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.

The following examples are of 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:

Reference for an industry report from a database

Example of a reference for industry reports from a database using different colours to represent the 4 W's of referencing.

  • Author, the group that produced the work.
  • Date, 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 (2018a, February 14) (2018b, February 14).
  • Title. This document stands alone (it is not part of a larger report or journal), so the first word of the title is capitalized (and any word that follows punctuation, if any), and the title is italicized.
  • Source Location. Much of the content available in subscription databases is available through multiple sources (for example, newspaper articles), and you should find and use one of these publicly accessible sources in the citation if possible. However, the material in this example is from a database that is not publicly accessible, so many readers cannot access the article themselves. In this case, no web address is provided.

Reference for a 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.
  • Author, 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.
  • Date, the publication year of the article.
  • Title, in sentence-case with the first letter of the title capitalized.
  • Source location, 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.

Reference for a newspaper article

Reference for a news article with different colours highlighting the 4 W's of the reference.
  • Author, the author’s family name followed by a comma, the first letter of the given name, and a period.
  • Date, the year followed by the day.
  • Title, in sentence-case with the first letter of the title capitalized.
  • Source Location: the Newspaper‘s Title (in title-case and italics) and hyperlinked URL

This infographic provides an overview of each of the Four W’s with some examples. To view the 2-page APA 7th edition overview infographic, go to  APA 7th Edition Overview Infographic [PDF].

Infographic with green, yellow, and white bannered background displaying APA citation details related to the 4Ws (who, when, what, and where). Infographic is divided in sections according to each 4W including author, date, tiitle, and source location.


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5.4 Creating Reference List Citations 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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