1 What Is a Citation?

What is a citation? 

You may think of referencing as something specific only to academic discourse, but we actually use references informally in our daily lives all the time. You are doing this to let the other person know from where you got this information.

Everyday referencing examples

Informal Referencing Example 1: I just read that Levi was the top goalie in the World Juniors. Awesome, eh? Example 2: Ravi said there is a new Ranveer Singh movie. Want to watch it?

In academic discourse, we are doing a similar type of referencing, but it happens in a more formal and prescribed way through a process called citation. In a citation, you will give very specific key information.


Academic referencing examples 

Formal referencing example 1: Levi is one of the few goalies who was recruited from outside Canada's major junior leages (Spencer, 2020). Example 2: Gupta (2018) gave a low rating to the movie Simmba, but praised Ranveer Singh's performance.

These are in-text references where only very brief information is given, usually the author and the year of publication. Each in-text reference must also have an entry in the reference list at the end of your writeup with more information, so the reader can find the source.


Referencing formal showing both in-text and corresponding reference list citations


Key Takeaways

A citation:

  • is a reference to a source of information
  • gives specific key information about the source, so the reader can find it
  • gives brief information in the text and more detailed information in a reference list at the end



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APA Style Citations by Ulrike Kestler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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