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Plagiarism, Citation and Academic Honesty: APA

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APA Citation

APA citation is a two part process, and in virtually all circumstances, both parts must be present. These are: 

  1. An in-text citation at the point in your paper that you use the information from another source. In the case of personal communication (like a personal conversation or e-mail between you and your source), this is all you need.
  2. In every other circumstance, you also need a reference page citation. This gives your reader the information they need to find this source.

In APA citation, the in-text citation is a very shorthand version of the full citation. It consists of the author's last name and the year of publication, and in the case of an exact quotation, the page number (or location description) where the quote can be found. 

Sometimes, it is nice to use the original author's name within your sentence, especially the first time you refer to that source. Other times, using the author's name in a sentence is unnecessary, awkward or redundant. Therefore, the in-text citation information can be somewhat incorporated into the body of a sentence, or can be contained entirely into a parenthetical. The in-text citation will therefore look something like these examples:

Many people are fascinated by lighthouses - because of the symbolism of a beacon of light in the darkness, or the idea of the safety of a port in a storm, or by the imagery of the solitary caretaker. Perhaps because of this widespread fascination, lighthouses have long been the subject of lore, including stories of the paranormal. In fact, as Frederick Stonehouse (1997) notes, "Ghosts and old lighthouses seem to go hand in hand" (1). 

Why should this be so? What is it about a lighthouse that would so attract ghost activity? It is possible that it is the very nature of the work of a keeper that virtually ensures that the activity continues after death. The routine of climbing the tower to start the light at night and extinguish it at dawn, every day without fail becomes so ingrained in the very structure of the lighthouse itself that it echoes continuously, long after the keeper is gone (Stonehouse, 1997).

Please note:

The author's name and the year appear together, whether the author's name is used within the sentence itself or in a parenthetical. Think of these two pieces of information as conjoined twins. Where one goes, the other must as well.

In-text citations must appear in your paper at the point where information from another source is used, whether it is quotation or paraphrase or a summary. The only difference the type of use makes is whether or not a page number is required. It is required for an exact quotation, but is not required if it is a paraphrase or summary.

In APA Citation, you must have a references page at the end of your paper that gives complete information in alphabetical order by author's last name for every source you used within your paper except for personal communication. For each source, you must provide information to answer these questions:

Who wrote it?

This is the author. In APA, this is the author's last name, first initial, middle initial. For two authors, use the & in between. For three to seven authors, separate them with a comma and use the & between the last two authors. For more than seven, list the first six, use elipses (...) and then the last author without an &.

Example: Stonehouse, F.

When was it written?

This is the publication date. This information appears in parentheses after the author, and appears in year, month day order. Typically, a source will have at least a year for a publication date, but if it truly has no date, use (n.d.). 

Example: Stonehouse, F. (1997). 

What is it called?

This is the title of the source you're using. If you are using a book, it is the title of the book. If you're using an article, it is the title of the article itself. If you're using webpage, it is the title of the page (not the site itself, unless you are in fact, using the entire site). 

For most reference situations in APA, you use sentence case for capitalization. That means the first word of the title is capitalized, all proper nouns (names) are capitalized, and the first word after a colon. The exception to this is journal/magazine titles. Book titles are italicized, article titles and webpage titles are not.

Example: Stonehouse, F. (1997). Haunted lakes: Great Lakes ghost stories, superstitions and sea serpents. 

Where did it come from?

This is the publisher information for the source you're using. 

In the case of a book, it came from a city and state where a publisher is located. This will appear as the city, two letter postal code for the state: Publisher name.

In the case of an article, it came from a journal or magazine, which has a volume and issue number and a range of pages where the article appears. If you found the article electronically (in a database), it will usually have a DOI as well, or you provide the URL for the journal site where you found it or the database name. The journal title should have the same capitalization and punctuation as it does on the cover of the journal. The title and volume number should be italicized. This is a fake journal name, with other completely made up information as an example: FakeJOURNALname, 10(3), 15-23. doi: 52.1523/000000000000000000 00000.2

In the case of a webpage, it came from a website which has a URL. Use the phrase Retrieved [provide a date in month day, year format for a site that changes frequently like blog or wiki] from and provide the URL/web address (don't use a period after any URL in any type of reference)


Stonehouse, F. (1997). Haunted lakes: Great Lakes ghost stories, superstitions and sea serpents. Duluth, MN: Lake Superior Port Cities, Inc.

In the last example, the citation information went onto a second line. When that happens, use a hanging indent so that the second, third, etc. lines are indented from the first line. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to give a good example what this looks like here.

References are double spaced. Use Times New Roman 12 point font. (The citation examples are in Times New Roman, but a larger font for ease of visibility.)

Before beginning to format your paper, it may help you to see a sample paper. The OWL at Purdue has a good sample paper.

All papers in APA format should be double spaced with 1 inch margins, using Times New Roman 12 point font. 

There is always a cover page in an APA formatted paper. This will consist of:

The title of your paper

Your Name

Nicolet College (your educational institution)

centered in the top half of the first page. Your instructor may want a class name or some other identifying information. You should ask your instructor for guidance regarding your cover page. 

There is always a running head as well. This is a shortened version of the title of your paper in ALL CAPS flush left, and the page number flush right. On the first page, and only the first page, the words Running head:  appear before the actual running head. In WORD, this is accomplished by clicking in the header area and choosing the Different First Page option in the Design tab. 

If your instructor requires an abstract, it should appear on Page 2 of your paper. You should confer with your instructor as to whether or not an abstract is actually required for your paper. Do not assume that either your instructor does or doesn't want one. ASK.

Discuss the various other requirements of the paper with your instructor. Your instructor may expect such things as section headers, graphs, charts, illustrations. Make sure you have an understanding of what the expectations are. If you DO use graphs, charts, pictures and illustrations that you find from other sources, these must be cited as well. Talk to your instructor, and please see us in the library or a writing tutor for help.

Your references page should start on a new page. The word References should be centered at the top of the page. Your references should appear in alphabetical order by the author's last name. References should be strictly double spaced, with no extra spaces in between entries. When reference entries go onto more than one line (most will), use a hanging indent.

You may find it helpful to use an APA paper template. Here are some places to go to find one: 

Microsoft Office Template: APA style report (6th edition) APA Style Templates

Broadview University Library's APA Paper Templates


This guide does not provide advice for every possible type of source or citing situation. If you have an issue that doesn't seem to fit the scenarios provided, please ask us, visit the writing tutor, or visit another resource suggested here - such as the OWL at Purdue.

A lot of guidance for this guide came from the OWL at Purdue. It really is an amazing source. If you need more help with APA citation and you aren't able to connect with the with the library, writing tutors, or your instructor, our best advice is to visit the OWL

Citation in APA format for this resource would look something like this:

Paiz, J.M., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M.,...Keck, R. (2016, May 3). APA Formatting and Style Guide.   Retrieved from


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APA Citation Resources

These are resources that will help you understand APA citation and may provide answers to your questions!

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