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How to Cite Sources : The Basics

Points to Ponder

  1. Sources must be provided in the usual scholarly fashion.  It helps to convince your reader that your proposal is worth pursuing if you can identify literature in the field and demonstrate that you understand it.
  2. You are required to use APA citation format as proposed by the Manual of the American Psychological Association.
  3. Please make sure that all materials cited in the text are also found in the list of references and vice versa. This will reflect your academic integrity in producing the research report.

The Basics
APA uses author-date citation system.  Author’s last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text. At the end of the paper, there should be a complete reference list of all sources you have used, arranged in alphabetical order.

These are the example of Author-Data Citation System:

  • Kessler (2003) found that among epidemiological samples…
  • Miele (1993) found that “the ‘placebo effect,’ which…

Citing References in Text
You will have to adhere to several techniques and methods when citing resources in text. All of these methods are determined on how you choose to do the citation. If you are:

1. Quoting Directly from Sources
Direct quotations allow you to acknowledge a source within your text by providing a reference to exactly where in that source you found the information. If you are quoting directly from sources, please observe these schemes:

1A. Short Quotation (Quoting less than 40 words)
When quoting less than 40 words, the phrase or sentence quoted should be incorporated in the text. You will have to mark the quoted sentence using double quotation marks. Include the author, year of publication and lastly, the page number of the sources.


Tunon (2006) found that “instructors may or may not want to require an abstract for class assignments” (p. 34).

MacDougall (2004) stated that “the Information Literacy Model needed to be implemented” (p. 34).

If however, the author is not mentioned in the signal phrase, place the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.


The principal stated, “Instructors may or may not want to require an abstract for class assignments” (Tunon, 2006, p. 34), but she concluded that they always summarized the essential content of the paper.

1B. Long Quotation (Quoting more than 40 words)

Quotations of more than 40 words shall be displayed in freestanding block of typewritten lines (block quote) and quotation marks are omitted. This block quote starts on a new line and is indented five spaces (half inches, or 1.3 cm) from the left margin. Double spacing is maintained.


Smith (1993) explained the following:

When people start using APA style for long quotations, it can be confusing. That is because they do not know the rules of quoting. Once the proper information is provided, they do not have any problem. Simply consulting the APA guide is the best solution. (p. 243)

2. Summarising or Paraphrasing from Sources
If you are summarising text from other sources and construct your own words to describe ideas from other works you may omit the location reference (pagination or paragraph number). However, you still have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference. At the end of the paper, there should be a complete reference list of all sources you have used, arranged in alphabetical order.


Polivy and Herman (2004) noted that we still do not know how or why sociocultural influences like the media contribute to some individuals developing eating disorders while others do not.

APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones, 1998).


American Psychological Association. (2010). Frequently asked questions about APA style. Retrieved Sep 7, 2010, from

In-text citations: The basics. (2010). Retrieved Sep 7, 2010, from

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Latest updated: 13th April 2014

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