Skip to Main Content

InfoSkills4: Referencing

How to cite - In-text citations

Whenever you use information that came from someone else (i.e. you didn't invent it yourself) you "flag" it in the sentence where you used it.

This is something that looks different, depending on the style you use.  For styles like APA and Harvard (Author-date styles) you put the author(s) surname(s) and the year in which it was published

For example, APA looks like this:

Coral reefs can add billions of dollars to a country's economy (Barker & Roberts, 2004).


Barker and Roberts (2004) point out that coral reefs can add billions of dollars to a country's economy.


For a style like AMA or the AGLC (Documentary Note styles) you only put a number in the text:

Coral reefs can add billions of dollars to a country's economy.1


Barker and Roberts point out that coral reefs can add billions of dollars to a country's economy.1


The person reading your assignment then goes to your reference list to find the rest of the information.  If you had used the APA version, they would look for the entry written by Barker and Roberts in 2004.  If you had used the Vancouver style, they would look for number 1.

You can find some more examples of this in the Referencing Styles section.

In-text citations

Every in-text citation refers to a full reference in the reference list which you put on a separate page at the end of your assignment.

APA style reference lists go in alphabetical order.

APA in-text citations

Every in-text citation refers to a full reference in the reference list, which you put at the end of your assignment.

AMA Vancouver style reference lists go in the same order that they appear in your assignment.

GIF illustrates that the in-text citations are numberd in the order that they appear, and the reference list puts them in order according to the number they have in text

You wouldn't use highlighting like this when you write your references for real.

Image has several styles lined up next to each other, showing the in-text citation and the reference list entry side-by-side

Reference list vs Bibliogrpahy

A reference list only includes resources (books, articles, web content etc.) that you have specifically referred to in your assignment.  Everything that you refer to in your assignment must appear in the reference list. If you haven't specifically referred to it in your assignment then it doesn't go in the reference list.

A bibliography includes resources that you haven't specifically referred to in your assignment such as background reading and other things that you think are relevant.

Most of the time you will be creating a reference list. Always assume your lecturer wants a reference list unless they have specifically asked for a bibliography. Details of what is required for your assignments will be in your subject outline in LearnJCU.

Reference list entries

The reference list entry contains more information than the in-text citation:

  • Authors’ and/or editors' names
  • Date
  • Title of the part (e.g., journal article, book chapter, web page)
  • Title of the whole (e.g., journal, book, web site)
  • Publication details
    • For a book or part of a book give the name of the publisher
    • For a journal article give the volume number, issue number and page numbers
  • URL or DOI (if electronic)

What goes in an APA 7th reference list entry?

Quoting, summarising and paraphrasing

Quoting is when you have used the exact words from your source. You should always put the words that come exactly (word for word) in "quotation marks", and an in-text citation in the correct format for your referencing style.

It is always a good idea to keep direct quotes to a minimum. Quoting doesn't showcase your writing ability - all it shows is that you can read (plus, lecturers hate reading assignments with a lot of quotes).

You should only use direct quotes if the exact wording is important, otherwise it is better to paraphrase.

If you feel a direct quote is appropriate, try to keep only the most important part of the quote and avoid letting it take up the entire sentence - always start or end the sentence with your own words to tie the quote back into your assignment. Long quotes (more than 40 words) are called "block quotes" and are rarely used in most subject areas (they mostly belong in Literature, History or similar subjects). Each referencing style has rules for setting out a block quote. Check with your style guide.

It has been observed that "pink fairy armadillos seem to be extremely susceptible to stress" (Superina, 2011, p. 6).

NB! Most referencing styles will require a page number to tell readers where to find the original quote.

Summarising is when you take a large amount of text (for example, several paragraphs or a whole document) and "boil it down" to the most important facts or the essence of the argument. You then give this "in a nutshell" version in your own words.

It is a type of paraphrasing, and you will be using this frequently in your assignments, but note that summarising another person's work or argument isn't showing how you make connections or understand implications. This is preferred to quoting, but where possible try to go beyond simply summarising another person's information without "adding value".

And, remember, the words must be your own words. If you use the exact wording from the original at any time, those words must be treated as a direct quote.

All information must be cited, even if it is in your own words.

Superina (2011) observed a captive pink fairy armadillo, and noticed any variation in its environment could cause great stress.

NB! Some lecturers and citation styles want page numbers for everything you cite, others only want page numbers for direct quotes. Check with your lecturer.

Paraphrasing is when you take the core idea from the original text, and rewrite it completely in your own words (and "voice").

Paraphrasing often involves commenting about the information at the same time, and this is where you can really show your understanding of the topic. You should try to do this within every paragraph in the body of your assignment.

When paraphrasing, it is important to remember that using a thesaurus to change every other word isn't really paraphrasing. It's patchwriting, and it's a kind of plagiarism (as you are not creating original work).

Use your own voice! You sound like you when you write - you have a distinctive style that is all your own, and when your "tone" suddenly changes for a section of your assignment, it looks highly suspicious. Your lecturer starts to wonder if you really wrote that part yourself. Make sure you have genuinely thought about how *you* would write this information, and that the paraphrasing really is in your own words.

Always cite your sources! Even if you have drawn from three different papers to write this one sentence, which is completely in your own words, you still have to cite your sources for that sentence (oh, and excellent work, by the way).

Captive pink fairy armadillos do not respond well to changes in their environment and can be easily stressed (Superina, 2011).

NB! Some lecturers and citation styles want page numbers for all citations, others only want them for direct quotes. Check with your lecturer.

Interactive tutorials

The three biggest referencing styles at JCU (in terms of the number of students using them) are APA, Harvard and AMA.

Click across the tabs in this box to see quick introductory tutorials for these styles

Toolkit Home | Defining Your Topic | Searching for Resources | Evaluating Resources | Referencing

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country

Creative Commons Licence
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International License. Content from this Guide should be attributed to James Cook University Library. This does not apply to images, third party material (seek permission from the original owner) or any logos or insignia belonging to JCU or other bodies, which remain All Rights Reserved.