Skip to Main Content

Referencing with APA: Referencing styles

Reference or citation styles

A reference and a citation are abbreviated ways of referring to one specific resource like a book, an article or an online resource. It consists of a combination of an in-text citation as well as its bibliographic equivalence in the reference list:

  • in-text citations usually consist of the author's name, year of publication and/or page number (e.g. Wilson, 2015, p. 55)
  • references in the reference list or bibliography include information on the author's name, publication title, date, publisher, journal title, or date of access depending on the type of publication.

There are various systems or styles that provide guidelines on how to format or order this information, including the use of italics, punctuation, abbreviations, and capitalization. Sometimes these styles stem from specific disciplines as with the American Psychological Association (APA), Harvard, or the Modern Language Association (MLA). 

On the Internet, you will find many practical resources on how to use the various citation styles like Cite This For Me (CTFM) Citation Guides.

At our university, two referencing styles are used: APA and Harvard. The Library offers two guides, one for APA and one for Harvard. This guide will only elaborate on APA style referencing. 


APA is a widely used style in the social and behavioural sciences. It has been and still is, developed by the American Psychological Association. It is characterized for example by in-text citations according to the author-date format, and page numbers when it involves a quotation. The reference list is ordered alphabetically by the last name of the first author.

Guidelines for this style have been published in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association that is available in our Library.

For practical information on how to organize your references in the APA way for the various types of resources please consult the following resources:

Additional information on the APA style: