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Making References In Essays

Term Paper: Format of Citations and References

1. Introduction

As you write your term papers, it will be important for you to document where you obtained the information cited in your report. Many of the references you use will come from published sources. Some may come from electronic sources such as the World Wide Web, Melvyl and Harvest databases available through the UC Davis library, CD references and the like, and some may come from interviews. An important component of your writing will be the effective use of reference material. This skill will serve you well in writing papers of all types, not just those required for classes.

For this class, we will be using the documentation style of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2001) modified with italics substituted for underlining. This format is very similar to that of the Modern Language Association, and these are the most commonly used styles for publishing in the social and natural sciences. The general form of citations in the body of the text is to include the author and date in parentheses (as above) and optionally include the page number(s) after the date. If the author's name was just mentioned in the text, it is not necessary to repeat it in the citation. The rules are described in more detail, with examples, in section 3.

2. Basic Guidelines

The purpose of the term paper in ECS 15 is for you to learn how to do effective research on a subject and then write it up clearly, showing where you got your information.

A research paper requires searching for information pertinent to a given subject, organizing it, and presenting it effectively in written form. Oral research reports are also useful, but this course does not cover them.

In the following sections, we will present the way that we want you to cite your references in the term paper for this course. The required format meets the accepted practices cited in Li and Crane (1993), a reference that is currently considered the best authority on citing electronic sources. This book in turn follows the basic format for the American Psychological Association (APA, 2001), which is a good format (though by no means the only acceptable one in technical publications). You may be required to use slightly different formats for other papers, such as papers submitted for publication to refereed journals, each of which typically have their own styles. Learning how to follow one such set of rules is a worthwhile exercise. You will therefore be expected to use the format set out below.

3. In-text Citation to References

When citing a reference from your reference list, please use the following conventions. Put in parentheses the author(s) last names, the year, and optionally the page number(s) separated by commas.

For one author, use the author's last name and year separated by a comma. For example: (Walters, 1994) or (Austin, 1996).

For two to five authors, use their last names separated by commas and with an ampersand "&" before the very last name in the list, then the year separated by a comma. For example: (Li & Crane, 1993) (Charniak, Riesbeck, McDermott & Meehan, 1994).

For more than five authors, use the first author's last name and "et al." For example: (Walters, et al., 1992).

For the date, use the year. If there are two references by the same author(s) for the same year, use letters after the year: (Walters, 1993b).

If there are specific page numbers for a citation, add them after the year (Walters, 1994, pp. 31-49).

If you include the author's name(s) in the text of a sentence in the paper, you may omit their names from the parentheses as follows: "Austin (1996) includes valuable references to ...." or "The examples given by Li and Crane (1993) on web addresses ...".

Do not use footnotes in this class for citations. You can use them for explanatory text, but not for references. Have the citation make it easy to find the reference in the "References" section. All references in that section should be complete enough for readers to obtain a copy for themselves.

4. Your List of References

Create a list of references, one for each item cited in the paper, in a section called "References". This section goes at the end of your paper. The references are to be alphabetized by the fist author's last name, or (if no author is listed) the organization or title. If you cite more than one paper by the same first author, sort them by year of publication, earliest year first. Do not use footnotes for citations.

Single-space the entries in your list of references. Start at the left margin for the first line of each bibliography entry. Each additional line of each entry should be indented a reasonable amount. Separate the entries with a blank line. Do not number the references. Doing so means you have to renumber all the references whenever you insert a new reference.

4.1. Author, Date, and Title

The general format for the author, title, and date in your reference list is as follows:

    Author. (date). Title. [the full reference, which follows, is discussed below]

The following explains these fields.


First author's last name, followed by the initials. If there are two authors, separate their names with "and". For three or more authors, separate all but the last author's name with commas, and use "and" before the last author's name in the list. If published by an agency with no author given, list the name of the agency. End with a period. For example:

    Walters, R.F.

    Walters, R.F. and Reed, N.E.

    Walters, R.F., Bharat, S. R. and Austin, A.A.

    Charniak, E., Riesbeck, C., McDermott, D. and Meehan, J.

    National Bureau of Standards.


Enclose the date in parentheses. Use a date sufficiently specific for the item. For example, give the year of publication for a book, the year and month of publication for a monthly magazine or journal, and the year, month, and day for a newspaper or daily periodical. End with a period. For example:


    (1992, October).

    (1995, August 30).


If the title is that of an article, use the regular font; if it is the title of a book, italicize it. Capitalize only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns. If there is a subtitle, it too should begin with a capital letter. End with a period. For example, an article's title would look like:

    Computer-based systems integration.

and a book's title would look like:

    The abc's of MUMPS: An introduction for novice and intermediate programmers.

4.2. Journals, Magazines, and Newspapers

The following apply to citing the name and identifying information for journals, magazines, newspapers, and periodicals in general.


When citing the name of a journal, magazine or newspaper, write the name in italics, with all words capitalized except for articles, prepositions and conjunctions.

Volume, number, and page numbers

Give the volume number in italics, followed by the issue number in parentheses (if there is an issue number), and the page number(s). For magazines, precede page numbers with "p." (if the article is on a single page) or "pp." (if the article is on multiple pages). For example:

    Communications of the ACM, 27(2), 141-195.

    Journal of Advertising Research, 32, 47-55.

    Time, 146, pp. 42-44.

Publisher and Location

Give the city and state (if in the United States), followed by a colon and the publisher name, followed by a period. For example:

    Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall.

    London: Edward Arnold

4.3. Interviews

If you choose to include any personal interviews, reference them with the person's name, their professional title and employer, and the date, time, and place of the interview. For example:

    Albert Einstein (1935, January 5), Professor of Theoretical Physics, Princeton University, 3:00pm, Princeton, NJ.

4.4. References Found in Electronic Form

Many resource materials are available through Melvyl and Harvest, which are the electronic access points for the UC Davis library. More are on CDROM, or on the Internet. These can serve as appropriate references for research reports and term papers. It is important, however, to acknowledge the sources of these documents, even though you may never have seen "hard copy" (printed versions) of the file(s) you wish to cite. This section describes how you are to cite references that you have obtained from electronic repositories.

The basic form of your reference will be similar to printed references, but you will need to add some important additional information: the type of medium used, and the material's availability.

In general, if you wish to cite an electronic file, you should include either the term "[Online]" or the term "[CDROM]" (enclosed in square brackets) before the closing period terminating the title of the work cited. If you are citing a part of a larger work, you should give the title, followed by a comma, the word "In" followed by the larger work, and then add "[Online]" or "[CDROM]" as appropriate, followed by a period.

Citing the availability of an electronic document should give the reader enough information to know where to locate the file and, if necessary, the specific portion of the file cited. Electronic documents can come from several types of locations:

    ftp: identify the ftp server, location (path), and file name

    Internet (e.g., world wide web): give the location and file name; the URL is sufficient

    mailing lists, newsgroups: identify the server, method of access, and file name; do not cite personal email

    databases (e.g., computer database in Melvyl): identify access method

In each case, you should give enough information to let the reader know how to access the information electronically. Generally, giving the site (Internet-style server name) on which the information resides, the name of the file, and the complete path (list of directories) showing how to get to it is sufficient.For example:

    [Online]. Available: email: listserv@ncsuvm.cc.ncsu.edu Message: Get POETICS TODAY.

    [Online] Available: FTP: ftp.bio.indiana.edu, Location: /usenet/bionet/neuroscience, File: 9512.newsm.

    [CDROM]. Available: UMI File: Business Periodicals Ondisk Item 91-11501.

    [Online]. Available: http://escher.ucdavis.edu:1024/rtahomepage.html

5. Samples of Complete References

All of the examples given above may be summarized by citing a few references in the form we would like you to use. Here are some examples that would be cited in the text as (Crosley, 1988), (Essinger, 1991, May 28, pp. 97-99), (Armstrong & Keevil, 1991, p. 103), and so forth.

5.1. Printed Book

Crosley, L.M. (1988). The architects' guide to computer-aided-design. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons.

5.2. Magazine Article

Essinger, J. (1991, May 28). Just another tool of your trade. Accountancy 108, pp. 91-125.

5.3. Journal Article

Armstrong, P. and Keevil, S. (1991). Magnetic resonance imaging-2: Clinical uses. British Medical Journal 303(2), 105-109.

5.4. Interview

Computer, Christopher C. (1996, January 10) Professor, Computer Science Department, University of California - Davis, 3:00 pm, Davis, California.

5.5. World Wide Web Address

Austin, A. (1996) Annotated List of World Wide Web Technical Writing and Computer-Aided Composition Resources [Online]. Available: http://wwwcsif.cs.ucdavis.edu/~austina/cai.html.

Burke, J. (1992, January/February). Children's research and methods: What media researchers are doing, Journal of Advertising Research, 32, RC2-RC3. [CDROM]. Available: UMI File: Business Periodicals Ondisk Item: 92-11501.

5.7. FTP

Blood, T. (1995, November 30). Re: Brain implants: the Chinese made it! [Online] In Newsgroup: bionet.neuroscience, Available FTP: ftp.bio.indiana.edu, Directory: /usenet/bionet/neuroscience, File: 9512.newsm, Date: Thu, 30 Nov 1995 20:39:35.

Watson, L, and Dallwitz, M.J. (1990, December). Grass genera of the world-interactive identification and information retrieval. Flora Online: An Electronic Publication of TAXACOM (22). [Online]. Available FTP: huh.harvard.edu, Directory: pub/newsletters/flora.online/issue22, File:022gra11.txt.

6. References

American Psychological Association (APA) (2001). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (Fifth Edition).Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Li, X. and Crane, N.B. (1993). Electronic style: A guide to citing electronic information. Westport, CT: Mecklermedia.

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This brief study guide aims to help you to understand why you should include references to the information sources that you use to underpin your writing. It explains the main principles of accurately referencing such sources in your work.

Other useful guides: Effective note making, Avoiding plagiarism.

Why reference?

When you are writing an essay, report, dissertation or any other form of academic writing, your own thoughts and ideas inevitably build on those of other writers, researchers or teachers. It is essential that you acknowledge your debt to the sources of data, research and ideas on which you have drawn by including references to, and full details of, these sources in your work. Referencing your work allows the reader:

  • to distinguish your own ideas and findings from those you have drawn from the work of others;
  • to follow up in more detail the ideas or facts that you have referred to.

Before you write

Whenever you read or research material for your writing, make sure that you include in your notes, or on any photocopied material, the full publication details of each relevant text that you read. These details should include:

  • surname(s) and initial(s) of the author(s);
  • the date of publication;
  • the title of the text;
  • if it is a paper, the title of the journal and volume number;
  • if it is a chapter of an edited book, the book's title and editor(s)
    the publisher and place of publication*;
  • the first and last page numbers if it is a journal article or a chapter in an edited book.

For particularly important points, or for parts of texts that you might wish to quote word for word, also include in your notes the specific page reference.

* Please note that the publisher of a book should not be confused with the printer. The publisher's name is normally on a book's main title page, and often on the book's spine too.

When to use references

Your source should be acknowledged every time the point that you make, or the data or other information that you use, is substantially that of another writer and not your own. As a very rough guide, while the introduction and the conclusions to your writing might be largely based on your own ideas, within the main body of your report, essay or dissertation, you would expect to be drawing on, and thus referencing your debt to, the work of others in each main section or paragraph. Look at the ways in which your sources use references in their own work, and for further guidance consult the companion guide Avoiding Plagiarism.

Referencing styles

There are many different referencing conventions in common use. Each department will have its own preferred format, and every journal or book editor has a set of 'house rules'. This guide aims to explain the general principles by giving details of the two most commonly used formats, the 'author, date' system and footnotes or endnotes. Once you have understood the principles common to all referencing systems you should be able to apply the specific rules set by your own department.

How to reference using the 'author, date' system

In the 'author, date' system (often referred to as the 'Harvard' system) very brief details of the source from which a discussion point or piece of factual information is drawn are included in the text. Full details of the source are then given in a reference list or bibliography at the end of the text. This allows the writer to fully acknowledge her/his sources, without significantly interrupting the flow of the writing.

1. Citing your source within the text

As the name suggests, the citation in the text normally includes the name(s) (surname only) of the author(s) and the date of the publication. This information is usually included in brackets at the most appropriate point in the text.

The seminars that are often a part of humanities courses can provide opportunities for students to develop the communication and interpersonal skills that are valued by employers (Lyon, 1992).

The text reference above indicates to the reader that the point being made draws on a work by Lyon, published in 1992. An alternative format is shown in the example below.

Knapper and Cropley (1991: p. 44) believe that the willingness of adults to learn is affected by their attitudes, values and self-image and that their capacity to learn depends greatly on their study skills.

Note that in this example reference has been made to a specific point within a very long text (in this instance a book) and so a page number has been added. This gives the reader the opportunity to find the particular place in the text where the point referred to is made. You should always include the page number when you include a passage of direct quotation from another writer's work.

When a publication has several authors, it is usual to give the surname of the first author followed by et al. (an abbreviation of the Latin for 'and the others') although for works with just two authors both names may be given, as in the example above.

Do not forget that you should also include reference to the source of any tables of data, diagrams or maps that you include in your work. If you have included a straight copy of a table or figure, then it is usual to add a reference to the table or figure caption thus:

Figure 1: The continuum of influences on learning (from Knapper and Cropley, 1991: p. 43).

Even if you have reorganised a table of data, or redrawn a figure, you should still acknowledge its source:

Table 1: Type of work entered by humanities graduates (data from Lyon, 1992: Table 8.5).

You may need to cite an unpublished idea or discussion point from an oral presentation, such as a lecture. The format for the text citation is normally exactly the same as for a published work and should give the speaker's name and the date of the presentation.

Recent research on the origins of early man has challenged the views expressed in many of the standard textbooks (Barker, 1996).

If the idea or information that you wish to cite has been told to you personally, perhaps in a discussion with a lecturer or a tutor, it is normal to reference the point as shown in the example below.

The experience of the Student Learning Centre at Leicester is that many students are anxious to improve their writing skills, and are keen to seek help and guidance (Maria Lorenzini, pers. comm.).

'Pers. comm.' stands for personal communication; no further information is usually required.

2. Reference lists/ bibliographies

When using the 'author, date' system, the brief references included in the text must be followed up with full publication details, usually as an alphabetical reference list or bibliography at the end of your piece of work. The examples given below are used to indicate the main principles.

Book references

The simplest format, for a book reference, is given first; it is the full reference for one of the works quoted in the examples above.

Knapper, C.K. and Cropley, A. 1991: Lifelong Learning and Higher Education. London: Croom Helm.

The reference above includes:

  • the surnames and forenames or initials of both the authors;
  • the date of publication;
  • the book title;
  • the place of publication;
  • the name of the publisher.

The title of the book should be formatted to distinguish it from the other details; in the example above it is italicised, but it could be in bold, underlined or in inverted commas. When multi-authored works have been quoted, it is important to include the names of all the authors, even when the text reference used was et al.

Papers or articles within an edited book

A reference to a paper or article within an edited book should in addition include:

  • the editor and the title of the book;
  • the first and last page numbers of the article or paper.

Lyon, E.S. 1992: Humanities graduates in the labour market. In H. Eggins (ed.), Arts Graduates, their Skills and their Employment. London: The Falmer Press, pp. 123-143.

Journal articles

Journal articles must also include:


  • the name and volume number of the journal;
  • the first and last page numbers of the article.


The publisher and place of publication are not normally required for journals.

Pask, G. 1979: Styles and strategies of learning. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, pp. 128-148.

Note that in the last two references above, it is the book title and the journal name that are italicised, not the title of the paper or article. The name highlighted should always be the name under which the work will have been filed on the library shelves or referenced in any indexing system. It is often the name which is written on the spine of the volume, and if you remember this it may be easier for you to remember which is the appropriate title to highlight.

Other types of publications

The three examples above cover the most common publication types. You may also wish to refer to other types of publications, including PhD dissertations, translated works, newspaper articles, dictionary or encyclopaedia entries or legal or historical texts. The same general principles apply to the referencing of all published sources, but for specific conventions consult your departmental handbook or your tutor, or look at the more detailed reference books listed in the Further reading section of this guide.

Referencing web pages

The internet is increasingly used as a source of information and it is just as important to reference internet sources as it is to reference printed sources.  Information on the internet changes rapidly and web pages move or are sometimes inaccessible meaning it can often be difficult to validate or even find information cited from the internet.   When referencing web pages it is helpful to include details that will help other people check or follow up the information.  A suggested format is to include the author of the information (this may be an individual, group or organisation), the date the page was put on the internet (most web pages have a date at the bottom of the page), the title, the http:// address, and the date you accessed the web page (in case the information has been subsequently modified).  A format for referencing web pages is given below.

University of Leicester Standing Committee of Deans (6/8/2002) Internet code of practice and guide to legislation. Accessed 8/8/02

Referencing lectures

Full references to unpublished oral presentations, such as lectures, usually include the speaker's name, the date of the lecture, the name of the lecture or of the lecture series, and the location:

Barker, G. 1996 (7 October): The Archaeology of Europe, Lecture 1. University of Leicester.

Please note that in contrast to the format used for the published sources given in the first three examples above, the formatting of references for unpublished sources does not include italics, as there is no publication title to highlight.

Formatting references

If you look carefully at all the examples of full references given above, you will see that there is a consistency in the ways in which punctuation and capitalisation have been used. There are many other ways in which references can be formatted - look at the books and articles you read for other examples and at any guidelines in your course handbooks. The only rule governing formatting is the rule of consistency.

How to reference using footnotes or endnotes

Some academic disciplines prefer to use footnotes (notes at the foot of the page) or endnotes (notes at the end of the work) to reference their writing. Although this method differs in style from the 'author, date' system, its purpose - to acknowledge the source of ideas, data or quotations without undue interruption to the flow of the writing - is the same.

Footnote or endnote markers, usually a sequential series of numbers either in brackets or slightly above the line of writing or printing (superscript), are placed at the appropriate point in the text. This is normally where you would insert the author and date if you were using the 'author, date' system described above.

Employers are not just looking for high academic achievement and have identified competencies that distinguish the high performers from the average graduate.¹ This view has been supported by an early study that demonstrated that graduates employed in the industrial and commercial sectors were as likely to have lower second and third class degrees as firsts and upper seconds.²

Full details of the reference are then given at the bottom of the relevant page or, if endnotes are preferred, in numerical order at the end of the writing. Rules for the formatting of the detailed references follow the same principles as for the reference lists for the 'author, date' system.

1. Moore, K. 1992: National Westminster Bank plc. In H. Eggins (ed.), Arts Graduates, their Skills and their Employment. London: The Falmer Press, pp. 24-26.

2. Kelsall, R.K., Poole, A. and Kuhn, A. 1970: Six Years After. Sheffield: Higher Education Research Unit, Sheffield University,
p. 40.

NB. The reference to 'p.40' at the end of note 2 above implies that the specific point referred to is to be found on page 40 of the book referenced.

If the same source needs to be referred to several times, on second or subsequent occasions, a shortened reference may be used.

Studies of women's employment patterns have demonstrated the relationship between marital status and employment sector. ³
3. Kelsall et al. 1970 (as n.2 above).

In this example, the footnote refers the reader to the full reference to be found in footnote 2.

In some academic disciplines, footnotes and endnotes are not only used for references, but also to contain elaborations or explanations of points made in the main text. If you are unsure about how to use footnotes or endnotes in your work, consult your departmental guidelines or personal tutor.

If you are studying with the School of Law, you are required to follow the conventions of OSCOLA (The Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities). Full details of how to use this system are provided by the School. Copies of the system are also made available on Blackboard.


Whichever referencing system you use, you should check carefully to make sure that:

  • you have included in your reference list/bibliography, footnotes or endnotes full details of all the sources referred to in your text;
  • you have used punctuation and text formatting, such as italics, capitals, and bold text, in a consistent manner in your reference lists or footnotes.

Further reading

More detailed discussion of referencing conventions is to be found in the following publications:

  • Berry, R. 2004: The Research Project: How to Write It. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Gash, S. 1999: Effective Literature Searching for Students (second edition). Aldershot: Gower.
  • Gibaldi, J. 2004: MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (sixth edition). New York: The Modern Language Association of America.
  • Watson, G. 1987: Writing a Thesis: a Guide to Long Essays and Dissertations. London: Longman.

There are also software programs, for example, Endnote and Refworks that are designed to manage references. They include the facility to incorporate 'author, date' insertions within your text, and to format reference lists automatically.

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