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Referencing (TAFE)

American Psychological Association (APA) - Basic Information

Using the APA referencing style

APA is an "author-date" style. All information used in your work either as a direct quote, paraphrase or summary, obtained from another author or source needs to be correctly referenced in APA style.

The in-text citation briefly tells the reader where the reference comes from using the author and date within the text of the document.

The reference list placed alphabetically at the end of the essay, provides the reader with the full details of all sources cited in-text.

All in-text citations must have a corresponding reference list entry, similarly all reference list entries should have a corresponding in-text citations.

The rules of APA style are detailed in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 6th edition. The APA style was first developed in 1929 by a group of social scientists. Since then it has been adapted by many disciplines and is used by writers around the world.

This guide is based on more detailed information in:

  • American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).
  • American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). 
  • American Psychological Association. (2010). Concise rules of APA style (6th ed.).
  • American Psychological Association. (2019). Archival Documents and Collections
  • or otherwise stated on the specific pages.

In general, a reference should contain four elements, which you can remember as the four W's:

Who - author (who is responsible for the work?)

When - date the work was published

What - title of the work

Where - source (where can I retrieve this work?)

Example of Where to Find Reference Information 

Where to find reference information

Figure 1. Example of where to find reference information for a journal article [Image], From Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (p. 283), by American Psychological Association, 2020, American Psychological Association, Copyright 2020 American Psychological Association.


There are two parts to referencing: the citations within the text of your paper (in-text citation) and the reference list at the end of your paper. There are several referencing styles.

APA Style is a new online resource designed to assist in the application of APA style formatting rules.


Description                           Abbreviation

Edition                                           ed.

Revised edition                             Rev. ed.

Second edition                              2nd ed.

Editors(s)                                      Ed. or Eds.

'and others' (Latin)                        et al.

Translator(s)                                 Trans. 

Narrator(s)                                    Narr. or Narrs.

No date                                         n.d.

Page(s)                                         p. or pp.

Paragraph(s)                                para. or paras.

Volume(s)                                     Vol. or Vols.

Number                                         No.

Part                                               Pt.

Technical Report                          Tech. Rep.

Supplement                                  Suppl.



American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

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