When you write an assignment or essay, it is very important to acknowledge the source of anyone else's ideas that you have used or mentioned in your work.
You need to reference the direct quotations, facts and figures, as well as the ideas and theories that you use.
The reader is then able to find the original source of the information to check it or follow up a point. For more information, check out our i-tutorial on Understanding referencing.
There are different 'styles' of referencing. Find style guides and examples for APA 6th ed, Chicago 16B Author-Date, Vancouver, and the Australian Guide to Legal Citation in our Referencing Guide.
There are many acceptable styles of referencing, so it's important that you check with your tutor that you're using the correct style for your unit or school.
Some commonly used styles are the APA (American Psychological Association), Chicago Author-Date and Vancouver referencing styles, but there are many others. In the APA and Chicago styles you acknowledge an idea by placing the author's name and the year of publication at the point in your essay where you refer to it. This is called the in-text citation.
Here's an example of an in-text citation:
In 2005, the Arctic ice cap was at its smallest in 100 years (Lippsett, 2005).
The reference list at the end of your assignment then gives the full details of all the in-text citations. This example is in the APA style:
Lippsett, L. (2005). Is global warming changing the Arctic? Oceanus, 44(3), 24-25.
Referencing styles follow strict rules of punctuation and indentation and you will need to refer to a style sheet to ensure your referencing is correct.
If you are writing a long paper or starting a major piece of research, you may want to use software that will let you create a database of your references and will automatically create bibliographies at the end of your document.
EndNote is an example of this type of software.
To find out more about EndNote and to download the software, see our Endnote LibGuide.