Referencing - APA

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Referencing – brief guide to APA

It is important to acknowledge sources used in researching your subject – so that you can

  • show familiarity with the literature
  • help the reader follow up your sources
  • avoid any accusations of plagiarism (ie of directly lifting chunks of other people’s work, which can be a disciplinary offence)

There are no absolute rules for setting out bibliographic information, but Jordanhill Campus practice should be based on APA (American Psychological Association) style, with references always:

  • Correct : write down the full reference at the time you make notes from a book or an article and double check every detail.
  • Complete : never omit page numbers (especially when making a direct quotation), volume numbers, or date.  Remember you are guiding your reader to the source you used.
  • Consistent : stick to the same style punctiliously throughout.

NB.  Music staff prefer music students to use guidance from the Associated Board publication Music in words.

There are two steps in referencing – referring to the sources you’ve used in the body of your assignment , and bringing those sources together in a complete alphabetical Reference List at the end. Do not include in the Reference List works that you have read, but which you have not cited in your text – some tutors welcome a separate bibliography of works consulted, but you would need to check.


In your text cite the author as follows:

Murray (2006) gives an overview of the problems of thesis writing


It may be appropriate to vary style with context:  “Audience and purpose are always the key in any communication act” (Murray, 2006, p.24)

If quoting an author directly (rather than summarising), be sure to use quotation marks and exact page reference.  For a long passage (40 words or more), indent whole extract slightly to the right and omit quotation marks.  If you shorten a quote, indicate the removed section by substituting a sequence of three dots “…”

In the Reference List the entry would appear as

Murray, R.  (2006).  How to write a thesis (2nd ed.).  Buckingham: Open U.P.

and all the references should be arranged alphabetically by author’s surname.

Chapters in edited books

Cite in your text the author of the chapter;  in the Reference List:

Moorhouse, H.F.  (1994).  From zines like these?  In G. Jarvie & G. Walker (Eds.), Scottish sport in the making of the nation (pp.173-194)Leicester: Leicester U.P.

Citing different chapters by different authors from the same book requires separate entries under each chapter author in the Reference List.

Secondary Citation

To cite something you have not seen directly, but have read about, you must cite the text you have actually seen, not the one you wish you had seen, so in the following example…

There is evidence parenting styles have a profound effect on children’s development (Baumrind, as cited by Cole & Cole, 2001)

… cite Cole and Cole rather than Baumrind.  (However be sparing of this type of indirect citation – if carried to extremes, eg quoting a government report from a newspaper description, this can look merely as if you lacked motivation to get hold of the original.)

Articles in Journals, Newspapers etc

In the Reference List use the formula:

Fuller, R.  (1989).  Problems and possibilities in studying preventive work.  Adoption and Fostering, 13(1), 9-13.

Deveney, C.  (1995, October 15).  In two minds.  Scotland on Sunday Spectrum, pp. 1-2.

For an anonymous newspaper article, in the Reference List:

Watchdog bans stutter ‘cure’ advert. (2009, December 9). The Herald, p. 7.

- and in your text, in the absence of an author, use a short form of the title if the full form is unwieldy eg (“Watchdog,” 2009).

Electronic Resources

In your text the same principles apply as for printed documents – though page numbers may need to be replaced by paragraph numbers or by subheadings.

In the Reference List, the format is much the same as for a printed source, but add the web address (“URL”), and ignore the place of publication and publisher.

Web Documents

University of North Carolina Writing Center.  (2007).   Essay exams.  Retrieved from

[nb – do not add punctuation after a URL (eg do not terminate it with a full stop) in case this is wrongly construed as an integral part of the address]

Kendrick, A.  (1998).  Bullying and peer abuse in residential child care : A brief review.  Retrieved from Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care web site:

[nb – it can be useful to spell out the institutional affiliation of the author if this is not otherwise clear]

Scottish Government (2010).  Growing up in Scotland: Health inequalities in the early years.  Retrieved from

Web Article

Fahmy, E.  (2009).  Tackling youth exclusion in the UK.  Social Work and Society 6(2).  Retrieved from

[nb – some ejournals are single incremental databases;  others still batch articles into ‘issues’.]

Discussion list

Williams, A.J. (2003, August 6).  Religious artefacts.  [Online forum comment].

[nb – some lists do not archive material – in such cases referencing services little purpose.  If there is a message number give it after the thread title]


Some sources advise citing emails with the addresses of sender and recipient ; this raises important security issues, so it is recommended you use the same format as for a traditional letter, by citing in the text, e.g. D. Alcock (personal communication, 9th September 2010) – and not including an entry in the Reference List

Website generally

Try to avoid citing a whole site, but if you must do this, give it in the text only (not also in the Reference List), undated – eg “Biz/ed is a useful source of teaching materials (

Print or electronic?

We suggest that if you cite a facsimile of a paper original (eg a journal article or Act of Parliament) (usually in PDF format), you cite it as if it was the printed original.

Other Aspects of Reference Layout


If no publication date is given, write n.d. in parentheses, e.g. Smith, J (n.d.).
In the text, this would read eg "Smith (n.d.) says ..."


Thoburn, J., Chand, A., & Procter, J.  (2005).  Child welfare services for ethnic minority families.  London: Jessica Kingsley.

In the text this would read eg “Thorburn, Chand, and Procter (2005) claim that …"

6 OR MORE AUTHORS – use first author followed by et al.

(In the text this would read eg “Smith et al. (2007) state that …”)


Chambers biographical dictionary.  (1984).  Edinburgh: Chambers.


Scottish Executive  (2003).  Research strategy for health and healthcare.  Edinburgh: Author.

Shelter.  (1992).  The Shelter-MORI housing poll.  London: Shelter.

Committee on Alternatives to Prosecution.  (1993).  Keeping offenders out of court.  London: HMSO.


Education (Scotland) Act 1996, ch.43.

Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007, asp 4.

Nb  the title of the Act alone is sufficient, without further publication details, except that the convention is then to add for Westminster legislation the chapter number [1996 Ch43 – 43rd Act of 1996] ; or plus asp number (“Acts of the Scottish Parliament”) for Scottish legislation.


Webb, N.L.  (1993).  Mathematics education reform in California.  In R. Andrews (Ed.), Science and mathematics education in the United States: Eight innovations : Proceedings of a conference, Paris, 1991 (pp. 143-156).  Paris: OECD.


Logan, J.L. (1974).  The training of teachers for further education in Scotland.  Unpublished M.Ed. thesis, University of Glasgow.


Do not include in the Reference List (unless publicly available eg in an archive); in the text put eg “John Brown (personal communication, January 30, 2007) stated that …”.


Opinion varies on the advisability of citing lectures you have attended as part of your course; it is probably a good idea to avoid this wherever possible. As the data is not published in the accepted sense, it should not be included in the Reference List – in the text put eg “There is a widespread belief in the voluntary sector (Gordon Mackie , BACE2 lecture, University of Strathclyde, October 14, 2010) that …”

Putting Your References in Order

References should  be arranged alphabetically by surname – but :

More than one reference by an author in one year : distinguish by adding “a, b, c” to the date eg in the text “Wragg (1999a) found …”

In the Reference List this would appear as

Wragg, E.C.  (1999a).  Introduction to classroom observation.  (2nd ed.).  London: Routledge.

Joint authorship.  Put works where author is sole author before where the same writer is a joint author, so …

Wragg, E.C.  (2001).  Assessment and learning in the primary school.  London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Wragg, E.C.  (2003).  Education education education.  London: Kogan Page.

Wragg, E.C. & Brown, G.  (2001).  Explaining in the primary school.  London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Further Guidance

For further guidance, consult the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (REF 820-4(09) PUB) – or the links listed on the Docstyles website may be useful.

Alternatively e-mail Irene Stirling, Sub-librarian


pagination – convention is to precede page numbers for book chapters and newspaper articles with p. (for one page) and pp. (for more than one) but to omit this for journal articles

italicisation – italicise book titles and journal titles, BUT NOT chapter titles or article titles. For journals, Italicise volume number, BUT NOT part number, hence 13(1).