Introduction to citing and referencing
Why should I cite and reference?
Citing and referencing are essential to the academic integrity of your research and writing. They demonstrate that you have read widely and understood your topic; enable readers to verify your sources and find out more; and importantly, avoid plagiarism by acknowledging when you have used the ideas and words of others.
For out more about the importance of citing and referencing on the academic integrity website.
When do I need to reference?
You need to reference when you express an author’s ideas in your own words (paraphrasing), or when you directly quote their words. You also need to reference data and images you find in your sources.
You do not need to reference when you introduce, analyse, synthesise or conclude your ideas in your own words or refer to common knowledge in your area of study.
For more information, have a look at the Academic Skills Using Sources page.
What happens if I do not reference properly or do not reference at all?
You should always reference sources correctly and consistently, according to the referencing style rules, not only to get good marks but also to maintain academic integrity.
Refer to your assignment marking criteria to see if marks are assigned to referencing, and check with your lecturer if you are unsure.
Choosing a referencing style
Which referencing style should I use?
The University supports a range of referencing styles. Always check the subject guide, assignment instructions or contact your lecturer or tutor if you are unsure which style to use. If your lecturer doesn’t specify a style, it’s really important to consistently apply the style you select. If you have to use text citations, APA is a good choice, and if you have to use a footnoting style, Chicago A is recommended.
- In Re:cite, there are multiple templates across different style types for the source I am referencing. What should I do?
What is the difference between an in-text citation and a footnote?
Footnote citation styles require individually numbered footnotes at the bottom of the page for each citation and a bibliography at the end of the document. Referencing styles which use footnote citations include AGLC and Chicago A (Footnote and Bibliography).
In-text citation styles place citations within the text in brackets, with a reference list of all the sources you cited included at the end of your assessment item. Referencing styles which use in-text citations include APA, Chicago B and MLA.
What is the difference between a reference list and a bibliography?
A reference list is used with in-text referencing styles (e.g. APA). It includes the details of all the cited sources in alphabetical order by family name.
A bibliography is used with footnote referencing styles (Eg. Chicago A). It includes all the sources referred to and particularly relevant sources, even if they haven’t been referred to in your work, listed in alphabetical order by family name.
What are in-text referencing styles?
In-text referencing styles use citations throughout the text, usually in brackets at the end of, or within the sentence, where it is appropriate. They include the author's family name(s), year of publication, and a page number when directly quoting or pinpointing a source.
The full details of each source referred to are included in the reference list at the end of the work.
What are footnote/bibliographic referencing styles?
Footnote/bibliographic referencing styles have information identified by placing a superscript number at the end of the sentence that includes the direct quote or paraphrase. The number refers the reader to a footnote at the bottom of the page, which contains the details of the source. For examples, see Re:Cite – Chicago A Footnoting
Most styles also include an bibliography arranged alphabetically by family name including all works cited, plus any other works consulted but not cited.
What is a number referencing style?
Number referencing styles are characterised by references indicated in-text by superscript numbers, or numbers in brackets.
Each number corresponds to a particular source and refers to a list at the end of the paper. This list provides full details of the sources used, arranged in the order they first appear in the text. Vancouver style is the most widely used example of this style.
Creating your references
How do I find a DOI?
A DOI® (digital object identifier) is a unique number, that is assigned to identify a journal article, book chapter or data set, and provides a persistent link to its location on the Internet.
Should I add a DOI or URL in my reference?
Some reference styles require the DOI to be included, so it is best to understand the style requirements.
Including DOI in your reference list provides a direct and persistent link to the source, unlike URLs, which may expire.
If you are unable to find a DOI for a source, the URL will be sufficient.
Note - make sure you choose the right referencing template for DOI or URL links.
I can’t find the specific source in the style guide or on the Re:cite website. What should I do?
When you can't find how to cite or reference a specific resource in the style guide, or Re:Cite, you may have to use similar resource types for your referencing. There are general style notes for each reference style in Re:Cite which may help you format citations and references.
If you need help, check with your lecturer or tutor. You can also contact us through the library chat service.
Reference Management Software and support technologies
Should I do my references manually or use Reference Management Software?
Reference management software can make keeping track of your research easier, but it is not essential. Have a look at the Getting Started with Reference Management guide to choose which approach is right for you.
Which Reference Management Software should I use?
The University of Melbourne Library supports EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero.
Have a look at our Options for managing references guide to help you choose which one may be right for you.
You could also have a look at the guides for:
Using multilingual materials or quantitative formulas
If you are citing materials in multilingual materials or quantitative formulas such as those used in the sciences, social sciences disciplines, the LaTeX and BibTeX software might be useful. Have a look at the LaTeX and BibTeX guide.
For more advanced and complex referencing queries, you can book an email, phone or zoom consultation with your Subject Liaison Librarian.
What are citation generators?
Citation generators help you with the referencing process by generating references in your selected referencing style, which you can copy and paste into your bibliography or reference list.
It is important to understand the requirements of your style because citation generators are not always completely accurate.
You can find more information on citation generators in the Managing References guide.
Writing with references
What is the difference between direct quoting and paraphrasing? Should I use a direct quote or paraphrase?
A direct quote uses the exact words of the author to communicate an idea or argument. Paraphrasing is expressing the author's views or ideas in your own words. In both cases, you must provide citations.
You should use a direct quote only when the words of the author cannot be rephrased or when they illustrate your argument.
For more information about integrating sources in your writing, refer to Using sources in assessments: voice in academic writing.
Where can I receive additional support with citing and referencing?
Your lecturers and tutors will be the first point of contact for confirming specific referencing styles. Before selecting a referencing style, check with your tutor, lecturer or supervisor for the style preferred by the School or Department.
For general referencing help, ask a librarian through library chat or face to face at the information desk across our 11 libraries.
Help guides on specific referencing topics
- Options for managing references
- Reference Management Software libguides
- How to prepare an annotated bibliography
Require writing help with your referencing and citing?
How can I get advanced help with my referencing and citing?
Your lecturers and tutors are your first point of contact to guide you on choosing a specific referencing style. If you are unsure about which referencing style to use, check with your tutor, lecturer or supervisor for the style preferred by the Faculty, School or Department.
For general referencing help, ask a librarian through library chat or visit a library information desk.
For complex enquiries, graduate researchers and staff can book a research consultation with a librarian.