How to reference

You need to use the APA 7 system of referencing for your Open Polytechnic assessments. This means including a reference list and in-text citations to acknowledge where your information came from. These follow a specific style and format.

This page includes some examples and tips for:

  • how to include in-text citations for quotes and paraphrases, and how to summarise
  • how this relates to your reference list.
  • tools you can use to help with your referencing.

For more detailed information and examples, use our Guide to APA referencing.

Quick referencing APA guidelines (PDF 47 KB; opens in a new window)

Guide to APA referencing (PDF 395.11 KB; opens in a new window)

For more about the differences between references and in-text citations see the Referencing and plagiarism page.

Tip – Assessment marks may be awarded for referencing so be sure to check.


Using information from other sources

You must reference any source you refer to in your assessment, i.e. ANY words, ideas, images or information taken from ANY source requires a reference.

There are three ways to include information from other sources in your assessments:

  • Quotations (also called a quote or direct quote) – when you use the exact words from the original source without making any changes.
  • Paraphrasing – when you re-phrase information into your own words, while keeping the essential ideas of the original source.
  • Summarising – when you sum up a longer piece of work in your own words, focusing on the author’s main points.

For all three you need to reference the source using the two parts to APA referencing: an in-text citation each time you refer to the source within your assessment, and a full reference to the source on your references list at the end of your assessment.


Generally, you should use quotations sparingly. You are usually encouraged to try and paraphrase as much as possible.

Use them for:

  • exact definitions
  • when you want to show an author’s exact position, or
  • when it’s too difficult to paraphrase a short technical statement.

It's always good to back up the quote with examples or discussion.

There are two types of quotes, long quotes and short quotes. Each has different formatting:

  • a short quote should contain fewer than 40 words.
  • a long quote, also called a block quote, is for 40 words or more.

Short quote

Here's an example of a short or direct quote. In the in-text citation notice the page number in the direct quote and the punctuation.

Long quote

A long quote, also called a block quote, is for quotes of 40 words or more. In the example below notice that:

  • the quote is not placed in quotation marks; instead it is dropped to the next line and indented
  • the page number is included after the quote.


Paraphrasing is when you rewrite something in your own words, without changing the original meaning. It is often preferred over quoting in an assessment as it shows your understanding of the ideas of the author.

Tips for paraphrasing:

  • make sure you understand the meaning of the text you are paraphrasing
  • write the main ideas in your own words. Try doing this without looking at the text
  • check what you write against the original to ensure you have the meaning right
  • when necessary, highly technical or specialised words can be included as a partial quote (enclosed in quotation marks) within your paraphrase. If you do, remember to include a page number.

When you paraphrase it is also important to specify where you got your information. For example:



Summarising is when you write a brief overview of a longer piece of work in your own words. This could be a book, chapter or article. Summaries are much shorter than the original text, but include the author’s main points. Below is an example of an article summary:

Malcolm, J. (2018). The importance of “maths talk” in early childhood. Young Learners, 9(12). 33-35.

In this article, Jennifer Malcolm discusses the role early childhood carers can play in helping young children develop their mathematical knowledge. She cites several studies which show that regular use of mathematical language by a carer, integrated into the day, provides children with a way to both express and further their own knowledge of mathematical concepts. Along with specific number vocabulary, Malcolm suggests key strategies for carers to use with young children including connection making, discussion, comparison and prediction.

Like quotes and paraphrasing they must be attributed to the original author.


How the reference list and in-text citations connect

The diagram below shows how the reference list and in-text citations connect:

  • the highlighted parts in the top section are the in-text citations
  • the arrows highlight where that information comes from in your reference list, in the bottom section.


Strategies to help you include in-text citations

Reporting words and linking or transition words are important techniques to use when adding in-text references to your writing. 

Reporting words

Reporting words can show an author’s point of view or position on a topic. Here’s some examples of how you might use a reporting word, when referring to someone else’s work:

  • According to Grady et al. (2019), emotions are
  • Peart (2018) argues that …

Here are a range of reporting words that you might like to try:

  • According to
  • Assert(s)
  • Argue(s)
  • Address(es)
  • Claim(s)
  • Conclude(s)
  • Define(s)
  • Establish(ed)
  • Found/finds
  • Maintain(s)
  • Mention(s)
  • Outline(s)
  • Predict(s)
  • Promote(s)
  • Report(s)
  • Show(s)
  • State(s)
  • Suggest(s)


Linking words

Here is a range of linking words you might like to try.


  • Firstly, secondly, thirdly
  • In addition
  • Furthermore
  • Another
  • Also
  • Finally.


  • In addition
  • Furthermore
  • And
  • As well as
  • Also
  • Too.


  • For example
  • For instance
  • That is to say
  • Such as
  • Including
  • Namely.

Tip – The more you use linking words, the better you will become at writing.


Do you need more help with referencing?

If you need more help with referencing, there are a few options you could use.

Contact our Library & Learning Centre

If you want to talk to someone to get help with referencing, contact the Library & Learning Centre | Te Whare Pukapuka Wāhanga Whakpakari Ako. Whether it’s all new to you or you are confident and need some help to reference something a little different, get in touch:

Also see the Library & Learning Centre's page on APA referencing.

Study Toolkit

The Study Toolkit (available on your iQualify dashboard) has lots of information on referencing, quoting & paraphrasing and plagiarism.

Other online resources

There are a lot of helpful online resources, so if you’re happy to check things out for yourself.

  • You could visit the Scribbr website. It has a couple of awesome tools:
    • Citation Generator will show you how to create your first reference list and in-text citation
    • Plagiarism Checker produces a report on the similarity score of your assessment. It shows where you have sourced your information from, and you can quickly see if it’s been properly referenced. Once you fix any incorrectly referenced items run the report again to check if you a have achieved a lower similarity score.
  • is an online website with an easy-to-use grammar checker.
  • You could also check out Massey University’s interactive referencing guide.