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PLA 3003: Prior Learning Practices: Writing and Citing

Citation Guides

Avoid plagiarism. Cite your sources.

Plagiarism occurs when you steal someone else's ideas in order to pass them off as your own or when you use another's work without crediting the source.

Citations identify the sources you have quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise used within your work. Citing your sources allows you to give credit to those whose ideas you have used and allows others to follow-up with and verify those ideas.

There are various citation styles. However, the most common ones are MLA, APA, Chicago, CSE, and AMA. For more detailed information on citing your sources, look at these style guides:

For print copies of these manuals, check the Library Catalog.

Citation Management Tool

Zotero is free citation manager based in your web browser that makes it easy and efficient to keep track of citations and other sources you’ll use for your research. It saves and formats citations, creating bibliographies in the style of your choosing including APA. It works in both Firefox and Chrome.

APA Examples (6th Ed.)

The basic APA format for a print book is:

Author, Initial. Initial. (Year). Title. Location: Publisher.

Watters, E. (2010). Crazy like us: The globalization of the American psyche. New York: Free Press.

For e-books, follow a similar pattern, but list information about where you accessed the book instead of publication information:

Fromm, G. F. (Ed.). (2011). Lost in transmission: Studies of trauma across generations. Retrieved from

The basic APA format for citing an article is:

Author, Initial. Initial. (Year). Title of articleJournal Title, volume number(issue number), pages. doi:________.

Example: an article with one author:

Bolger, N. (1990). Coping as a personality process: A prospective study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59(3), 525-537. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.59.3.525

An article with more than one author:

Duckworth, A. L., Quinn, P. D., & Tsukayama, E. (2012). What No Child Left Behind leaves behind: The roles of IQ and self-control in predicting standardized achievement test scores and report card grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(2), 439-451. doi:10.1037/a0026280

An article with more than seven authors (this one was written by nine people):

Javaras, K. N., Schaefer, S. M., van Reekum, C. M., Lapate, R. C., Greichar, L. L., Bachhuber, D. R., ... Davidson, R. J. (2012). Conscientiousness predicts greater recovery from negative emotion. Emotion, 12(5), 875-881. doi:10.1037/a0028105

An article where the database doesn't provide a DOI:

Larsen, J. M. (1975). Effects of increased teacher support on young children's learning. Child Development, 46(3), 631-637. Retrieved from

(In this example, I'm citing JSTOR rather than the journal's actual homepage because the journal's homepage only includes articles from 1990 onward and this article was published in 1975. If I really wanted to go the extra mile, I could look up the article in CrossRef and find out that it actually does have a DOI assigned.)

A few things to note:

  • Title of article should be written out like a sentence - don't capitalize anything except the first word of the title, the first word after a colon, or proper nouns.
  • Words in the journal title do get capitalized.
  • Include up to seven authors. If an article has eight or more authors, list the first six and then use an ellipsis to jump to the last one.
  • Volume and issue number should be listed like this: if you're citing volume 9, issue 6, say 9(6) (without a space between them).
  • DOI may not always be available. If you're reading an article in a database like PsycARTICLES, one may be listed as "Digital Object Identifier." But if you read the article online (e.g. through a database) and no DOI is available, instead provide a URL for the journal homepage (see example below). If you can't find a homepage for the journal, the style recommends that you give the homepage URL for the database where you read it (e.g.
  • You don't need to cite the date when you accessed the article.


To cite a book chapter, follow this basic format:

Author, Initial. Initial. (Year). Title of chapter. In Editors of book (Eds.), Book title (pages of chapter). Location: Publisher.

Pastel R. H., Ritchie E. C. (1996). Mitigation of psychological effects of weapons of mass destruction. In: Ritchie E. L., Watson P. J., Friedman M. J. (Eds.), Interventions following mass violence and disasters: strategies for mental health practice (pp. 300-318). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

For websites, APA recommends providing as many as possible of the same elements (author, title, etc.) that you'd provide for a print source.

You should also include as much information as necessary for someone else to find the source (usually the URL).

For example:

Zook, M. (2012). Mapping racist tweets in response to President Obama's re-election [Web log post.] Retrieved from

A movie:

Lastname, Initial. Initial. (Producer), & Lastname, Initial. Initial. (Director). (Year). Title [Motion picture]. Country of origin: Studio.

Beatty, W. (Producer), & Penn, A. (Director). 1967. Bonnie and Clyde [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros.

A YouTube video:

The basic format to follow is: Lastname, Initial. Initial. (Date of video). Title of video. Retrieved from [URL]

If author information isn't available, start with the title instead.

An interview, email or other personal communication:

This is a special case! If you're citing an interview that you conducted yourself (for example, with a test subject), or an email from someone to you, don't put it in your reference list. Instead, use an in-text citation with the format (personal communication, date).

Example: "As A. B. Jones informed me, the web site's navigation posed significant usability problems (personal communication, May 12, 2013)."

If you're citing an interview by someone else, you can cite it following this basic format:

Knox, A. (2013, April 30). Interview by D. Sawyer [Television broadcast]. New York: ABC News. Retrieved from

The basic format for a shorter quotation is:

(author or authors, year, pages)

For example:

Causes of insomnia include "a history of stress, recent grief, or mental disorders such as anxiety or depression" (Kahn & Fawcett, 2008, p. 252).

Kahn and Fawcett (2008) note that causes of insomnia include "a history of stress, recent grief, or mental disorders such as anxiety or depression" (p. 252).

APA Style Guide