Documenting Sources: Using apa format

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Documenting Sources: Using APA Format

Why Use APA Format?

  • Allows readers to cross-reference your sources easily
  • Provides consistent format within a discipline
  • Gives you credibility as a writer
  • Protects yourself from plagiarism

Cross-Referencing Your Sources

  • Cross-referencing allows readers to locate the publication information of source material. This is of great value for researchers who may want to locate your sources for their own research projects.

Using a Consistent Format

  • Using a consistent format helps your reader understand your arguments and the sources they’re built on.
  • It also helps you keep track of your sources as you build arguments.

Establishing Credibility

  • The proper use of APA style shows the credibility of writers; such writers show accountability to their source material.

Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Proper citation of your sources in APA style can help you avoid plagiarism, which is a serious offense. It may result in anything from failure of the assignment to expulsion from school.

Where Do I Find APA Format?

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed.
  • Composition textbooks
  • OWL website:
  • Writing Lab Grammar Hotline: 494-3723

Title Page

  • Papers in APA style require a title page.
  • The running head will be used as the header for the whole paper.
  • Include the paper’s title and the author’s name and affiliation.

APA Style: Two Main Concerns

  • Reference Page
  • Parenthetical Citations

Reference Page

  • A list of every source that you make reference to in your essay.
  • Provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any sources cited in your essay.
  • Each retrievable source cited in the essay must appear on the reference page, and vice versa.

A Sample Reference Page

Reference Page

  • Most citations should contain the following basic information:
  • Author’s name
  • Title of work
  • Publication information

References: Some Examples

  • Book Shay, J. (1994). Achilles in Vietnam: Combat trauma and the undoing of character. New York: Touchstone.
  • Article in a Magazine Klein, J. (1998, October 5). Dizzy days. The New Yorker, 40-45.

References: Some Examples

  • Web page Poland, D. (1998, October 26). The hot button. Roughcut. Retrieved October 28, 1998 from

References: Some Examples

  • A newspaper article Tommasini, A. (1998, October 27). Master teachers whose artistry glows in private. New York Times, p. B2.
  • A source with no known author Cigarette sales fall 30% as California tax rises. (1999, September 14). New York Times, p. A17.

Reference Page

  • What other types of sources might you need to list on your reference page?
  • Study the basics of APA citation format. When something odd comes up, don’t guess. Look it up!

When Should You Use Parenthetical Citations?

  • When quoting any words that are not your own
    • Quoting means to repeat another source word for word, using quotation marks

When Should You Use Parenthetical Citations?

  • When summarizing facts and ideas from a source
    • Summarizing means to take ideas from a large passage of another source and condense them, using your own words
  • When paraphrasing a source
    • Paraphrasing means to use the ideas from another source but change the phrasing into your own words

Keys to Parenthetical Citations

  • Readability
  • Keep references brief
  • Give only information needed to identify the source on your reference page
  • Do not repeat unnecessary information

Handling Quotes in Your Text

  • Author’s last name, publication year, and page number(s) of quote must appear in the text
  • Caruth (1996) states that a traumatic response frequently entails a “delayed, uncontrolled repetitive appearance of hallucinations and other intrusive phenomena” (p.11).
  • A traumatic response frequently entails a “delayed, uncontrolled repetitive appearance of hallucinations and other intrusive phenomena” (Caruth, 1996, p.11).

Handling Parenthetical Citations

  • Sometimes additional information is necessary . . .
  • More than one author with the same last name
  • (H. James, 1878); (W. James, 1880)
  • Two or more works in the same parentheses
  • (Caruth, 1996; Fussell, 1975; Showalter, 1997)
  • Work with six or more authors
  • (Smith et al, 1998)
  • Specific part of a source
  • (Jones, 1995, chap. 2)

Handling Parenthetical Citations

  • If the source has no known author, then use an abbreviated version of the title:
  • Full Title: “California Cigarette Tax Deters Smokers”
  • Citation: (“California,” 1999)

Handling Parenthetical Citations

  • A reference to a personal communication:
  • Source: email message from C. Everett Koop
  • Citation: (C. E. Koop, personal communication, May 16, 1998)
  • A general reference to a web site Source: Purdue University web site
  • Citation: (

Handling Parenthetical Citations

  • Recently, the history of warfare has been significantly revised by Higonnet et al (1987), Marcus (1989), and Raitt and Tate (1997) to include women’s personal and cultural responses to battle and its resultant traumatic effects. Feminist researchers now concur that “It is no longer true to claim that women's responses to the war have been ignored” (Raitt & Tate, p. 2). Though these studies focus solely on women's experiences, they err by collectively perpetuating the masculine-centered impressions originating in Fussell (1975) and Bergonzi (1996).
  • However, Tylee (1990) further criticizes Fussell, arguing that his study “treated memory and culture as if they belonged to a sphere beyond the existence of individuals or the control of institutions” (p. 6).

Handling Quotes in Your Text

  • There are many different combinations and variations within APA citation format.
  • If you run into something unusual, look it up!

Where can you go for additional help with APA documentation?

  • Purdue University Writing Lab
  • Heavilon 226
  • Grammar Hotline: (765) 494-3723
  • Check our web site:
  • Email brief questions:
  • Purdue University Writing Lab

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