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Reference List Citations

What is a Reference List Citation?

Let’s begin by discussing what a reference list is. A reference list is an alphabetized list located on a separate page at the end of your paper that lists all the reference citations for the sources used in your paper to support your research.

Each reference citation includes key elements referred to as the Four W’s:

Author Date Title Source Location
Who? When? What? Where?

Asking these 4 questions helps identify the key elements needed for a reference list citation.

You’re not expected to memorize APA guidelines. Instead, use available resources (APA Quickguide and this tutorial) to help guide you. Over time you will become more comfortable with creating citations yourself.


Using APA resources to help create a reference citation is like using a recipe. The ingredients are the key pieces of information about a source (4Ws). If you’re missing an ingredient, leave it out or substitute it.

Following a recipe’s directions is like following a citation example. If you follow the directions and add the ingredients at the right point, then your recipe (i.e. your citation) will turn out!




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APA Style Citation Tutorial by University of Alberta Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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