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Citing reference sources for your research topic

When you write a research paper, you are continuing a conversation with the scholars who came before you. Citing their work is a way of acknowledging and thanking them, and allowing your readers to access their works.

You must give credit to the authors and researchers who influenced your work and document any data or other information you use that is not considered common knowledge.

Still confused about plagiarism or APA citations?

The NETC Library offers a class on APA citations and how to paraphrase, summarize and quote. Call or email the library if you are interested. Our toll-free number is 800-638-1821.

How to avoid plagiarism and create APA citations

10 types of plagiarism

Avoiding plagiarism

Creating an APA citation


APA style: Articles from databases and the web

Basic Format: Journal Article

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year of Journal). Article title with just the first word, words following a colon or em dash, and proper nouns capitalized. Name of Journal, Volume (issue), page # range if digitized from print version (PDF). doi: if there is one

For articles with 3-7 authors, list all the authors separated by commas. Use an ampersand (&) to separate the last author from the preceding authors (as above). For articles with two authors, insert an ampersand between the first and second author.

What is a DOI?

A DOI, or Digital Object Identifier, is a unique number assigned to some journal articles. A DOI provides a stable link to an article. If you’re using a database, such as EBSCO Host, you can generally find the article’s DOI listed on your search results.

Article with a DOI

Jiang, J., Wang, P., Lung, W., Guo, L., & Li, M. (2012). A GIS-based generic real-time risk assessment framework and decision tools for chemical spills in the river basin. Journal Of Hazardous Materials, 227/228, 280-291. doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2012.05.051

Article without a DOI

If there is no DOI, list the homepage URL for the journal instead.

Forsting, S. L. (2004). Environmental health professionals and emergency preparedness: Canadian perspectives. Journal Of Environmental Health, 67(4), 31-35. Retrieved from http://www.neha.org/publications/journal-environmental-health

APA style: In-text citations

Oreshan, J. & Toruno, K. (2012) Chemical suicides: The dangers posed to responders & the public. Public Safety Communications, 78(2), 40-44.

Example 1: Author’s name not mentioned along with the quote

“In most cases, it’s not until an emergency responder is transported to a hospital from exposure that a chemical suicide is recognized” (Oreshan & Toruno, 2012, p.42).

Example 2: Author’s name included with the quote

According to Oreshan and Toruno (2012), “In most cases, it’s not until an emergency responder is transported to a hospital from exposure that a chemical suicide is recognized” (p.42).

Example 3: Block quotes of 40 or more words are indented 1/2 inch and double spaced

Oreshan and Toruno (2012) state:

Chemical suicides can pose a great danger to responders and bystanders because a cloud of toxic gas may remain at the scene, waiting to be released as a door or window is opened. The materials used in the suicide may continue to off-gas for an extended period of time after initial generation, and toxic gases may remain in the victim’s lungs, clothing or in the confined space. These gases are lethal at low concentrations and often can’t be easily detected. (p.44)


  • In-text citations refer the reader to the references page: the first word listed in the reference (generally the author’s last name) should be the word used for the in-text citation. In order to avoid confusion more than one word can be used for the in-text citation.
  • If a word is italicized on the references page, italicize it in the in-text citation.
  • Include only the year of publication in the in-text citation, even if the exact date is listed on the reference page.

APA style: Websites and online sources

Basic format for a website

Author, A. A. (Year, Month Date). Title of webpage. Retrieved from webpage URL


Masys, A. (2015). Disaster management: Enabling resilience. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzg4MzM1MF9fQU41?sid=f13e07ad-329f-4eee-8a77-e0ed2e58a933@sessionmgr103&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1

Corporate author, government document

United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Fire Administration, National Fire Academy. (2015, November 15) Executive fire officer program handbook. Retrieved from https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/efop_guidelines.pdf

YouTube video

Rutledge, P. (2013, March 7). Disaster preparedness [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN6ma7Titso

Blog post

Kimball, A. (2016, August 22). Research foundation study developed a prototype tool to measure environmental and economic impact of a fire event [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://community.nfpa.org/community/nfpa-today/blog/2016/08/22/research-foundation-study-developed-a-prototype-tool-to-measure-environmental-and-economic-impact-of-a-fire-event

APA style: Print sources

Basic format for a book

Author, A. A. (Publication Year). Title of book. City, State: Publisher.

Heifetz, R. A. & Linsky, M. (2002). Leadership on the line: Staying alive through the dangers of leading. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Editor as book author

Ursano, R. J., McCaughey, B. G. & Fullerton, C. S. (Eds.). (1994). Individual and community responses to trauma and disaster: The structure of human chaos. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Article or chapter in an edited book

Shalev, A. Y. (1994) Debriefing following traumatic exposure. In R. J. Ursano, B. G. McCaughey & C. S. Fullerton (Eds.), Individual and community responses to trauma and disaster: The structure of human chaos. (pp. 201-219). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Encyclopedia or reference book essay

Greenwald, H. P. (2000). Civil liberties. In E. F. Borgatta & R. J. V. Montgomery (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Sociology. (Vol 1, pp. 314-319). New York: Macmillan Reference USA.

Basic format for a print periodical

Author. Z. A. (Year). Title of article capitalizing the first word of title, the first word after a colon or em dash, and proper nouns. Title of Periodical Capitalized in Title Case, Volume (Issue), page numbers.

Eyre, A. (2015). Communication and fire service organizations: New reflections on an old challenge. International Fire Service Journal of Leadership and Management, 9, 11-20.


Minster, K. (2016, March). Getting smarter about fire safety. International Fire Protection Magazine, 16-17.

Newspaper article

Bacon, J. (2016, August 23). Don’t be lulled by relatively mild fire season. USA Today, p 1A.

Resources on plagiarism and creating citations

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association
Concise rules of APA style
An easy guide to APA style
Mastering APA style: student's workbook and training guide
Cite it right: the SourceAid guide to citation, research, and avoiding plagiarism
Avoiding plagiarism: write better papers in APA, Chicago, and Harvard citation styles
Preventing plagiarism: tips and techniques
Plagiarism: why it happens, how to prevent it
Guiding students from cheating and plagiarism to honesty and integrity: strategies for change

Useful links

For citations

  • Citation Fox – Sample citations for more than 500 different types of resources.
  • DOI lookup – Use this website to find an article’s DOI.
  • Harvard Guide to Using Sources – Introduces you to the fundamentals of using sources in academic papers.
  • In-text citations – The basics from Purdue OWL.
  • Mendeley – Available as a free download for desktop or mobile devices, Mendeley allows you to create citations and bibliographies, and download and annotate PDFs.
  • Zotero – A free tool to help you collect, organize, cite and share your research sources.

For APA citations

For avoiding plagiarism