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APA (7th ed.) Citing Guide: Why Cite & What is APA

APA 7th Edition

This guide is representative of the 7th edition Publication Manual of APA and focuses on a student paper structure.

APA examples are not exhaustive and focus on referencing and citations. Assistance from your professor and/or Writing Centre is suggested for clarification.

Users are responsible for interpretation of APA style guidelines and to seek further assistance when necessary.

Effective September 2020.

Why Cite?

You must cite sources in your writing whenever you include any sort of information, data, ideas or words that are not your own. This includes when you are writing an essay, report, paper, case study OR preparing a visual assignment such as a poster, infographic, brochure or presentation. Citing your sources is an expectation for post-secondary level writing and research. This is one element of academic integrity

You need to cite to ensure....

  • You give credit to the original authors/sources of information and avoid academic misconduct
  • Your readers can quickly access your original sources
  • You add credibility to your assignments and help prove your arguments

Different citation styles are used in different subject areas and professions.

Be sure to check with your professor on what method to use. 

APA Workshop Materials

What is APA?

This video will explain APA and why it is used to reference information in assignments.

What is APA?
View What is APA? on Youtube


What is APA?

“What is APA?” is a common question asked by many students who are beginning post-secondary education, or for those new to academic writing. APA stands for the American Psychological Association. This association outlines standards for the style and format of an academic paper and essay, and provides guidelines regarding punctuation, spelling, abbreviations, lists, and so on. It also provides guidelines and a format for giving credit to the sources of information being used in your assignments, and these take the form of references and in-text citations.

There are two APA manuals for the 7th edition. One is the full publication manual and the other is the Concise Guide to APA Style, which primarily contains APA information that is relevant to students. The full manual includes rules for both professional and student papers. For this reason, Georgian College recommends using the full publication manual rather than the concise version. Either way, you should be following the rules for students.

“Why do we reference?” is another common question. A very important reason to reference and cite your sources is to uphold academic integrity and avoid plagiarizing the work of others. Plagiarism is the act of representing the words or ideas of another person as your own. For instance, if you copy information off a website and place it in your essay, and do not give credit to the author of this information, then you have plagiarized the work of the original author.

Plagiarism is considered a form of academic misconduct and may result in a penalty. To avoid plagiarism, all sources of information you use when writing an assignment must be given credit in the form of an in-text citation, which appears in the text of your paper directly beside the information taken from the source, and a corresponding reference on the reference page.

There are many resources to help you learn about APA.  For more APA help, contact the Writing Centre and visit the Georgian College APA Guide and the APA website.

Citations & Citing your work

Source: © Common Craft, 2018.


If you think about it, much of the information that goes into a paper or article can be organized into three groups: “common knowledge” “my ideas”, and “other people’s ideas”. By understanding these groups, we can see why citations matter in our work. 

Let’s start with common knowledge, which consists of well established and reliable facts. For example, George Washington being the first US president is an established fact found in a variety of reliable sources. A year having 365 days is also considered common knowledge.

Next, let’s consider “my ideas”. This group consists of your personal thoughts, opinions, conclusions, and analysis of your topic. If you are conducting your own original research, it would also fall into this category.

And finally, there are other people’s ideas - and these deserve special care. When we research a topic, we’re likely to find and borrow helpful information and discoveries that came from the work of specific individuals or organizations whose work was published in reputable books, journals, articles and websites. 
“Other people’s ideas” also include quotes from other writing that support or debate points that you’re making. A paper or project may include all three types of information.

While common knowledge and your ideas don’t usually need special treatment, when other people’s ideas are included in your paper, readers do need to know. This can be done with citations. Using citations shows you’re responsible. You’ve done the research, given credit to the right people, provided the reader with resources for more learning and avoided plagiarism.

A citation consists of two parts that work together. These are the in-text citation and full citations. Here’s how they work…

When you use someone else’s ideas, the reader needs to know, but adding the required information into the middle of your paper would be annoying and hard to read.

So, we need a quick way to indicate when a section is based on someone else's ideas. This is done with an in-text citation. It’s a brief notification within the body of the text that specific words, ideas, figures, or images were taken from other sources. These point the reader to the second part of a citation--the full citation--which can be found either at end of the paper or at the bottom of the page. This way, the text remains readable and it’s clear when you use other people's’ ideas.

Often, full citations have all the information needed to find the original publication. These include author names, titles of books or journals, publishers, publication dates, page numbers and more.

Let’s look at two common ways to cite your sources in a paper:
 Imagine that you use an idea from a book in your paper and need to cite it.

An in-text citation could might include the author’s last name and year published, author’s last name and page number, or simply a number. These connect the reader to the full citation, which may be in a bibliography at the end of the paper, or in a footnote at the bottom of the page.

Using citations is part of being a responsible student and researcher, but it’s also a service to others. They acknowledge the people whose work helped establish what is known about the world and provides a way for your readers to dive even deeper into your subject.

The APA Manual

The APA Manual

Web Resources

Web Resources

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