Guide to APA referencing

Please download the APA Referencing Guide by clicking the icon on the right of this page.


Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else’s research or ideas and passing them off as one’s own. In the words used by Yale University on its web site,  it is the "... use of another's work, words, or ideas without attribution," which includes "... using a source's language without quoting, using information from a source without attribution, and paraphrasing a source in a form that stays too close to the original." (Quoted in Wikipedia,, sighted on 14 May 2014).

Plagiarism is academic fraud or dishonesty, and is a serious ethical offence which can result in disciplinary measures up to and including expulsion.  Because the internet has made the physical act of copying the work of others so much easier, most academic institutions use detection software to check students’ work for plagiarism. At TPP, the software used is TurnItIn, which is available to both staff and students through the library.

Obviously, students must use the work of others in their assignments. The “fair use” clauses of the Copyright Act permit such use for educational purposes, as long as it is correctly attributed. TPP’s referencing style guide is APA, 6th ed. As long as students provide accurate citations using APA style for all material which has been quoted or paraphrased from another source, then they will be safe from accusations of plagiarism.

Tip: When you copy and paste material from the internet into your draft assignment, use a colour code - for example, red for a direct quotation and blue for a paraphrase. This will remind you that these sentences or paragraphs in your assignment need to be referenced before you hand it in. 


What is a citation?

A “citation” is the way you tell your readers that certain material in your work came from another source.  It also gives your readers the information necessary to find that source again, including:

  • information about the author
  • the title of the work
  • the name and location of the company that published your copy of the source
  • the date your copy was published
  • the page numbers of the material you are borrowing

Why should I cite sources?

Giving credit to the original author by citing sources is the only way to use other people’s work without plagiarizing.  But there are a number of other reasons to cite sources:

  • Citations are extremely helpful to anyone who wants to find out more about your ideas and where they came from. 
  • Not all sources are good or right – your own ideas may often be more accurate or interesting than those of your sources.  Proper citation will keep you from taking the rap for someone else’s bad ideas.  
  • Citing sources shows the amount of research you’ve done.
  • Citing sources strengthens your work by lending outside support to your ideas.

Doesn’t citing sources make my work seem less original?

Not at all.  On the contrary, citing sources actually helps your reader distinguish your ideas from those of your sources.  This will actually emphasize the originality of your own work.   

When do I need to cite?

Whenever you borrow words or ideas, you need to acknowledge their source.  The following situations almost always require citation:

  • Whenever you use quotes
  • Whenever you paraphrase
  • Whenever you use an idea that someone else has already expressed
  • Whenever you make specific reference to the work of another
  • Whenever someone else’s work has been critical in developing your own ideas.