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Atrium - Cabarrus Teammates LibGuide: APA

Guide for Atrium Cabarrus Staff to assist with researching


When you are presenting your research, you must cite your work.  Citation is the formal method of letting your readers know which material in your work came from another source and gives your reader the information necessary to find that source again.  One method of citation is the American Psychological Association (APA) citation and format style.  Your best reference is to utilize the Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. (2016). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, which provides information regarding PRINT sources and APA style guide to electronic references. (2012). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association for ELECTRONIC sources.


Citation is acknowledging other people's works and/or ideas within your own work (paper, poster, presentation, etc.).  It is the formal method of letting your readers know which material in your work came from another source and gives your reader the information necessary to find that source again.  Citation also shows the amount of research you have done and strengthens your work by lending outside support to your ideas. 

Please review Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton's blog post regarding the difference between Citation and Reference for more information.


Citation is a matter of "giving credit where credit is due!"   Anytime you quote, summarize, paraphrase or refer to anyone else's work, you need to cite it!  Citing is the method of giving credit to other people's work when you use them in your own work (such as papers, speeches, posters or projects).  Citing is the best way to avoid plagiarism! 

Please refer to the article "Why Cite? Three Reasons to Cite Your Sources" and Falcon Scientific Editing for "6 Reasons Why Citation of Sources is Important When Writing" for additional information regarding citing your sources.

You may not have to cite anything that is considered common knowledge, such as dates, well known facts, etc.  For example, "Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States of America". This statement is common knowledge and does not require citation.

Below are some examples of things that need to be cited. This list is not comprehensive.  Perdue OWL website offers assistance with determining citation rules

  • journal articles, newspaper articles, magazine articles
  • books ( excerpts, chapters or the whole book)
  • websites and web pages
  • encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • interviews and speeches
  • all ideas that are not your own

A good rule of thumb is that you should cite anything that comes from another source, either directly or indirectly.


Students in higher education programs often prefer to use citation management programs for scholarly writing assignments.  There are many programs available, some at a cost and others that are free.  We do not promote any specific citation management program; however, you maymay choose to use one.  Please be aware that you are still responsible for the end result, so it would be prudent to review all the results from a citation manager to verify that they are correct!

A few, but by no means all,  popular citation managers include:  

  • EndNote

  • Mendeley Reference Manager

  • RefWorks (individual subscription required)

  • Zotero (Cross-Platform, Open Source)

Some universities have created tutorial web pages on citation management.  Examples include:

Below are additional websites that will provide assistance with APA citation:

Plagiarism Definition

Plagiarism is derived from the Latin term plagiarius which means kidnapper.  If you use someone's work without proper credit (citation), you are "kidnapping" their work.  Plagiarism is not tolerated in the academic or professional field.

Plagiarism is "an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author" (  To avoid plagiarism, every direct quotation must be identified by quotation marks or appropriate indentation.  Direct quotations and paraphrasing must be cited properly according to the accepted formation, such as APA.  Some examples of plagiarism include:

  • Copying word for word (directly quoting) from oral, printed or electronic sources without proper attribution.
  • Paraphrasing without proper attribution (presenting in your own words another person's written words or ideas as if they were your own).
  • Incorporating into your work graphs, drawings, photographs, diagrams, tables, spreadsheets, or other non-textual material from other sources with out proper credit.
  • Reusing work one previously created without proper citation (Self-Plagiarism).

This is not an exclusive list! For more information about Plagiarism, please refer to the website,

Copyright Law

United States Copyright law governs the fair use of copying materials for research.  Please refer to the U.S. Copyright website for more information regarding the rules and regulations regarding copyright.  You can also refer to Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright

Copyright protects various types of works, including literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pictures, graphs, sound recordings and audiovisual works.  This is NOT a comprehensive list.  Copyright laws are defined in the U.S. Code, Title 17 Chapter 1.  For a more user friendly breakdown of the U.S. Code, you can view the information on Cornell Law School website.