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APA style referencing for complete beginners

Get better marks and succeed with solid referencing
4.9 (6 ratings)
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11 students enrolled
Created by Luc Brien
Last updated 8/2016
English English
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  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 1 Supplemental Resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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Welcome to APA Style Referencing for complete beginners. This course is intended to get new college or university students familiar with the basics of APA Style referencing, including:

  • identifying necessary information,
  • creating in text citations,
  • formatting reference lists, and
  • working within APA's rules to get referencing right the first time.

This course is built around my Four Ws framework of Who, When, What, and Where. Working with this structure, we'll start with some basic information about why referencing is important, and how to differentiate between sources, citations, and reference lists, then move on to step-by-step creation of references and citations.

Who is the target audience?
  • This is for students who need a crash course (or a refresher) in APA Style referencing
  • This course does not cover using APA Style for writing. It is just for referencing.
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What Will I Learn?
Learn how to create solid and complete reference list entries and in text citations according to APA Style.
View Curriculum
  • A word processor (MS Word, Libre Office, Google Drive) will be useful for practicing, but is not strictly necessary.
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 20 Lectures Collapse All 20 Lectures 52:10
Module 1: Introduction to APA Style
3 Lectures 15:32

Welcome to referencing according to the American Psychological Association's Publication Manual, also known as APA Style! This introductory lesson will cover what APA Style is, how it works, and the basics of referencing and avoiding intellectual theft (plagiarism).

By the end of this video, students will understand the purpose of APA Style, and be ready to jump into mastering their referencing.

Preview 04:00

This lesson outlines using sources in our writing, giving explanations of the differences between references and citations. On completion of this lesson, students will be getting a feel for how sources are used in a text, and they should understand how an in-text citation differs from a reference list entry.

Preview 07:15

This lesson introduces students to the four basic building blocks of a reference: authors, dates, titles, and retrieval information, or who, when, what, and where respectively. Students should be able to identify the individual parts

Anatomy of a reference: The four Ws

A quiz about Module 1

Module 1 Quiz
5 questions
Module 2: Who
6 Lectures 12:25

This lesson introduces students to a variety of content creators and how to identify them across a range of source types.

Who: Authors and creators

Covers how to write reference list entries for sources with one or two authors.

One or two authors

Covers how to write reference list entries for sources with three to five authors.
Three, four, or five authors

Covers how to write reference list entries for sources with six or seven authors.

Six or seven authors

Covers how to write reference list entries for sources with eight or more authors.
Eight or more authors

'Et al.' is a phase that gets bandied about a lot in academic writing. This lesson focuses on how to use it correctly according to APA Style rules.

A note on using 'et al.'

Module 2 quiz
5 questions
Module 3: When
3 Lectures 04:42

Once we know who our authors are, we need to provide a date of publication. Here's how to identify and use them to correctly cite and reference our work.

When: Dates

When referencing news articles, special rules apply for the giving the date.

Dates for news articles

Sometimes a source doesn't include a publication date. This video covers what to do if we are unable to find a date, yet still want to use that source.

What if there's no date?

Module 3 quiz
2 questions
Module 4: What
2 Lectures 05:50

APA Style has rules for how to format different types of source document. This lecture introduces, and explains the three broad title formats.

What: Document titles

Documents with editors can be a bit tricky. Editors usually appear in the middle of a reference, and this video explains how that works.


Module 4 quiz
5 questions
Module 5: Where
5 Lectures 08:52

After we've given our readers the author, the date, and the document title, we need to give them one more thing: the place we got it from. This is so they can look at exactly the same source and information that we used.

Where: Retrieval information

Referencing journal article retrieval information can be tricky. This video breaks down the different elements, and how to format each.


This lecture explains how book publication and retrieval information is formatted in our reference lists.


This lecture explains how to reference the retrieval information for basic web content.

Web content

What is a URL, and what is a DOI? How do we use them in our references? This video has the answers.

URLs and DOIs

Module 5 quiz
4 questions
Module 6: Conclusion
1 Lecture 04:49

Congratulations on making it to the end of the course! This video has some exercises to get you ready for the final exam.
Working with the four Ws, you should be well on your way to building large and complex reference lists and citations quickly and independently.

Putting it all together

Final Exam
20 questions
About the Instructor
4.9 Average rating
6 Reviews
11 Students
1 Course

Hi there. I'm Luc (pronounced "Luke"), and I'm a librarian from Melbourne, in Australia. I love working with people and technology to help the two interact better, and I run a couple of information literacy projects over social media.

I'm really excited to be able to share my knowledge of information and digital literacy with the world through Udemy, and I'm looking forward to working with - and learning from - people from all walks of life.

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