5.4 Creating Reference List Citations

Sarah Adams; Debbie Feisst; and Linda Macdonald

Learning Objectives

By the end of this chapter, you should be able to

  • Identify the four parts of a reference citation
  • Locate resources for additional examples of APA referencing
  • Place the parts of a citation in the correct order

Next, we will use the Four W’s to look at reference citations. Pay close attention to the punctuation and font emphasis (italics) used for each source type.

Dalhousie Library’s APA QuickGuide summarizes the requirements for creating reference citations and for formatting academic papers in APA Style (specifying double-spacing and certain typefaces, for example). Some instructors will ask that you use APA Style for both formatting academic papers and for referencing. Other courses, like this course in Business Communication, ask that you only apply APA Style for referencing. In Business Communication courses, our focus is on common standards in a professional, not academic, setting. We require APA Style Referencing but not APA Style Formatting. Be sure to ask your instructor or employer about their formatting requirements.

These slides provide an overview of the four parts of a reference citation. Click the arrow to see the next slide.

Always use the Who, When, What, Where order in creating your citations. The following examples illustrate a few reference types common in business writing. Note that the reference citations use hanging indents (the citation is indented after the first line), as required by APA. Hanging indents make it easier to find the source in a long reference list.

Industry report from a database

WHO: Name the group that produced the work.

WHEN: Write the year followed by the day. If several articles from MarketLine are used, the references will be distinguished by the date with the earliest listed first ; if articles are from the same year and date, differentiate with letters on the date (2023a, February 14) (2023b, February 14).

WHAT: Write the title. This document stands alone (it is not part of a larger report or journal), so the first word of the title is capitalized. The rest of the words in the title would not be capitalized with the exception of proper nouns (Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.) and any word that follows punctuation (in this example, “Company”). The title is italicized.

WHERE: Name the location of the source. The material in this example is from a database that is not publicly accessible, so many readers cannot access the article themselves. If you see “ezproxy” in the address, the site is only available through a paid subscription. In this case, provide the name of the database and the hyperlinked publicly accessible home address of the database.

Note that a retrieval date is provided before the location in this example. Include a retrieval date if the information may change, for example company websites, SWOT Analyses in MarketLine, or company profiles. Retrieval dates are not required for archived information like annual reports or news articles.

Academic journal article with a DOI

Reference citation for a journal article highlighted in different colours and labels for each 4W: who, when, what, and where. Citation is Kirkpatrick, L., Brown, H. M., Searle, M., Smyth, R. E., Ready, E. A., & Kennedy, K. (2018). Impact of a one-to-one iPad initiative on Grade 7 students’ achievement in language arts, mathematics, and learning skills. Computers in the Schools, 35(3), 171-185. https://doi.org/10.1080/07380569.2018.1491771.WHO: Include the family name and initials for each author, with a comma in between, and an ampersand (&) before the last author. Authors are always listed in the same order they appear on the work.

WHEN: Identify the publication year of the article.

WHAT: Write the article name in sentence-case with the first letter of the title capitalized.

WHERE: Identify the Scholarly Journal Title (in title-case with all key words capitalized and italics), volume (in italics)and issue number, the article’s page range, and hyperlinked DOI. The article is part of a larger source (the scholarly journal), so the journal is italicized and not the article.

Newspaper article from a website

Reference for a news article with different colours highlighting the 4 W's of the reference.

WHO: Provide the author‘s family name followed by a comma, the first letter of the given name, and a period.

WHEN Write the year followed by the day.

WHAT Identify the article name in sentence-case with the first letter of the title capitalized.

WHERE: Name the Newspaper‘s Title (in title-case and italics) and hyperlinked URL.

Complete the following three activities:


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5.4 Creating Reference List Citations Copyright © 2021 by Sarah Adams; Debbie Feisst; and Linda Macdonald is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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