Why reference?

When submitting a piece of academic work, you need to properly acknowledge the material that you have consulted and build and support your arguments by reference to prior research. This allows others who read your work to verify facts or research the same information more easily.

As a matter of academic integrity, it is very important to reference the source or support for ideas and information even if you put them in your own words (paraphrasing). You need to reference all information you consult and subsequently use in your work. This includes concepts and ideas as well as direct quotes, data and images.

For more help with the ‘what, why, and how’ of acknowledging your sources, visit the Library’s interactive tutorial, Demystifying citing and referencing.

What is a referencing style?

A referencing style defines in detail how you format your in-text citations and reference list.

By using a consistent style for referencing, you ensure you don’t leave out important information and create in-text citations and a reference list that are consistent and easy to read.

Many styles have developed historically through publication bodies (university and commercial publishers, editors committees, etc.) and have extensive documentation and rules on formatting different types of references. One example is APA style, developed by the American Psychological Association, but used in a variety of disciplines. More recently, automated systems have benefited from consistent styles by being able to recognise and hyperlink items in published reference links.

What style should I use?

APA 6th is the recommended style for undergraduate and coursework masters students in the Faculty of Information Technology. However, some lecturers may ask you to use another style.

APA style is a well-documented style with a plethora of good examples. It is widely used and supported both throughout Monash University and the scholarly community. APA style is also well supported by most bibliographic and referencing software.

There are two major components to the APA author-date style - the in-text author-date citation at the appropriate place within the text of the document and the detailed reference list, sorted alphabetically, at the end of the document. All in-text citations must have a corresponding reference list entry, and vice versa.

In-text citations might be presented parenthetically after paraphrased content e.g. (Smith & Brown, 2010) or after a quotation (add the page number for quotes) e.g. “vector files generally take up less room than raster” (Smith & Brown, 2010, p.65) or as part of the actual text e.g. Smith and Brown (2010) state that vector files are smaller than raster ones.

Example of APA 6th style in use

Quinn (2012) indicates that mobile devices are increasingly used for current awareness, and other sources indicate their use in education (Rogers, Connelly, Hazlewood, & Tedesco, 2010; Smith, 2012). Moreover, they “used to facilitate the switching between task-based and sensemaking activities”  (Rogers et al., 2010, p.122). However, there are limitations. Access to the full range of online multimedia formats is still an issue (Adzic, Kalva, & Fuhrt, 2011) and privacy is becoming an issue of increasing concern (Giannotti & Trasarti, 2009; Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, 2010).


Adzic, V., Kalva, H., & Furht, B. (2011). A survey of multimedia content adaptation for mobile devices. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 51(1), 379-396. doi: 10.1007/s11042-010-0669-x

Giannotti, F., & Trasarti, R. (2009). Mobility, data mining and privacy: The GeoPKDD paradigm. Paper presented at the SIAM Conference on Mathematics for Industry, Philadelphia.

Office of the Australia Information Commissioner. (2013, October 09). Privacy is a priority for the Australian community [Press release]. Retrieved from

Quinn, C. N. (2012). The mobile academy: mLearning for higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rogers, Y., Connelly, K., Hazlewood, W., & Tedesco, L. (2010). Enhancing learning: A study of how mobile devices can facilitate sensemaking. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 14(2), 111-124. doi: 10.1007/s00779-009-0250-7

Smith, J. (2012). Mobile device use by Monash students and staff [Lecture notes]. Retrieved from

Note that use of lecture notes should normally be restricted to information that is not published or available elsewhere (e.g. your lecturer provides unpublished data) rather than as an alternative to finding the information in other sources.

Example of a numerical style

You may also see publications which use a numerical style, using only a number as the in-text citation and sorting the reference list in the order that each item was first cited i.e. items are assigned sequential numbers the first time they are cited, but the number is re-used if the same item is cited again later (in the example below, reference 2 is re-used, but a page number is added to locate the direct quote). The following references are made in IEEE style. IEEE is a numerical style used in electrical, electronic and computing publications.

Quinn [1] indicates that mobile devices are increasingly used for current awareness, and other sources indicate their use in education [2, 3]. Moreover, they can be “used to facilitate the switching between task-based and sensemaking activities” [2:122].


[1] C. N. Quinn, The mobile academy: mLearning for higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012.

[2] Y. Rogers, K. Connelly, W. Hazlewood, and L. Tedesco, "Enhancing learning: A study of how mobile devices can facilitate sensemaking," Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, vol. 14, pp. 111-124, 2010.

[3] J. Smith, Mobile device use by Monash students and staff, Lecture Notes, Melbourne: Monash University, 2012.

Getting started with APA style

Examples of in-text citations

A range of examples for in-text citations in APA 6th style is provided in the Library’s Citing and Referencing Guide.

Most of the examples in the above source are paraphrasing examples, but there are some examples for direct quotes under Citing specific parts of a source and Quote from an electronic source.

Examples of referencing common sources

Examples of using APA 6th style can be found on the Library’s Citing and Referencing Guide.

Advanced help with APA style

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (the authoritative APA manual).

Concise Rules of APA Style (an abbreviated version of the Publication Manual above).

APA Style help page of the American Psychological Association (responsible for the APA style)

(Note: may contain formatting instructions specific to APA publications, e.g. fonts, margins. Check with your lecturer for formatting instructions for your assignment).

Software to support citing and referencing

A range of software exists to help you with formatting your in-text citations and reference lists and managing your bibliographic information.

EndNote (for Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, OpenOffice/OpenLibre users)

The University recommends EndNote for citing and referencing support (on Mac OS X and Windows).

The Library holds EndNote classes at all campuses. In the class booking system, search using keyword endnote.

BibTex (for LaTex users)

If you are using LaTeX rather than Word to format your documents, these pages will be helpful:

The Library does not currently provide support for LaTex or BibTeX. In some cases, your supervisor may be able to assist. There are also active community self-support forums:

Note: EndNote can both export and import BibTeX files

Key databases and the export formats supported

Of the key databases in IT, ACM Digital Library, IEEE Xplore, Inspec (Engineering Village), and SpringerLink offer both BibTex export and EndNote export.

Computer Database, Expanded Academic ASAP, and ProQuest Computing offer EndNote export but do not offer BibTeX export.

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