I’ve written a separate post explaining why you should cite your sources. This post will focus on how to cite assuming you’re using the America Psychological Association (APA) citation style.
Common knowledge doesn’t need a citation. What counts as common knowledge is always changing, so use your judgement: would a reader not as familiar with the topic as you consider the information obvious?
A paraphrase of someone else’s ideas, a statistic, or a claim of a fact that is not commonly known needs to be cited. First, an in-text short citation must be placed in your writing nearest the information being cited (Doane, 2018). Then you also need a long-form citation entry in the references list at the end of your paper.
Doane, W. E. J. (2018). Writing Using APA Style. Retrieved from http://DrDoane.com/writing-using-apa-style/
Direct quotations must be cited and are “…a special case…” requiring a page number be added to the in-text citation indicating exactly where the quotation comes from (Doane, 2018 pp 3-4).
You can vary your in-text citation style so that your writing doesn’t seem too boilerplate:
Doane (2018) found that in-text citations were required by APA style, but missing in many student papers.
In-text citations are required by APA style, but missing in many student papers (Doane, 2018).
If a sentence or paragraph contains ideas from multiple pages within the same source, cite each page nearest to the information derived from that page. For example:
Direct quotations are "...a special case..." (Doane, 2018 pp 3-4) requiring a page number be added to the in-text citation "...indicating exactly where the quotation comes from" (ibid pp 7).
If a sentence or paragraph contains ideas from multiple sources, cite each source nearest to the information derived from that source. For example:
Direct quotations are "...a special case..." (Doane, 2018 pp 3-4) requiring a page number be added to the in-text citation indicating exactly where the quotation comes from so that "...ownership of specific ideas can be properly attributed to their originators" (Smith, 2015 pp 7).
If you find that you’re having difficulty identifying what needs to be cited or not cited, perhaps it’s because your writing contains broad generalizations. Consider refining your writing style as I show below.
You should begin most of your paragraphs with a specific claim of something you believe to be true based on your present knowledge of the topic. Subsequent sentences within the paragraph each provide evidence for the main claim of the paragraph, and those pieces of evidence should be cited (Doane, 2018). Marshaling your evidence in this way helps you to build your argument step by step, leading your reader to your conclusion. After all, the point of your writing is likely to convince your reader that you know what is likely to be true (your claim from the initial sentence) based on the evidence you've gathered (University of Minnesota Libraries, n.d.).
Doane, W. E. J. (2018). Writing Using APA Style. Retrieved from http://DrDoane.com/writing-using-apa-style/.
University of Minnesota Libraries (n.d.). Writing for Success. Retrieved from http://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/6-1-purpose-audience-tone-and-content/
For more information on APA style, visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).
One thought on “Writing Using APA Style”
Thank you for explaining this in a clear and simple way. This helped me quickly focus on the concept and not get bogged down in the mechanics; which will probably be important at some time later. 🙂
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