Referencing is how you acknowledge the information sources used in your work

Clear and consistent referencing shows you can demonstrate your understanding of the topic, support your ideas with research and avoid accusations of plagiarism.

Discover more about common university referencing styles as well as steps for referencing throughout your work. We also have information on referencing software and other helpful tools.

REFERENCING STYLES

A referencing style is a set of rules which outline how to include references in your writing. These rules help us to communicate clearly and to make sure the work of other people is acknowledged appropriately.

There are many different referencing styles. You will need to check which style your course or school requires you to use.

Some common referencing styles include APA 6, AGPS Harvard, MLA and Vancouver and Chicago 17th. You can find guides to these styles in our referencing tool. Other guides will be provided by your course convenor or school.

One of the most important parts of referencing is understanding your referencing style, and how to use it. Each referencing style has specific formatting details, which you need to follow closely, so that your writing and referencing is easier to understand.

There are two parts to most referencing styles: the citations within the text and the reference list at the end of your work.

In-text citations

In-text citations provide brief information about the sources you have used so that readers can locate the resource in your list of references. They acknowledge when you have used the words or ideas of someone else and support your work with evidence.

You need to include citations for direct quotations (when you are using someone’s exact words) and when you paraphrase their ideas into your own words.

Each referencing style uses a different format for in-text citations, so make sure you check your referencing style guide for more details.

A common in-text citation method for many referencing styles uses the authors’ family names and the date of publication. Another common method is to use a numbered style.

In-text citations may also require you to provide a page number to direct people to the specific location of the information.

Reference lists

Most referencing styles require you to provide a reference list or bibliography. A reference list provides the full details of the sources you have cited in the text of your work.

A bibliography is similar to a reference list, but it includes all sources you have used to create your work, not just the ones you have cited in the text.

It is important to check the style guide to find out how to format your reference list correctly. Each referencing style has specific requirements for what information is included in a reference, as well as punctuation and layout.

The details you need for each reference will depend on what type of resource you have. For example, journal articles and books require slightly different information.

Four easy steps to referencing

In some instances you can choose your referencing style, but mostly your course or school will dictate which style you should follow. It’s your responsibility to find out what referencing style you are required to use and to locate the correct style guide.

You need to figure out exactly what you are referencing. Is it a book? Is it a print book or an eBook? Is it the whole book, or just a chapter? Is it a journal article, web document or conference proceeding?

The resource type will dictate what details you will need to record. Check the referencing style guide to see what information you need to record for that resource type.

Resource types can include:

  • books
  • journal articles
  • news articles
  • websites
  • documents from an online database
  • encyclopedias or dictionaries
  • theses or dissertations
  • annual reports
  • interviews
  • audiovisual material such as videos, television shows or music recordings
  • legislation
  • unpublished works
  • conference proceedings
  • technical and research reports
  • course materials such as lecture notes and handouts or online course readings.

Accurately record all the information about the resource you are referencing. You will need to note who created it, when was it created, what is it called and where was it published.

Be sure to consult your referencing style guide during this step. It will specify exactly what information you need.

Who: The creator of a resource is typically an author. This is true for a book, a journal article or a conference paper. But the creator can also be an editor, organisation, director, or artist. For example, if you were referencing a film you would need to find out who directed and produced the movie.

When: When a work was published is an important part of a reference. This is usually a year of publication, but you might also need a specific date for some types of sources, such as newspaper articles.

What: Your resource will have a title, and you will most definitely need it for your reference list. But, just to keep you on your toes, some resource types have more than one title. For example, journal articles have an article title, and the title of the journal they are published in. Book chapters have a chapter title, and a book title. In this instance, you will need to record both.

Where: Where your source was published is the final piece of information you will need for a comprehensive reference. The details you need to record will obviously depend on the type of resource you are referencing.

Print books will need the name of the publisher and the place of publication, but an ebook might only need a web address or a Digital Object Identifier.

A journal article will need the volume, issue and page numbers of the journal it appeared in, as well as a Digital Object Identifier or web address, depending on your reference style.

Once you have collected all the information about the resource, it’s time to put it into your reference list.

At this point, you will have your referencing style guide in front of you and all the pertinent information about the resource you are referencing.

Now, it’s just a matter of putting the information together in the right order, with the right punctuation and capitalisation. Use the examples from your referencing guide to create a reference and in-text citation for your resource.

Once you have finished writing your reference list, take the time to proofread it. It’s so easy to accidentally miss a comma or full stop.

Referencing tool

Our referencing tool provides examples of direct quotations, paraphrasing and full references for a range of resources you may have used when researching a topic.

The tool covers AGPS Harvard, APA 6th, Vancouver and Chicago 17th referencing styles.

REFERENCING APPS AND SOFTWARE

There are lots of tools, software and apps that can help you with your referencing, but it is important you understand how to reference and what your style should look like before you use them.

None of these tools are perfect, so you need to be able to proofread the references they create and correct any mistakes.

The EndNote reference management software is one of the most popular options and you can access it for free as a Griffith student or staff member.

EndNote

EndNote is Griffith's recommended bibliographic management software to easily:

  • collect references
  • organise references and documents in a searchable library
  • create instant reference lists and/or bibliographies.

Our referencing tool shows how references should appear in different styles.

Check out the relevant guide below to get started:

Downloading EndNote

To install EndNote on your personal computer, either:

For staff machines, go to the Windows start button and select Installable Applications. Check the the EndNote website for system requirements and version compatibility with your Windows or Mac environment.

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