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Academic Resource Center (ARC) Research & Writing Resources

Citations vs. References

Citations vs. References

Students often ask about the difference between a citation and a reference:

Citation:  an in-text note about the source of information you present in a paper.  Citations are in the text of the paper.

Reference:  information about how to find the articles, books, chapters, or online resources mentioned in the citations.                                        References are listed at the end of a paper on a separate page.

Important points to consider:

  • You must cite your sources both in the body of the paper AND in a reference list
  • In-text citations need only the author and the year of publication
  • Reference lists include specific information about where the source cited can be found
  • All citations and references must follow APA 7 prescribed format

 

Citation Format

Two Types: Parenthetical and Narrative
Parenthetical Narrative       

When the citation is not part of the sentence, the authors and the dates are cited in parentheses

Example: Research has demonstrated the effects of sensory deprivation on astronauts (Smith & Jones, 2002).

APA 7 change:  If citation has three or more authors, use the first author et al. each time you reference the article

Example: if the article is authored by Smith, Jones, James, & Freud (2020), the citation is:

 (Smith et al., 2020)

When citing multiple articles by different authors in a single sentence, list the authors alphabetically by first author and use a semicolon (;) between the two articles.

Example:

Research has demonstrated the effects of sensory deprivation on astronauts (Baker & Taylor, 2010; Smith & Jones, 2002).

When a citation is part of a sentence, the author's names are not placed in parentheses, but the date of the publication is. You also use "and" rather than the ampersand (&).

 

Example: 

Smith and Jones (2002) investigated the effects of sensory deprivation on astronauts.They explained the importance of giving individuals a sense of space.

 

APA 7 change:  If citation has three or more authors, use the first author et al. each time you reference the article

Example: 

if the article is authored by Smith, Jones, James, & Freud (2020), the citation is:

 Smith et al. (2020) discovered that technology could help increase access to mental health services to more people.

Author type Parenthetical Citation Narrative Citation
One author (Hammond, 2014) Hammond (2014)
Two authors (French & Singer, 2019) French and Singer (2019)
Three or more authors (Caruso et al. 2021) Caruso et al. (2021)

Group author w/ abbreviation

          First Citation

         Subsequent Citation

 

(National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2020)

(NIMH,2020) 

 

National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH] (2020)

NIMH (2020)

Group author-No Abbreviation (Harvard University, 2018) Harvard Universoty (2018)

 

Websites
If the author is KNOWN:

If there is NO author:

If there is no individual author,

then use the name of the organization

Example:

(Reca, 2017)

Example:

(UNICEF, 2017)

Corporate or Government

If there is no individual author,  name the government agency or corporation

Example

Rand Corporation (2014)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, 2017) (first cite)

(SAMSHA. 2017) (subsequent cites)

Lectures & PowerPoints

To cite a PowerPoint presentation or a lecture from a class, cite in the text and use the authors first initial and last name, but not in the reference list since this is considered a personal communication which a reader would not be able to access) .  

Example:

(J. Axelrod, personal communication, May 8, 2017)

 

If the presentation is from a conference or an online source, you cite in text and in the reference list:

Example 

(Kramer, 2017)