Citing authors

Key words: author-date, citation, in-text references, strong author, weak author, reporting words

In your academic writing, you have to support your points with concrete evidence taken from a variety of valid sources, and name the author/source of your evidence in your writing. UNE units use a number of different referencing styles that follow particular rules.

Please note that the APA referencing style is used in this workshop.

About citing authors

Referencing is a very important academic convention that recognises that academic writing builds on previous research. In nearly all assignments, you are required to refer to the work of others. You must ALWAYS explicitly acknowledge these sources as:

  • an in-text reference in the body of your assignment
  • an item in the list of references at the end of your work.

There are a number of referencing styles in place at UNE, and you must know the appropriate style for your study units. These activities will assist you to understand the general principles of referencing which you can adapt to suit other referencing systems.

The APA Author-date referencing style

Locate the ASO factsheets on Plagiarism and APA in-text referencing before you start the activities for this workshop.

The APA Author-date referencing style uses in-text citations (integrating the names of authors in your paragraph) to credit information to the correct source. This format is the same for all types of references (e.g. print, multi-media, Internet). In-text references contain THREE ITEMS:

  1. the name/s of author/s
  2. year of publication
  3. page number or paragraph number (if no page number is available)

When you write up your reference list at the end of your essay, each author mentioned in-text must be included in this reference list.

Exercise 1: Author-date referencing

Read this example and note the format for citing in-text authors:

Placing the author in your writing

There are two techniques you can use to put the names of authors in your writing.

Click on each link for a description.

Narrative citation

BEFORE you give the information, you use the surname/s of the author/s as part of your writing followed by the year, page in brackets.


According to Elton (2009, pp. 106-109), students who show mastery in assignment writing …

Parenthetical citation

Parenthetical citation
AFTER you have given the information, you place a bracket around the surname/s of the author/s year, page.


Recent studies into student assignment writing show that … (Elton, 2009, pp. 106-109)


Exercise 2: Author orientation

Read this paragraph and identify the author orientation.

Students develop a strong understanding of the content and writing conventions of subject areas through assignment tasks. Literacy researchers (Johns, 2004, pp. 199-208; Taylor, 2006, pp. 156-159) claim that writing and understanding go hand in hand. Smith and Brown (2005, p. 1) argue that “to master your learning materials and extend your understandings, you need to write about the meanings you gain from your research”. Furthermore, while students are researching, reading and writing in their discipline, they also learn how to “crack the code” of the discipline (Bloggs et al., 2003, p. 44). It is a case of students learning by doing. By researching and writing essays with appropriate feedback from their lecturers, students are learning subject matter and how to write in their disciplines.



(Johns, 2004, pp. 199-208; Taylor, 2006, pp. 156-159)

Narrative citation


Parenthetical citation




Smith and Brown (2005, p. 1)

Narrative citation


Parenthetical citation




(Bloggs et al., 2003, p. 44)

Narrative citation


Parenthetical citation


Reporting words for authors

There are many ways to bring your authorities (authors) into your writing. It is very important that you choose the correct words to match the meaning you are making in your writing. Following is a sample list of reporting words to help you make correct choices:

Reporting words for incorporating author names

A: acknowledges, adds, admits, affirms, agrees, argues, asserts assumes, assures
C: challenges, claims, clarifies, comments, concedes, concludes
D: declares, demonstrates, denies, describes, disagrees, discusses, doubts
E: elaborates, emphasises, explains
I: implies, infers, informs
M-O: maintains, mentions, notes, observes
P-Q: points out, presents, proves, questions
R: reasons, recognises, refutes, relates, remarks, reports, requests, responds, reveals
S: shows, states, suggests
T-W: thinks, urges, warns


Don’t do this!

  • Don’t just dump information into your paragraph. A paragraph needs ‘flow’, so use reporting words and phrases to introduce your information and transitional words to help it all ‘hang together’.
  • Don’t just write a whole paragraph from one source and put a name at the end of the paragraph. Each idea in a paragraph is referenced at SENTENCE LEVEL.
  • Avoid using citations in the topic and concluding sentences of a paragraph.