referencing style

What is APA? Your assignment states – Please reference using the APA style – 6th ed. You think to yourself … “Arrrgghhh… what does that mean, why do I have to do it and how do I do it!?”
APA is one of many referencing styles used in academic writing. APA stands for American Psychological Association. The Association outlines the style in the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association [APA] (6th ed.).
UCOL programmes utilise the APA referencing style.
There are many different referencing styles (over 100). It is essential to follow the style specified in your assignments and not to mix styles. Consistency of style is important!
Why reference?
When you reference you use the standardised style to acknowledge the source of information used in your assignment.
It is important (morally & legally) to acknowledge someone else’s ideas or words you have used. Academic writing encourages paraphrasing information you have researched and read. Paraphrasing means re-wording something you have read in to your own words. If you use someone else’s words or work and fail to acknowledge them – you may be accused of plagiarism and infringing copyright.
Referencing correctly enables the marker or reader of your assignment to locate the source of the information. They can verify the information or read further on the topic.
Referencing also allows for you to retrace your steps and locate information you have used for assignments and discover further views or ideas discussed by the author.
By referencing clearly and correctly, it demonstrates you have undertaken research on the assignment topic and located relevant information.
There are two main parts to referencing:

  1. The first indicating within your assignment the sources of the information you have used to write your assignment. This demonstrates support for your ideas, arguments and views. Sometimes this is referred to as: citing in text, in text citations or text citations
  2. The second part to referencing is the construction of a reference list. The reference list shows the complete details of everything you cited and appears in an alphabetical list on a separate page, at the end of your assignment.
    Tip: Everything you have cited in text appears in your reference list and likewise… everything that appears in your reference list will have been cited in text! Check this is the case prior to handing in your assignment. (The exception is when using a personal communication. Personal communications are cited in text but do not appear in the reference list. See page 25).
    A guide to APA referencing – 6th edition
    The following guide provides some general rules and examples using the 6th ed. of APA. For further information and help:
     Refer to the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) [from here on referred to as the APA manual], especially chapters 6 & 7. Copies are available at the UCOL Library, some for borrowing, some on Desk reserve. [Shelf number: 808.027 PUB]
     Student Experience Team members (Learning Services & Library staff) are available to assist with referencing
     See the APAstyle website (
     Plus there are APA wizards freely available online and Microsoft Word provides a built-in referencing function (Note: some editing maybe required when using these tools)
    How to reference
  3. In text citations
    Even though you have put someone else’s ideas or information in your own words (i.e. paraphrased), you still need to show where the original idea or information came from. This is all part of the academic writing process.
    When citing in text within an assignment, use the author/s (or editor/s) last name followed by the year of publication. Example: Water is a necessary part of every person’s diet and of all the nutrients a body needs to function, it requires more water each day than any other nutrient (Whitney & Rolfes, 2011). or Whitney and Rolfes (2011) state the body requires many nutrients to function but highlight that water is of greater importance than any other nutrient. or Water is an essential element of anyone’s diet and Whitney and Rolfes (2011) emphasise it is more important than any other nutrient.
    Reference list entry:
    Whitney, E., & Rolfes, S. (2011). Understanding nutrition (12th ed.). Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
    Note: This book did not have a city for place of publication, just a country. Extra note: This book has an edition. This information is included straight after the title.
    A guide to APA referencing – 6th edition
    1.1. Three, four or five authors
    If a work has three (3), four (4) or five (5) authors, cite all authors the first time and from then on include only the last name of the first author followed by the words et al. (‘et al.’ is Latin for ‘and others’) Example: Research can be defined as a systematic method of creating new knowledge or a way to verify existing knowledge (Watson, McKenna, Cowman & Keady, 2008). Deciding on a research method demands the researcher consider carefully the problem or area of investigation being researched (Watson et al., 2008).
    Reference list entry:
    Watson, R., McKenna, H., Cowman, S., & Keady, K. (Eds.). (2008). Nursing reseach: Designs and methods. Edinburgh, Scotland: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
    Note: The people were identified as the editors, hence ‘(Eds.)’ is a shortened version of Editors.
    1.2. Six or seven authors
    If a work has six (6) or more authors, cite only the last name of the first author followed by et al. each time you refer to this work.
    Example: (Mikosch et al., 2010)
    Reference list entry: When a source has up to seven (7) authors, include all names in the reference list.
    Mikosch, P., Hadrawa, T., Laubreiter, K., Brandl, J., Pilz, J., Stettner, H., & Grimm, G. (2010). Effectiveness of respiratory-sinus-arrhythmia biofeedback on state-anxiety in patients undergoing coronary angiography. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66(5), 1101-1110.
    1.3. Eight or more authors
    When there are eight (8) or more authors, cite only the last name of the first author followed by ‘et al.’ each time you refer to this work. Example: (Vissing et al., 2004)
    Note in the reference list: When there are eight (8) or more authors, include the first six (6) authors’ names and then use ellipsis points (…) before concluding with the last author’s name.
    A guide to APA referencing – 6th edition
    Reference list entry:
    Vissing, K., Brink, M., Lonbro, S., Sorensen, H., Overgaard, K., Danborg, K., … Aagaard, P. (2008). Muscle adaptations to plyometric vs. resistance training in untrained young men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(6), 1799-1810.
    1.4. Groups as authors
    The names of groups that serve as authors (e.g., corporations, associations, government agencies) are usually written in full each time they appear in a text citation. The names of some group authors (e.g., associations, government agencies) are spelled out in the first citation and abbreviated thereafter. In deciding whether to abbreviate the name of a group author, use the general rule that you need to give enough information in the text citation for the reader to locate the entry in the reference list without difficulty. Some groups are recognised by an abbreviation (e.g., WHO for World Health Organisation). Refer to the APA manual, 2010, p. 176. First text citation: (Ministry of Health [MOH], 2007). Second & subsequent citations: (MOH, 2007).
    Reference list entry:
    Ministry of Health. (2007). Looking at long-term residential care in a rest home or hospital: What you need to know. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.
    Note: If the author and publisher are the same – Author – can be used to indicate the publisher in place of the full name. See the example above.
    Group as author no abbreviation
    New Zealand House of Representatives, Health Committee. (2007, August). Inquiry into obesity and type 2 diabetes in New Zealand: Report presented to the House of Representatives. Retrieved from In text citation: (New Zealand House of Representatives, Health Committee, 2007).
    1.5. Similar information referred to by more than one author
    There may be occasion to refer to more than one source in relation to similar information. In this case, list the sources in alphabetical order within the brackets, separated by a semi-colon. Example: Resilience is seen as the ability to overcome adversary, combat stress and bounce back from hardship (Dawson, 2006; Overton, 2005).
    A guide to APA referencing – 6th edition
    Reference list entry:
    Dawson, L. (2006). Wise up!: How to be fearless and fulfilled in midlife. Auckland, New Zealand: Random House New Zealand.
    Overton, A. (2005). Stress less: Make stress work for you not against you. Auckland, New Zealand: Random House New Zealand.
    1.6. Same author and same date
    If a work has the same author and same date, differentiate between them by assigning lowercase letters a, b, c, etc. They are listed in the reference list alphabetically by title (excluding A or The). Refer to the APA manual, 2010, p. 178, 182. Examples: Eyes are susceptible to melanoma, even though it is rare (Cancer Society of New Zealand, 2013a). According to the Cancer Society of New Zealand (2013b) the rate of…
    Reference list entry:
    Cancer Society of New Zealand. (2013a). Ocular melanoma: Information sheet. Retrieved from
    Cancer Society of New Zealand. (2013b). Reducing your cancer risk. Retrieved from
    1.7. One work by one author, when the author is cited more than once in a paragraph
    Refer to the APA Manual, 2010, p 174 (section 6.11)
    The rules for this are quite complex, mostly because there is one rule for citations in brackets (parenthetical) and other rules for citations that are part of the narrative.
    ‘Part of the narrative’ means that the reference is part of a sentence, and not in brackets. Examples If a citation is part of the narrative, it looks like ‘According to Jones (2013)…, or Jones (2013) states that…. If a citation is parenthetical, it looks like ‘(Jones, 2013)’.
    A guide to APA referencing – 6th edition
    Citations in brackets (parenthetical) One rule, very straightforward.
    The APA manual states that the year should be included in all citations that are in brackets.
    “Do include the year in all parenthetical citations” (APA, 2010, p. 174)
    This applies irrespective of the style (part of the narrative, or parenthetical) of the first citation. Example from APA manual (2010, p. 174) Among epidemiological samples, Kessler et al. (2003) found that early onset social anxiety disorder results in a more potent and severe course. ….The study also showed that there was a high rate of comorbidity with alcohol abuse or dependence and major depression (Kessler et al., 2003).