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School for Professional Studies: APA Format & Plagiarism

This Guide was created specifically for students enrolled in the School for Professional Studies (SPS) at Centenary University.

Where can I find APA citation help?

Use Purdue University's online citation guide

The Purdue Online Writing Lab is an excellent resource for writing APA citations. It gives you information on how to do in-text citations, how to format your quotes, and how to cite different sources on your References page.

It is important to remember that the source type does not have to exactly match your own. We provide citations so that readers can find the sources and evidence that we use. Citation styles offer guidelines for you to provide the best possible information for someone to find your article, but they cannot account for all types of sources.

Use the print copy of the APA style guidelines (we recommend purchasing a copy)

​Online guides like Purdue University are often not as comprehensive as the print editions of the official APA manuals. There are copies available at the Circulation Desk but we highly recommend purchasing your own copy. It is a resource you will likely reference again and again.

Citing an Unusual or Uncommon Source

Sometimes you will use a source that does not match perfectly with any of the descriptions you find in citation guides. For example, you may want to cite a letter written by one historical figure to another, but you cannot find that source type in the guide for your citation style.

Find the closest matching citation for APA. The most important thing to understand with citations is that you are trying to let your reader know where you found your sources so that they can look them up. Find the citation that most closely matches your source type and then use that citation as a guideline for how to craft your own. Make sure you put in enough information for someone to find your exact source in the exact place you found it.

Is there a citation generating tool I can use?

Is there a Citation Generating Tool I can Use?

Use citation options in the databases

​Many databases will have a 'Cite' option on individual item pages that generates citations for the most common citation styles. Always be sure to double check the citation, however. Capitalization, for example, is not always correct in these citations depending on how the title is stored in the database.

There are also citation generating tools or machines available for free on the web. Be careful when utilizing these services and always double check the generator's final outcome!

"Zotero is a free, open-source research tool that helps you collect, organize, and analyze research and share it in a variety of ways. Zotero includes the best parts of older reference manager software — the ability to store author, title, and publication fields and to export that information as formatted references — and the best aspects of modern software and web applications, such as the ability to organize, tag, and search in advanced ways. Zotero interacts seamlessly with online resources: when it senses you are viewing a book, article, or other object on the web, it can automatically extract and save complete bibliographic references. Zotero effortlessly transmits information to and from other web services and applications, and it runs both as a web service and offline on your personal devices."

"EasyBib is a citation generator tool which can also allow users to create a personal database of bibliographic references and automatically format a bibliography with citations in APA or MLA style.
With a free student account you can:
-Save Unlimited Citations
-Automatically create citations for 22 source types
-Cite up to 56 Source Types!"



Avoiding plagiarism means giving any ideas that are not your own proper attribution. If you did not come up with the idea or it is not common knowledge (ex: the location of cities, the years of a president's term), you either cite the idea or you do not use the idea.

When it comes to sources that you find while doing research, you must always cite the source every time that you use it, even if you are not quoting directly from the source.

If there are people contributing ideas to your work who are not supposed to, this is plagiarism. Unless you are working on a group assignment where each person is listed as the author of the paper, no other students or people you know should be contributing ideas to your assignment. If there is someone who you are taking ideas from that you would not feel comfortable citing, do not use these ideas. 


​Quotations are used when a statement from a source cannot be rephrased. The author may be using particular language that would lose some of its meaning if put into different words. The statement may lose its power or impact when rephrased. 

You often provide a citation after the quote in parenthesis. You can also cite the source in an introductory phrase, although sometimes you still need to provide the page number after the quote.


​The alternative to quoting a source is to put statements from the source into your own words. This does not mean that you are just changing around a few words or replacing everything with synonyms. You are synthesizing information from the source for your own purposes.

One of the benefits of paraphrasing is that it can be done more efficiently than quoting--you can provide more information with less space. While you must always be clear that you are not manipulating another author's words or leaving out an important element, you can paraphrase longer quotations in the article by breaking it down to the essentials.

You always need to cite the source at the end of your paraphrasing. You still need an in-text citation even if you do not quote the source.