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APA Citation Style: Citation Basics

An Olds College guide to APA Citation Style, 6th Edition.

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APA Citation Style Checklist


A citation or reference is a way of giving credit to individuals for their creative and intellectual works that you used in your research.

Citing your sources = your best defense against plagiarism

There are two parts to a citation:

1. In-text citation that goes next to the quoted, paraphrased, or summarized material

2. Reference list found at the end of a paper or report

Each in-text citation resource must appear in the Reference list, and each entry in the Reference list must come from an in-text citation.

In-text Parenthetical citation: “CIBC Mellon was facing this oncoming global 

financial storm with a solid balance sheet” (Beamish, 2012, p.21). {Contains

the author’s last name, year of publication and page number}

In-text Narrative citation:  In 2003, Woodcock and Beamish covered a variety of 

concepts on Strategic Management…  OR Woodcock and Beamish (2003) covered 

a variety...

Reference List: (in alphabetical order by author’s last name)

Beamish, P. W. (2012). Cases in Strategic Management (10th ed.).McGraw-Hill.

Woodcock, C.P. & Beamish, P.W. (2003). Concepts in Strategic Management


(6th ed.). McGraw-Hill.


  • Referring to a source and stating someone else's opinions, thoughts, ideas, or research
  • Using an image or media file that you did not create


  • Your thoughts and your interpretations
  • Common knowledge: facts or ideas which are widely known or widely agreed upon

Check out these resources for help with APA citation formatting: 

Direct Quote, Paraphrase, or Summary?

A direct quote is taking something word for word, spelling mistakes included. Make sure you include an in-text citation when you're done. 

Short quotation example: 

"Scientists disagree on how different aroma is from other senses in provoking memory or emotion." (Hieronymus, 2012, p. 31)


Hieronymus, S. (2012). For the love of hops: The practical guide

to aroma, bitterness, and the culture of hops. Brewers Publications.  


For quotations longer than 40 words use a block quotation format. The quotation should be indented 1/2 inch from the left margin. The quote citation comes after the period if one is present in the quote.


Block quotation example:

To sign my work in a distinctive, repeatable way, I ordered a custom brand. Available at major online woodworking retailers, these come in electric and torch-heated versions. But it always feels a little risky to apply a hot iron to a finished piece of work. To eliminate the risk and make my maker's mark even more distinctive, I burn a whole row of brands into a strip of thin wood, and then cut it apart to create a stack of custom nameplates. I use hard maple about 1/s in. thick, cut just wider than the height of my brand. After burning a row of brands into the strip, I sand the surface a little, cut it apart to create the nameplates, and bevel the edges of each one, storing them in a baggie. When I need one, it's ready to go and I attach it with cyanoacrylate glue or brass brads. No waiting for the iron to heat up, and no risk. (Kuhn, 2018)


Kuhn, W. (2018, December). Sign your work with branded nameplates. 

Fine Woodworking, (271), 14. 


Paraphrasing is more challenging than it looks. However, it is vital to your research. 

To properly paraphrase, read the paragraph, or the entire page, around the idea you want to use. Make sure it makes sense in the context of your assignment. Then, close your source and ask yourself: "what did it say?" If you can explain it without memorizing it, you can be fairly confident that's what you need to use to paraphrase. 

Original Quotation example: 

"Farmers learned long ago that most [hops] varieties grow better in a particular region and sometimes not at all in others" (Hieronymus, 2012). 

(Note: [hops] is not original. It was placed in the quotation to help clarify the topic). 

Properly Paraphrased: 

Studies have proven what farmers have known for a while; that different variety of hops, or even the same variety, grows better or worse depending on the region in which it is grown (Hieronymus, 2012).  

Improperly Paraphrased:

Farmers have known for a while that varieties of hops grow better in particular regions, or not at all in others. 

Note that the improperly paraphrased sentence is very similar to the original, and is missing the citation. 


Hieronymus, S. (2012). For the love of hops: The practical guide to aroma,

bitterness, and the culture of hops. Brewers Publications.  

A summary discusses the general idea or purpose of a source. You must still include an in-text citation. 


Hieronymus' (2012) book on hops discusses the history of hops and how brewers use them in their products. 


Hieronymus, S. (2012). For the love of hops: The practical guide

to aroma, bitterness, and the culture of hops. Brewers Publications. 


Citation Generators

If you don't need to cite very many resources, you might want to use one of the following citation generators.
You should always double check generated citations!

Always double check your references - if you enter information incorrectly, the citation generator will spit it back incorrectly.

Note on editions of APA: The most recent edition of APA is the 7th. Not all generators have transitioned to the newest version. We have indicated beside each generator which edition they are using.

APA Video