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APA style was created by the American Psychological Association. It is a set of formatting and documentation rules for research published in the Social Sciences and Business. Papers submitted for publication in professional journals follow a slightly different set of rules than student papers do. The information in this guide pertains to student papers.
APA formatting rules tell us how different elements of a research paper should appear on the page. APA documentation rules tell us how to credit the sources we use in our work using a combination of in-text citations and a Reference list.
In APA, you must "cite" sources that you have paraphrased, quoted, or otherwise used to write your research paper. Cite a source in two places:
In the body of your paper where you add a brief in-text citation (sometimes called a parenthetical reference) for any ideas or data you’ve paraphrased (stated in your own words) or quoted directly using “quotation marks.”
In the Reference list at the end of your paper where you give more complete information for the source.
Citing: The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.
DOI (doi): Some electronic content, such as online journal articles, is assigned a unique number called a Digital Object Identifier (DOI or doi). An item can be tracked down online using its doi.
In-Text Citation: A brief note in your paper or essay, provided at the point where you use information from a source, to indicate where the information came from. An in-text citation should always match more detailed information that is available in the Reference List.
Paraphrasing: Taking information that you have read and putting it into your own words.
Plagiarism: Taking the ideas or words of another person and presenting them as your own without a citation.
Quoting: Copying words of text originally published elsewhere. Direct quotations appear in quotation marks and are followed by a citation that includes the page number of the source from which you copied the words.
Reference: Details about a cited source.
Reference List: Contains complete details of ALL the sources cited in a text or essay.
Retrieval Date: Used only for websites where content is likely to change over time (e.g., Wikis), the retrieval date refers to the date you last visited the website.
Source: Anything you use in your research and cite in your paper. There are many kinds of sources (all of which have their own citation formats), including entire books, individual book chapters, eBooks, periodicals (i.e., magazines, newspapers, journals), articles/essays, websites, films, poems, songs, Tweets, YouTube videos, TED Talks, TV shows, advertisements, etc.
Below is a summary of the major changes in the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual.
Style, Grammar, Usage:
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This citation guide is based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). The contents are accurate to the best of our knowledge.