Using APA 7

A short guide to writing in-text citations and a reference list using the APA 7th edition.

What is APA 7?

The American Psychological Association (APA) 7th edition is an author‐date system of citation and referencing used in many Faculties and Schools across the University of Melbourne.

As accurate and consistent referencing is a fundamental requirement of academic writing, it's important that you insert a citation each time you refer to information from another source to show that you are drawing on ideas that are not your own.

The two elements to the APA system are:

  1. In-text citations
  2. Reference list

In-text citations

“Direct quotations”

A direct quotation cites information directly, exactly as it is in the original source.

You indicate it is a direct quote by using double quotation marks (“...”)

For example:

The framework document states that the policy is, “clear and unmistakable in providing direction to education professionals” (Jones & Willis, 2004, p. 4).

When you include a direct quote, you need to provide the author(s) family name(s), year of publication and, because this is a direct quote, the page number. Note that the full stop is the last piece of punctuation – the citation information is always inside the sentence.

When and how should I use direct quotes?

Try to use direct quotes sparingly in your assignments. We suggest only including a direct quote when an author has expressed their ideas with original or unique phrasing, and when the point made in their writing is so clear that you cannot paraphrase it in a better way; or when the original wording has a strong effect on the reader.

Keep in mind that direct quotes do not need to be full sentences from the original work. If there are words or phrases that are particularly impactful, directly quote these and synthesise them into your assessment together with your own words.

Lastly, always comment on a direct quote – don't insert it and leave it, this is called a floating quote.

For example:

The framework document states that the policy is, “clear and unmistakable in providing direction to education professionals” (Jones & Willis, 2004, p. 4). This suggests that the Department recognised the need for such direction.

Indirect quotations - paraphrasing

Try to paraphrase ideas from other sources in your own words. It’s important that your wording captures the meaning of the original text, and that you accurately cite the source of the ideas, as they are not your own.

For example:

This is clear intent in regard to the policy providing educators with direction (Jones & Willis, 2004).

Paraphrasing takes practice and as you become skilled in academic writing you can synthesise (bring together) related information and ideas from multiple sources into your paraphrases. Remember that you need to reframe the information carefully so that you are accurately representing the original authors’ ideas.

Author or idea or prominent citations

There are two common ways of presenting cited information; one focuses on the author(s) of the text, the other on the ideas expressed in the text.

Author prominent citation – focus on authors.

Refer to the author(s) in the text of the sentence. Note that the author prominent citation is grammatically part of the sentence and always requires a verb.

Berk (2009) asserts that wellbeing is the most important factor in this context.

Idea prominent citation – focus on ideas.

Refer to author(s) in brackets.

One of the benefits of CLIL is that it complements rather than competes with other subjects (European Commission, 2010).

When should I use author or idea prominent citations?

Author prominent citations are useful when you want to present author(s) opinions; focus on who the idea comes from; or when you are writing a literature review.

Idea prominent citations are useful when presenting factual information or when focusing on what is being said rather than who wrote it.

You can use either author or idea prominent citations when quoting directly or paraphrasing.

Changes to in-text citations from APA 6th

The first time you cite a text with three or more authors, only list the family name of the first author followed by “et al.”.

For example: (Smith et al., 2020) or Smith et al. (2020) argue that...

Note that et al. always has a full stop after al.

Traditional Knowledge and Oral Traditions of Indigenous Peoples require citation. There are different guidelines for recorded and unrecorded information.

Reference List

The Reference List is found at the end of your assignment on a separate page(s) by itself, and lists of all the works you have cited in your paper.

You need to provide the full publication details of each source you cited; this allows your reader to locate the source if needed.

The sources are presented alphabetically by author(s) family names in the order they appear in the publication. Sometimes publications are authored by corporate or government organisations, in these instances you need to list the name of the organisation as the author. E.g. Department of Education and Training.

Changes to Reference List from APA 6th

You don't need the location of the publisher when referencing books.

DOI is presented as a hyperlinked URL. You no longer need to include the label “DOI”.

For a website, the URL “Retrieved from:” is no longer needed. Just insert the short hyperlink of the URL.

Texts with up to 20 authors require all names to be included in the reference entry.

If there are more than 20 authors, include the names of the first 19 authors, insert ellipses (…), then include the name of the last author.

You don't need to indicate the type of e-book (e.g. PDF).

Final tip

These tips will get you started and help you know how to incorporate APA 7th citations into your assignments. While citing works in text is a writing skill, creating a Reference List a technical skill, so make sure to explore Re:cite for information about the technical requirements of APA.

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