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PHIL 385: Engineering Ethics

Citing sources -- APA

[citation needed]

Dan4th Nicholas. (2010, Oct. 30). Citation Needed. Retrieved from Used under the Creative Commons License.

Whenever you write a paper, you draw from existing sources of information.  It is important to acknowledge those sources when you write your own paper.  But how exactly do you write an acknowledgement of a source you incorporated into your paper?  What does a source citation look like?

The 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association -- commonly referred to as the APA guide or the APA style guide -- offers a comprehensive presentation of the guidelines used by the APA to acknowledge these cited sources.  (And yes, the APA style is used by many different disciplines, not just psychology).

Furthermore, chapters 8 through 10 of the Manual offer sample citations, which illustrate example variations on different types of citation.  That said, the 7th edition makes explicit a particularly salient guideline that was (at best) only hinted at in previous editions -- that it is entirely appropriate to apply general principles described through the citation style to individual sources where the form of how the source should be cited is not clear or obvious.  More specifically, this edition presents templates describing how to formulate certain broad categories of citation -- book, book chapter, journal article, etc.  In their words,

If you do not see an example that matches the work you want to cite, use the template for the applicable reference category as a starting point for writing the reference list entry.  Then select the appropriate option from each column.  Mix and match elements within a template; it is not necessary to use multiple templates (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, p. 314). 

Despite the statement that "it is not necessary to use multiple templates," the guidance of applying general principles would seem to transcend the APA's templates.  For example, section 10.12 of the Manual, which covers audiovisual works, does not include an example of an audiovisual work produced by a corporate entity.  It would seem logical to apply the corporate authorship guidelines from sections 10.1 and 10.3 to such a citation.

With this principle in mind, the following guide can help you write citations in the APA style.  It is, however, no substitute for the guide itself, which is the ultimate authority on the style, and offers more example citations than are listed here.  This guide merely summarizes the most common forms of APA citation, and uses them to illustrate the general principles of the style, which the APA itself says are intended to be adapted to individual sources.


Publication Manual website

Publication Manual blog

More Help

This guide lists links to information about the major style guides currently in use at Wichita State University.  Use the table below to find information about how to cite references in your papers, about  common grammar questions, and to software that helps manage your references when writing your paper. 

Wichita State Students also have access to EndNote and EndNote Web, citation management systems provided by the University. Check out the library guides listed below for more information about citation managment systems.

You might also find the WSU ITS Applications Training blog helpful. Checkout this entry about creating in-text citations in MS word.

These are sites that will help you "build" citations. They're pretty accurate, but be sure to cover your bases by comparing the citations against those in a style manual. Just choose MLA or APA and the type of source you need to create a citation for (a book, a journal article, etc.), and input all of the necessary information.

Ask a librarian if you need additional assistance. 

APA, MLA and most other citations styles require the citation list to be formatted like this:

  1. The first line of the citation begins on the left margin.
  2. The second line and all subsequent lines are indented one TAB or 5 spaces (called a hanging indent).
  3. Use double spacing throughout the bibliography page. Do not use extra lines or wider spaces in between entries.
  4. All citations are presented in alphabetical order by the first word in the entry.

To correctly format a list of citations in Microsoft Word, highlight the entire list, then go to the Paragraph tool.

  1. Make sure Alignment is set to "left" and Outline Level is set to "body."
  2. Make sure the left and right Indentation is set to "0."
  3. Under Special, change the indentation to "hanging" by 0.5" (inches).
  4. Under Spacing make sure "before" and "after" are set to "0 pt."
  5. Change Line Spacing to "double."

Altering the citation list this way is not necessary if you are importing citations from a citation manager like Endnote or Zotero.

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