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APA Referencing Guide

Based on the NWU Referencing Guide.


The guidelines set out in this guide is based on the APA Publication Manual, seventh edition, published in October 2019. It is recommended to use this guide in conjunction with the seventh edition of the APA Publication Manual for full details on APA publishing. 

The APA style is an author-date citation style. This implies that a short reference (author and date) is made in the text, with a corresponding entry in the alphabetical reference list, which provides more detail of the source being used. Each text reference must have a corresponding entry in the reference list, and each entry in the reference list must have a text reference.


Plagiarism is the reproduction of somebody else’s work or ideas, presenting it as your own without giving recognition to that person. This represents academic or intellectual theft. When you write a sentence in your academic report or writing, without a reference or quoting it in inverted commas, it implies that it is your own work or idea. However, if this is not the case, you have committed plagiarism – a very serious transgression in academic circles. Even when you translate a sentence or part of another author’s work, or if you describe it in your own words (paraphrase), you still have to give credit to that author through an in-text reference and entry in the reference list for that source.

Plagiarism can be prevented by using precise textual references and entries in your reference list. 

Academic report writing therefore requires that all consulted sources must be indicated in the text and that complete details must be given in the reference list.

Purpose of textual references and the reference list

  • It gives recognition to the original author whose ideas or facts have been used.
  • The author provides proof of the source of information used.
  • References to the sources prove the comprehensiveness of the research.
  • References to recognised sources lend authority to the author’s views.
  • References prove the origin of the author’s views.
  • The reference list can be used by the reader to verify the correct interpretation of and reference to a source.
  • The reference list serves as an additional source of information that can be consulted for more information on the subject.