authors, type of sources, and other factors. In-text citations appear in two ways: parenthetical citations and narrative citations. They mainly contain two parts: direct quotations (the original writers’ opinions or ideas) and indirect quotations (you summarise or paraphrase the original texts).


  1. Direction Quotation (Less than 40 Words)

    1. Directly quoted material appears with quotation marks followed by a parenthesis with the author(s), year, and page number in parenthetical citations.

      1. Example:

        1. Effective teams can be difficult to describe because "high performance along one domain does not translate to high performance along another" (Dervin et al., 2018, p. 470).

    2. The author’s name would appear as part of the text, with the date appearing right after in brackets in narrative citations.

      1. Example:

        1. Dervin et al. (2018, p. 470) noted that effective teams can be difficult to describe because "high performance along one domain does not translate to high performance along another".

  2. Direction Quotation (Over 40 Words)

    1. If the quotation is long (40 words or more), it should be formatted as a block quotation, and the parentheses should appear after the final punctuation mark in parenthetical citations.

    2. A block quotation is offset from the essay's main body by indenting 0.5 inches (5-7 spaces) from the left margin.

      1. Example: Researchers have studied how people talk to themselves. Inner speech is a paradoxical phenomenon. It is an experience central to many people's everyday lives, yet it presents considerable challenges to studying it scientifically. Nevertheless, various methodologies and approaches have combined to shed light on the subjective experience of inner speech and its cognitive and neural underpinnings. (Alderson-Day & Fernyhough. 2015, p. 957)

    3. The author’s name would appear as part of the text, with the date appearing right after in brackets in narrative citations.

      1. Example:

        1. In a discussion on the criteria involved in plagiarism, Pecorari (2013) found that: Plagiarism requires intention. It requires the intention of two sorts. First, the plagiarist just be aware of having copied. A legitimate error in copying and pasting (always assuming that it can be demonstrated that a legitimate error was involved) is not plagiarism. (p. 14).

  3. Indirect Quotation

    1. There are some general guidelines for indirect quotations as follows:

      1. The author's surname/last name and publication date should be cited.

      2. Use “n.d.” (no date) instead of the date if there is no date.

      3. If the material has been accepted for publication but has not yet been published, use “in press”.

      4. For in-text citations with 3 or more than 3 authors, only include the surname of the first author plus “et al.

      5. The author and the date appear in parenthesis, separated by a comma, and it can be within or at the end of the sentence in parenthetical format.

        1. Example:

          1. Beginning on July 2nd, the Toronto Transit Commission will require riders to wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (Spurr, 2020).

        2. In narrative format, the author’s name would appear as part of the text, with the date appearing right after in brackets.

        3. Examples:

          1. As noted by Spurr (2020), the Toronto Transit Commission will require riders to wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 beginning on July 2nd. Pauling et al. (2005) discovered a possible genetic cause of alcoholism. Parenthetical or narrative citations or a combination can be used in the paper, depending on your preference. The examples presented illustrate the more common resource types of APA 7th, including referencing offline and online material.


APA 7th Referencing Solution


a. Offline/Printed Material (Most Common)

1. Periodicals (Journals/Newspapers/Magazines Articles)

  1. Format: Author, A., & Author, B. (publication year). Article title. Periodical Title, volume number (issue number), page numbers. DOI or URL if available

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Murzynski, J., & Degelman, D. (1996). Body language of women and judgments of vulnerability to sexual assault. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26(3), 1617-1626.

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Murzynski & Degelman, 1996)

  3. In case the journal article is an advanced online publication or in-press

    1. Format 1

      1. Reference

        1. Author, A., & Author, B. (publication date). Article title. Periodical Title. Advanced online publication. DOI or URL if using

      2. In-text citation

        1. (A & B, date)

    2. Format 2

      1. Reference

        1. Author, A., & Author, B. (in press). Article title. Periodical Title.

      2. In-text citation

        1. (A & B, in press)


2. Dissertation or Thesis

  1. Format: Author, A., & Author, B. (publication year). Dissertation or thesis title (Doctoral dissertation or Master's thesis). Location: Institution Name.

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Bevin, G. D. (1987). Theory and practice at an Australian university. Doctoral dissertation. Montreal: McGill University.

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Bevin, 1987)


3. Book

  1. One Author

    1. Format: Author, A. (publication year). Book tile. Publication location, State: Publisher.

      1. Example:

        1. Reference

          1. Gould, S. J. (1981). The mismeasure of man. New York, NY: Norton.

        2. In-text citation

          1. (Gould, 1981)

  2. 2 to 3 or More Authors

    1. Format 1: Author, A., & Author, B. (publication year). Book title. Publication location: Publisher.

    2. Format 2: Author, A., Author, B., & Author, C. (publication year). Book title. Publication location: Publisher.

    3. Example:

      1. Reference

        1. Forsyth, A., & Thornhill, R. (1983). The evolution of insect mating. Cambridge: Havard University Press.

      2. In-text citation

        1. (Forsyth & Thornhill, 1983)

  3. Tips:

    1. When referencing a book with 6 authors or more, cite only the surname of the first author followed by et al. (italicized and with a full stop after “al”) and the year for the first and subsequent citations.

    2. In the reference list, provide the surnames of the first six authors and apply et al. for the rest.


4. Edited Books

  1. Format: Author, A., Author, B., & Author, C. (Eds.). (publication year). Book title. Publication location: Publisher.

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Benyon, J., & Mackay, H. (Eds.). (1993). Computer into classroom. London: The Falmer Press.

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Benyon & Mackay, 1993)


5. Chapter of an Edited Book

  1. Format: Author of Chapter, A. (publication year). Chapter title. In A. Editor & B. Editor (Eds.), Book title (page numbers). Publication location: Publisher.

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Denmark, F. L. (1999). Enhancing the development of adolescent girls. In N. G. Johnson & M.C. Roberts (Eds.), Beyond appearance: A new look at adolescent girls (pp. 377-404). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Denmark, 1999)


6. Translated Book

  1. Format: Author, A (publication year). Book title (Translator). Publication location: Publisher. (Original publication date)

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Freud, S. (1950). Beyond the pleasure principle (J. Strachey, Trans.). New York: Liveright. (Original work published 1920)

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Freud, 1950)


7. Proceedings of Meetings and Symposia

  1. Format: Author, A. (publication date). Article, abstract, or paper title. Meeting, Conference, or Symposium Title, volume number, page numbers.

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Franklin, M. L. (1991). A motivational approach to exercise. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 73, 21-38.

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Franklin, 1991)


8. Encyclopedias

  1. Format: Author, A (publication year). Entry title. In A. Editor & B. Editor (Eds.), Encyclopedia title (volume number, page numbers). Publisher.

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Smith, J. D. (2020). Psychology. In P. Johnson (Eds.), Encyclopedia Britannica (Vol. 25, pp. 105-112). Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Smith, 2020)


b. Online/Digital Material (Most Common)


1. Online Article

  1. Format: Author, A (publication year). Web page title. Publisher/Site sponsor name. URL

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Bass, R. (1997). Technology & learning: A brief guide to interactive multimedia and the study of the United States. Georgetown University, American Crossroad Project Website. http://www.georgetown.edu/crossroads/mltmedia.html

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Bass, 1997)


2. E-book

  1. Format: Author, A, & Author, B. (publication year). Title in sentence case: Subtitle (edition, if not the first). Publisher. URL/DOI (if electronic)

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Schildt, H. (2005). Java: A beginner's guide. https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/java-a-beginners/9781259589324

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Schildt, 2005)


3. Articles from Online Newspapers

  1. Format: Author, A, & Author, B. (publication date). Article title. Newspaper Title. URL

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Howard, J. (2020, July 13). Covid-19 immunity from antibodies may last only months, UK study suggest. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/13/health/covid-immunity-antibody-response-uk-study-wellness/index.html

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Howard, 2020)


4. Articles from Online Magazines

  1. Format: Author, A, & Author, B. (publication date). Article title. Magazine Title. URL

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Cooper, M., & Tumulty, K. (2004,). Bring on the cash! Time. http://www.time.com/time/election2004/article/0,18471,591298,00.html

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Cooper & Tumulty, 2004)


5. Online Government Articles

  1. Format: Agency/department. (publication date). Article title. URL

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). Youth gangs: Going beyond the myths to address a critical problem. http://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/training/gangs/problem_pg3.html

    2. In-text citation

      1. (U.S. Department of Education, n.d.)


6. Audiovisual Works

  1. Format: Author/Creator Name (publication year). Title [Resource type]. Source. URL if applicable

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Hawking, S. (1994). A brief history of time: An interactive adventure [CD]. Crunch Pod Media.

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Hawking, 1994)


7. Film

  1. Format: Director/Producer Name (Position Title). (publication year). Work title [Format]. Production Company.

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Forman, M. (Director). (1975). One flew over the cuckoo's nest [Film]. United Artists.

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Forman, 1975)


8. Entire TV series

  1. Format: Director/Producer Name (Position Title). (publication date). TV series title [TV series]. Production Company.

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Gilligan, V. (2008). Breaking bad [Television series]. Sony Pictures Television.

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Gilligan, 2008)


9. TV episode

  1. Format: Director/Producer Name (Position Title). (episode date). Title of the episode (Season #, Episode #) [TV series episode]. In A. Producer (Position Title), Title of TV series. Production Company.

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Kauffman, M., & Crane, D., & Burrows, J. (1996). The one where no one's ready [Television series episode]. In K. Bright, M. Kauffman, & D. Crane (Producers), Friends. Warner Bros.

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Kauffman, Burrows, & Crane, 1996)


10. YouTube videos or other streaming videos

  1. Format: Author, A. (publication date). Video title [Video]. Platform. URL

  2. Example:

    1. Reference

      1. Smith, J. (2022, January 15). How to make the perfect cup of coffee [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1234567890

    2. In-text citation

      1. (Smith, 2022)


Please refer to the APA (7th Edition) Referencing Guide for more information on other reference types.


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This guest post is authored by Wang Jing, a lecturer from the Shanghai University of Finances and Economics Zhejiang College, China and co-authored by Boon Yih Mah.

 

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