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APA Referencing: Overview


Referencing is the process of citing material you have used in your academic writing. There are many different referencing styles. Whitireia/WelTec uses APA Referencing (7th edition) which is the referencing style created by the American Psychological Association.

What is APA Referencing?

APA uses an author-date citation method. There are two parts to a reference.

  • In-text citation. When you quote or paraphrase / summarise an author, you must acknowledge their work in the text of your assignment. This is brief information that consists of the author's surname (or the name of the group author) and the year of publication
  • Reference list. The in-text citation directs your reader to an alphabetical list of the sources you have used.  It is at the end of your assignment and contains the full details of each source 

Why do you reference?

There are many reasons why you reference:

  • It shows you have used relevant sources written by experts whose qualified opinion is based on research.  This demonstrates your ability to research widely and thoroughly
  • It is important that you are an honest and responsible scholar and acknowledge the hardwork of authors when you use their ideas or research
  • You must give your reader the ability to find original sources in case they wish to use them themselves. This is made easier when you use a standardised form of referencing
  • It allows your reader to check the quotes you have used and make sure they are up to date, reliable and a true account of the original research or study. It shows that you have not made it up, changed the meaning or misunderstood the information
  • It shows you have provided evidence that backs up your argument. It demonstrates your ability to sift through and read a variety of information, make sense of it, then link it to your writing
  • Referencing information correctly protects you from allegations of plagiarism


Plagiarism is when you use someone else's ideas and / or words and claim them as your own. It is a serious offence.

Examples of plagiarism:

  • Copying or rewriting someone's words or ideas without giving credit to the original author
  • Passing someone else's words and ideas off as your own work
  • Buying or downloading an assignment
  • Borrowing or copying someone else's assignment 
  • Reusing information you wrote in one assignment in another assignment.  This is called self plagiarism and gives the impression that work you have previously submitted is new and original. This is considered unethical and breaches academic integrity
  • Working in a group and copying someone else's ideas or work. Working together as a group and discussing a topic is permissible, but you must submit work that is 100% your own
  • Not recording where you got informaton from so you reference incorrectly or not at all

Keeping a record

Remember to include these elements when keeping a record of information you have used:

  • Who wrote it (Author)
  • When was it published (Date)
  • What is it called (Title)
  • Where can it be retrieved from (Source such as the name of the publisher or website etc)

Common knowledge vs Referencing

Common knowledge

This is reliable information that is widely known by most people.  It could be knowledge shared by people in a particular country, academic field etc. What is common knowledge to some is not to others. If you did not know the information before you started your paper or are in doubt, reference it.

What needs to be referenced?

All material you use in your assignment that comes from someone else. This includes:

  • Direct quotes, paraphrasing, summarising
  • Theories and ideas
  • Research
  • Tables. images, figures, charts, statistics
  • Anything that involves interpretation of facts and figures

Want more help?

Useful links

Whitireia/WelTec Learning Support Guides

Assignment Writing - Covers plagiarism, paraphrasing

Tūāpapa Online Study Hub Modules. To access go to Moodle:

Click here if you are a Whitireia student. 

Click here if you are a Weltec student. 

  • Log in if prompted
  • Click Academic Communication, then Introduction to APA and Plagiarism & Academic Integrity

Referencing Tools 

APA Interactive, Massey University

APA Style Blog

Referencite, University of Auckland

Referencing software




Avoiding plagiarism guide 

Hill, D. J. (2015). A beginners' guide to plagiarism: What is plagiarism and how can you avoid it? Ako Aotearoa.

Books available in the Library