What’s up with referencing? Why do we have to do it? Why are there so many styles (over 3000!)? Why can’t we just write down the URL where we got the information from, isn’t that enough?




Welcome to Referencing 101, where all your referencing questions will be answered.


What is referencing?

The simplest explanation is ‘to provide citations for sources of information’. Whoa, okay, what’s a citation? It’s exactly the same as a reference – information that will help readers locate the sources you used or consulted when writing your assignment. This is known as a ‘citation’ or ‘citing’ a source. Don’t get confused with the language – the meaning is the same.
Correctly referencing your sources is an aspect of academic integrity, which is about honesty in your school work. It’s also used to avoid plagiarism by referencing the original source you used or adapted.




Why are there so many referencing styles?

Authors write for different audiences and different purposes, so the formatting of the reference is a ‘code’ for those familiar with the style. In this way, readers can quickly locate and understand the reference without getting confused or distracted, and can focus on the research.

Different disciplines also require different styles of referencing. Depending on the discipline, different elements of the reference are more important. For example, researchers in social sciences are more likely to use the APA (American Psychological Association) style of referencing, as it uses what is known as an author-date system. This system places high importance on the date of publication, appearing at the very front of the reference so that readers can immediately find out the currency of the sources.

Researchers who study the humanities would instead use MLA (Modern Language Association), where the date appears right at the end of the reference, as it is less important in this discipline.

Another aspect is that academics like to stick to tradition. They have been using certain referencing styles for many years and are hesitant to adopt another style. Basically, referencing isn’t going anywhere, so what better time to master it than right now?


What should I reference?

Any ideas or information from another source needs referencing. This includes graphs, data, direct quotes, opinions, tables, images, statistics – any information that you used in your assignment. As Princeton University sayswhen in doubt, cite. 


What referencing style should I use?

The referencing style that most closely aligns with Trinity Grammar School is APA (American Psychological Association). In this post you will learn how to reference for a range of resources using APA style. If your teacher asks you to use another style, come see the librarians! We are more than happy to help.


APA Basics

Bibliography vs. Reference List

You are most likely familiar with the term bibliography, but have you heard of a reference list? Both are a list of references at the end of your paper, listed in alphabetical order. The only difference is that a bibliography is a list of ALL sources you consulted for your assignment (this includes sources you referenced in the body of your assignment).
Reference List is specific to APA, and is almost exactly the same, however you only need to add sources you referenced in the assignment, not everything you consulted (like a bibliography).

MLA style asks for a ‘Works Cited’ list – they’re all basically the same thing, just with different titles. Make sure to ask your teacher if they require a bibliography or a reference list.


Book reference (1 author)





Surname, Initial. (Year). Title in italics. Place of publication: Publisher.


Cochrane, A. (2007). Understanding urban policy: A critical approach. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.


*Punctuation is important! Take note of every full stop, comma and use of italics


Book reference (2 or more authors)


Surname, Initial.,  & Surname, Initial. (Year). Title in italics. Place of publication: Publisher.


Palmer, G. R., & Short, S.D. (2010). Health care and public policy: An Australian analysis. South Yarra, VIC: Palgrave Macmillan.


Journal articles

Most of your journal articles will probably be retrieved from a database, such as JSTOR or Science in Context. This section will show you how to reference an online journal article in two ways.




  1. Journal article with DOI (Digital Object Identifier)

A DOI is a permanent link to a web page. It is important to have the most up to date and accurate information you can get for a reference, so if your journal article has a DOI, use it! Here’s how you reference one:


Surname, Initial. (Year). Title. Journal name, volume# (no.), page#-page#. doi: 00000000


Johns, E., & Mewhort, D. (2009). Test sequence priming in recognition memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 35 (2), 105-107. doi: 101.1037/a0016372
Note: Most journal articles will have a volume number and an issue number. If your journal article only has a volume number, that’s fine – just write the volume number.


Journal article without DOI (Digital Object Identifier)


If your journal article does not have a DOI, simply use the URL instead.


Surname, Initial. (Year). Title. Journal name, volume# (no.), page#-page#. Retrieved from [URL]



Ramalho, M., Da Silva, G., & Dias, L. (2009). Genetic plant improvement and climate changes. Crop Breeding ad Applied Biotechnology, 9 (2), 105-107. Retrieved from http://www.sbmp.org.br/cbab/siscbab/index.php


Web page

A lot of your supplementary information may be things you’ve read on web pages. Here’s how to reference web pages with different levels of information:

web page.jpg


Web page with author/sponsor


Author. (Year). Title in italics. Retrieved [date retrieved], from [URL]


University of Sydney. (2010). Guide to copyright. Retrieved March 21, 2011, from http://sydney.edu.au/copyright/students/coursework.shtml#who


Web page with no author/sponsor

When there is no author or sponsor, the title moves to the first entry of the reference.


Title. (Year). Retrieved [date retrieved], from [URL]


New child vaccine gets funding boost. (2001). Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://news.ninemsn.com.au/health/story13178.asp
Note: If the web page has no date, just put (n.d.). in place of the year.

Web document

A web document is different to a web page. Often web pages will have a link that leads to a web document, often as a PDF or word document. Now let’s see how to reference one!

PDF pic.png


Surname, Initial. (Year). Title in italics. Retrieved from [website name] website: [URL]


Simon, J., Smith, K., & West, T. (2009). Price incentives and consumer payment behaviour. Retrieved from the Reserve Bank of Australia website: http://www.rba.gov.au/PublicationsandResearch/RDP/RDP2009-04.html


Image – online

Often, online images don’t have a lot of details. Try clicking on the image, or looking at the bottom of the page. Try and get as much information as possible.

The reference is the same as for a book, however you need to include the Type of work in square brackets, for example [Online image], [Map], [Graph]. This comes directly after the title of the work. Include the role of creator if possible (see below examples).




Image reference with creator


Surname, Initial. (Role of creator). (Date). Title in italics [Type of work]. Retrieved [date retrieved] from [URL]

Example 1: 

O’Shea, P. (Photographer). (2010, August 29). Rescued hedgehog [digital image]. Retrieved 18th March 2015 from http://flickr.com/photos/peteoshea/5476076002/


Example 2:

Monet, C. (Painter). (1890). Haystacks, midday [Painting]. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Retrieved 2nd February 2011 from http://artsearch.nga.gov.au/Detail-LRG.cfm?IRN=29073&View=LRG


Image reference with no creator


Title of work [Type of work]. (Year). Retrieved [date retrieved] from [URL]


Revolution [Online image]. (n.d.). Retrieved 13th March 2016 from http://i.huffpost.com/gen/3439438/images/o-REVOLUTION-FIST-facebook.jpg

*Remember to use (n.d.). if there is no date associated with the image.


Image -No information at all!!

Write a short description of the image in square brackets, and include the URL.


[Untitled illustration of a meadow]. Retrieved December 2nd 2016 from http://www.meadowillustrations.com


Footnotes or in-text citations?

APA style does not use footnotes. If you need to use footnotes, you are using a different citation style, not APA. APA requires in-text citations. Your in-text citations must correspond to the references in your Reference List or bibliography.

You need to include an in-text citation anytime you “refer to, summarise, paraphrase or quote from another source”.

In-text citations are enclosed in parentheses ( ). You should include the page number where possible.

For almost all in-text citations, simply use the surname/s, and date.


(Cochrane, 2007)

If there is more than one author, your first in-text citation will include all author’s names and the date, like so:

(Seeley, Smith, Rogers & Russo, 2011, p.43)

After that first in-text citation, you can shorten it using ‘et al.’ (a Latin abbreviation meaning ‘and others’) for the rest of your assignment.

(Seeley, et al., 2011)

If there is no author, use the website name, or a shortened version of the article title, with the date. If there is no date, use (n.d.)., same as in your reference.


There are 2 ways you can write an in-text citation.

(1) Author-prominent
(2) Information-prominent

1. Author prominent

“Cochrane (2007), concluded that…”

2. Information prominent

“The conclusion reached in a recent study (Cochrane, 2007) was that…”


Feeling better about referencing?




Got more questions? Not using APA? See the librarians for help with other referencing styles, or ask us for an APA referencing cheat sheet.























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