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APA 7th Edition - University of Lincoln

Basics of APA referencing

There are two parts to APA referencing:

1 the in-text citation

2. the reference list entry

The in-text citation contains the basic information (author, date) about a source so acts as a signpost to your reader that this is someone else's work/ideas, etc. Your reader can then go to the reference list entry which contains the full details of the source. The information needed in the reference list entry is dependent on the type of source it is (e.g. book, journal article, webpage etc.).

APA uses the author/date style which means that the author's surname and date is used for the in-text citation. The reference list is arranged alphabetically by author surname followed by their initial(s) and then the date which makes it easy for your reader to find the corresponding reference list entry from the in-text citation information.

See the In-text citations and Reference list entries on the blue left hand menu bar for more guidance, information and examples of how to formulate these in your academic work.

Why do you need to reference?

Referencing is important in academic writing and as essential part of any assignment. It is acknowledging the sources you have used in your academic work.​ It shows that your work is based on knowledge and informed by appropriate academic reading.


  • backs up your arguments and gives credibility to your work​

  • demonstrates your understanding of the topic area​

  • allows your reader to locate and verify the accuracy of the sources you have used​

  • helps prevents accusations of plagiarism.​

What is plagiarism?


Plagiarism is passing off someone else's work as you own either intentionally or unintentionally. 

This can be someone else’s​

  • ideas or theories​

  • words or writing​

  • data or scientific findings​

  • images or pictures​

The key to avoiding plagiarism is to reference correctly so you know when and how to give credit to other authors in your work.

Check out the Library's plagiarism tutorial for more guidance.


What should I reference?

What should I reference?

You should always reference a source when:

  • using a direct quote
  • summarising a theory
  • discussing someone else's opinion
  • using case studies
  • quoting statistics or visual data
  • but not when stating your own opinion, observation or experience.

Need help?

Alexis Lamb ( and
(Academic Subject Librarian for Psychology and Sport)
(01522) 886078

Subject guides available at:

Tracey Newby (
(Academic Subject Librarian for Education)
(01522) 886087

Subject guide available at:


Recordings of Library APA referencing webinars

Introduction to APA Referencing


Overview of the changes introduced in the 7th edition of APA referencing