3 APA Citations

Professors at Confederation College will require you to format your assignments according to APA conventions and use the APA method for any paper or presentation that contains information taken from a source.

Always use the Confederation College APA Manual as a guide to ensure your work is correct.

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

  • cite your sources by including an in-text citation for paraphrases and quotes
  • use narrative style citations
  • use parenthetical style citations

APA Citations 

The APA method of creating citations and references allows readers to easily find the source of information you’ve used in an assignment or report. When you cite your sources, you give credit to the original source of the information, and you strengthen your argument by showing that your ideas are supported by facts and opinions published by experts in the field.

For an overview of using APA to give credit to your sources, watch this 30-minute video: APA Citations and References.

In-text Citations

You must include in-text citations next to EVERY item of information from a source.  A source can be any text, video, or podcast that you took information from.

An in-text citation tells the reader the author’s last name and the publication year. You also need to include a page number (or paragraph number if your document doesn’t have pages) or a time-stamp (if your information came from a video or podcast) to tell your reader exactly where in the source the information is from.  You must put these citations next to EVERY item of information from a source.

If you don’t have an author, or if you don’t know the year of publication, don’t worry – you can still cite your source. Your APA manual explains these issues in detail.

General Guidelines for Tricky Sources

  • If there’s no publication date, use the abbreviation for no date (n.d.)
  • If there’s no author, use the name of the government agency or organization: (Statistics Canada, 2020, para. 1).
  • If there is no author or organization, use an abbreviation of the article/website title in place of the author’s name: (“10 tips”, n.d., para. 2).
  • If you have two authors, list both of their last names: (Smith & Jones, 2020, p. 4).
  • If you have more than two authors, state the first author’s last name and the Latin phrase et al. : (Smith et al., 2021, p. 27)
  • If there are no page numbers but the source has headings, give the name of the heading, followed by the word “section” and the number of the paragraph within the section it is from (Smith, 2012, Discussion section, para. 3)

If you use information from a source and you do not include a citation, you have committed an act of academic dishonesty called plagiarism. Please review Confederation College’s “Academic Integrity Policy” and the “Student Charter of Rights and Responsibilities”. Plagiarism is a serious offence.

Learning Check

Paraphrasing, Patchwriting, and Direct Quoting

When you include information from a source, you might paraphrase (put in your own words) or directly quote (using the exact words from the source) that information.

Both paraphrased and directly quoted information need to be cited.

Most professors prefer students to paraphrase information. When you paraphrase information, you put that information into your own words. By restating the information, you demonstrate to your professor that you have a strong understanding of the content of the original.

Paraphrasing, however, is NOT the same as patchwriting.

To learn more about paraphrasing, review the Paraphrasing and Paraphrasing vs. Patchwriting chapters of this e-text.

If you directly quote some information from a source, you need to put the author’s words in “quotation marks.” These “quotation marks” show that you have borrowed the author’s words as well as their ideas or information. If you’ve put the information into your own words, then you do not use “quotation marks”, but you still need to include a citation to show where the information is from. To learn more about direct quoting, review the Direct Quoting chapter of this e-text.

Learning Check

Signal phrases: Narrative and Parenthetical Style Citations

There are two ways to include your in-text citation:

  1. parenthetical style
  2. narrative style
Direct Quote Paraphrase
Parenthetical  According to one government report on Canadian immigrants, “20%  experienced over-qualification at least once in 2006 or in 2016” (Statistics Canada, 2020, para. 2). One government report claimed that approximately one fifth of immigrants to Canada are over-qualified for the jobs they obtain in this country (Statistics Canada, 2020, para. 2).
Narrative Statistics Canada (2020reported that “20% experienced over-qualification at least once in 2006 or in 2016” (para. 2). Statistics Canada (2020) stated that approximately one fifth of immigrants to Canada are over-qualified for the jobs they obtain in this country (para. 2).

In the parenthetical style, all three pieces of citation information (author, date, location) are placed in parentheses at the end of the sentence, just before the final period.

In the narrative style, the three pieces of information are still present, but they are not placed together. The author (or the organization functioning as the author) is part of the sentence, so it is not in parentheses. The date always must be placed next to the author, and the location (page or paragraph number) must be placed at the end of the sentence, just before the final period.

Tip: If you are citing the same source multiple times in one paragraph, you should use the narrative style first, to introduce the source. Use the parenthetical style for each subsequent citation.

Notice that APA style generally requires the use of past tense verbs to introduce quotes or paraphrases. Check out this list of appropriate  words that you can use.

Learning Check

Additional Resources for APA Citations

Review the basic principles of in-text citations as well as specifics on paraphrasing, quoting, and different citation types (narrative and parenthetical) on the APA citations section of the official APA style website.

Many teachers recommend the OWL Purdue website. It has lots of information and examples to strengthen your understanding of APA guidelines.

Sheridan College has created a series of videos to help you with APA. Check out their videos on creating in-text citations.

Lycoming College has created this fun and interactive online plagiarism game game to help you review the basics of APA citations and references.

To learn more about paraphrasing and patchwriting, review this slideshare tutorial.



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