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APA Citation and Formatting: Definitions

Attention Students!

This guide is a starting point. For full details on correctly citing resources and creating references, please consult
the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th Ed.) (2020), or Cites & Sources (6th Ed.) (2021).

Please Note! Library staff do not teach APA, and cannot evaluate or correct work. If you need help with APA Style, please contact your instructor.


Academic Dishonesty
Academic dishonesty "includes a variety of actions including, but not limited to, plagiarism, conflict of interest, cheating, falsification, misrepresentation and fraudulent behaviour, and copyright breaches." (AOP 216)

Annotated Bibliography
An annotated bibliography is made up of reference list entries which include a short summary of each work. These short descriptions are called annotations.

A critical or explanatory note added to a text. In an annotated bibliography, an annotation is a short summary of each work listed.

APA Style
A set of guidelines created by the American Psychological Association. These guidelines help writers, including academics and students, to format written work and citations in a consistent way. 

In APA Style, the author s the person(s) or the group responsible for creating the work. An author can be a single person, multiple people, a group such as an institution or a government agency, or a combination of individuals and groups.

Bias-Free Language
Bias-free language is language that is sensitive to and respectful of differences is people's sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, age, physical condition and many other categories.

Cite / Citing / Citation
Citing is the process of acknowledging the sources of information and ideas. This takes the form of a citation. Citations must include specific pieces of information and must follow a consistent format.

In APA Style, the date is the date of publication.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier)
DOIs, or digital object identifiers, are strings of letters and numbers that act as a persistent link to the source. The DOI is usually found on the first page of an article, and it starts with "DOI", "", or "". 

In-Text Citation
In-text citations appear in the body of a paper or other assignment. They briefly identify a work by author and date of publication. In-text citations also help the reader to find the full reference list entry in the reference list at the end of the paper. In-text citations must have corresponding reference list entries.

Narrative Citation
A narrative citation is a citation made up of the author's last name and the date of publication, and the name of the author appears in the sentence itself, rather than in parentheses. The author name is part of the meaning of the sentence.

Putting information from the source material into your own words. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage.

Parenthetical Citation
Parenthetical citations are made up of the author's last name and the date of publication in parentheses, or brackets, following the information being cited.

Taking, using, and passing off as your own, the ideas or words of another. Plagiarism can be intentional or accidental.

Quote / Quoting / Quotation
Copying "word for word" from a resource, including original spelling and punctuation. Direct quotations appear in quotation marks and end with a citation. 

A reference, sometimes called a citation, is a group of details about one specific resource, arranged in a consistent way. 

Reference List
A reference list appears at the end of an assignment or essay, and contains all of the references or citations for information resources used for that assignment or essay.

Reference List Entry
A reference list entry appears on the reference list at the end of a paper or other assignment. A reference list entry is made up of the author(s). the date of publication, the title, and the source.

In APA Style, the source is part of a reference list entry.. The source tells the reader where they can find the work being cited.

Summary / Summarize
Putting the main idea(s) of a resource into your own words, including only the main point(s). Summaries are significantly shorter than the original resource, and they provide a broad overview.

In a reference, "title" refers to the name of the work being cited.

Title Page
In APA Style, the title page is the first page of a paper or other assignment. It contains the title of the paper, the author's name, and the institutional affiliation. A student title page also includes the course number and name, instructor name, and assignment due date.

URLs are persistent links to information on the Internet. URLs can be found in the address bar of the web browser. 

Please Note!

This guide is based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed. (2020). Library staff have reviewed the information in this guide, and to the best of our knowledge, it is accurate. However, mistakes do occur. Students bear sole responsibility for ensuring that their citations are correct, and that their assignments meet the criteria laid out by their instructor. Students are encouraged to contact Peer Tutoring or the Writing Clinic for assistance.