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APA Style Guide: Introduction

This guide explains how to use the APA Style. It includes a short tutorial.

APA Style - what is it?

Academic writing requires the author to support their arguments with reference to other published work or experimental results/findings. A reference system will perform three essential tasks:

  • Enable you to acknowledge other authors ideas and thereby avoid plagiarism.
  • Enable a reader to quickly locate the source of the material you refer to so they can consult it if they wish.
  • Indicate to the reader the scope and depth of your research.

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is a widely used referencing system to help you achieve these objectives.

How do I use the APA Referencing Style?

The APA style involves two tasks:

  • how you refer to other authors in the body of your text (in-text citation).
  • how you compile a list of reference sources at the end of your text (reference list)

In this guide we show how common reference types should look in your reference list along with an example. Immediately following this will be two samples of how that reference should appear as an in-text citation.

If the exact reference type you are looking for is not shown in this guide, look for one similar and follow the same rules. Alternatively consult the book “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association", 7th Edition, which is available in UCD Library.

Note: This guide was updated to reflect the new, 7th Edition APA Style Guide in December, 2020. If you are unsure of which version to choose, check with your module coordinator and show him/her this website.

APA Style - what does it look like?

Here is an extract showing what In-text Citations look like in the APA Style

It has been claimed that due to funding being almost exclusively available from the Irish Film Board, Irish film makers are restricted to the type of Ireland they can depict in their work (MacDougall, 2009). Jervir (2011) argues that subjects such as Northern Ireland are disproportionately represented as these are key areas of interest to the board.


Here is an example of what a Reference List looks like in the APA Style

APA Style - Quotation

The APA Style advises that when using another's exact words, known as direct quotation, then those words must be placed in double inverted commas/quotation marks (e.g. ""), followed by an in-text citation that includes the Author Last name, Year and Page numbers. A full reference should then appear in your reference list.

If unsure, always check with your lecturer or tutor.

Short quotations - less than 40 words

Short quotations are held to be less than 40 words in the APA Style. An example of a short direct quotation would be

The findings suggest children have a "high level of enjoyment" (Fitzgerald et al., 2008, p. 66), while exercising with the system as indicated by the positive responses to all three questions.

Long quotations - 40 words or more

Long quotations in the APA Style are held to have 40 words or more. These are laid out in a separate paragraph of text and indented about half an inch from the left margin. No inverted commas/quotation marks are included. An example of a long quotation would be

In their research on rehabilitation using Wobbleballs, Fitzgerald and her team conclude that:

The fourth question collected some feedback from children and while most provided positive comments a small number of children (n=13) mentioned that the wobble board was “difficult to control” or “hard to use”. We must therefore investigate some easier methods to control the game as an option for some children. Future research is needed to investigate the benefits of the system as an exercise intervention for children and to examine how training using Wobbleball could be integrated into the existing physical education curriculum in schools. (Fitzgerald et al., 2008, p. 66)

APA Style 7th Edition - printable version

APA Style Guide

Download the printed APA Style Guide, 7th Edition (updated December 2020)

Recommended read

APA Tutorial

Don't know a citation from a reference? Try our short tutorial.

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