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APA Format and Citation Guide: Home

Information Literacy

Style Guide

Why do we cite references and when?

Citations and references serve an important role at the academic and professional level.  They tell the readers of your writing:

  • Where you located information to support your ideas.
  • What kind of research you conducted and how far you searched for information.
  • How is your research and writing connected connected to the work of other scholars.
  • What you base your authority on as a writer and a researcher.

Why Should I Cite?

Citing your sources

  • connects you to other scholars.
  • provides credit to the works that you cite.
  • ensures that your writing is given consideration as a valid contribution to scholarship in your field.
  • avoids plagiarism and meets the requirements set forth in assignments here at USSA.

When Should I Cite?

Citations are required whenever you quote, paraphrase, or summarize another person's work.


What is the difference between a citation and a reference?

"Some people use the words citation and reference interchangeably.  Are they really the same thing?  What is the difference?

Citations and references are teammates.  When you cite a source, you are using a citation and a reference.

  • The citation, often called an "in-text citation", is placed in your writing at the point where you are using information from a source.  To demonstrate the location of the citation, it is placed in parentheses and is also referred to as "parenthetical documentation".
  • The reference is the source of the information that you used in your writing and appears in a list at the end of your writing.

Citation (In-Text)                       Reference (at end of paper)                                                       

(Smith, 2014, p. 3)                 Smith, A. R. (2014).  Sports analysis in esports. McMillan Press, New York.

Remember, a common mistake made by students is to have in-text citations for resources that do not appear on the References Page because the student has forgotten to place the source on the Reference Page.  Always check to make sure you have references for every in-text citation.  

Also, don't include references on your References page that you did not quote, paraphrase, or summarize.  That is called padding your bibliography and is not an acceptable academic practice.

Types of APA Papers

There are two common types of papers written in fields using APA Style: the literature review and the experimental report (dissertation). Each has unique requirements concerning the sections that must be included in the paper.  Please visit  HERE to learn about these paper types.