Online College Courses for Credit

2 Tutorials that teach Basics of Source and Quote Formatting (APA)
Take your pick:
Basics of Source and Quote Formatting (APA)

Basics of Source and Quote Formatting (APA)

Author: Katherine Sutton
Understand how to reference and format author’s names, titles of works, direct quotations, and paraphrased or summarized material into the draft of an essay.
See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

37 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

299 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 33 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Video Transcription

Download PDF

Hi. My name is Katie. And today, we'll discuss the basics of source and quote formatting in APA style. In today's lesson, we'll begin by describing what I mean by source formatting, and we'll address how to both reference authors and their works in your text and also begin a discussion of how to incorporate the author's actual words. Next, we'll talk about how sources are cited in research essays by looking at a few examples. And then finally, we'll analyze how to vary the format of our cited material by covering block quoting, ellipses, and summarizing and paraphrasing.

Let's begin with the big picture. This tutorial will cover the basics of both referencing and quoting your sources. Referencing has to do with referring to authors and the titles of their work. And quoting is relating the author's statements or sentiments.

Let's begin with a discussion of referencing. It is incredibly common to refer to the author or the source title before you quote or explain their ideas in order to orient your reader and help prepare them for the information that you're about to deliver. The first time that you mention an author, like in this example here, you want to state the author's entire name.

This is just a sample. Edward Smith is a person that I made up. But even if he was a doctor or a mister, I still would not put that title in front of his name. You only want to put the author's first and last name. You don't need any other signifiers. If there were more than one author of this article, I would put them in the order that they were listed in the actual publication.

Once I mentioned this author, however, I can just refer to him in all subsequent mentions by his last name exclusively. Let's take a look at this here. According to researcher Edward Smith-- same as our sentence before-- authors who use graphic organizers during the pre-writing process write stronger essays. While this research is focused on primarily college-level writing, Smith hypotheses that further research into different age groups will yield similar results.

The content of this example is not important. What I really want you to look at is that first I mentioned the author's full name. And then in the subsequent mention, I just referred to him by his last name.

In the same way that it's very common to mention the name of an author in order to prepare your reader for the information that you're about to deliver, it's also very common to include the title of the text itself. In fact, you often do both of these when you're first introducing a work. Take a look at this example here.

When you're referencing just titles of articles or essays or a short story or a poem, you use quotation marks. That's these little marks around each end of the title of my hypothetical journal article here. However, if you're mentioning a journal, magazine, book, website, or film, you would italicize the titles like I did here with my hypothetical text, Research Essay Writing.

It's really easy to remember the difference between these two because you use italics if you're talking about the whole thing, a whole journal, a whole music album, a whole book. But you use just the quotation marks if you're talking about a single article, a single song, or a short story or a poem.

Once you've introduced the text that you're going to work with, you often want to take the author's actual words and sentiments from that source and insert them as supporting evidence into your own text. Today, we'll begin a discussion of quotations for less than 40 words, block quotations, which are quotes using more than 40 words, and generally how to summarize and paraphrase in order to spice up the way that you include your source information.

Let's begin with a discussion of how to quote sections of text that are less than 40 words. A quotation is text taken directly from a source for use in your essay or in any other piece of writing. A direct quotation should always include quotation marks at the start and end of each quote, like you can see in my example here.

After the closing quote mark, you need to include a parenthetical reference that gives brief bibliographic data that keeps with the assigned formatting style, which in this case is APA. Any other punctuation that goes with your sentence needs to go after this parenthetical reference. As you can see, I've placed the period for the end of my sentence here. Any information that comes before the quotation leading up to it should have either a comma or a colon before the quote.

While this example demonstrates using a comma before the quote and ending the sentence right after the quote, this next sentence is an example of how to incorporate a quote into the middle of your sentence. Here you see I introduced the quote with a statement, "because researchers agreed that," and then I give the quotation, and it's followed immediately by the bibliography information. Note here that the comma goes after the parentheses so that my sentence can continue on beyond the quotation.

Now let's address how to format quotes that are more than 40 words. This is called using block quotations. When you use block quotations, like in this example here, you want to make sure that you put the quotation into a line indented 1/2 an inch. You don't need to put quotation marks around this quoted material because the block itself is a visual cue that this is something that you pulled from the source text.

Like regular quotations, block quotations are followed by their bibliographic information. But unlike those shorter quotations, you want to put the ending punctuation within the block quotation and then follow it by the parentheses. And there's no punctuation needed after that.

I don't recommend that you ever end a paragraph with a quotation. So normally your block quotations will be found within a paragraph. See here how I have an introductory sentence. And then I set off my block quotation. And then it's followed by the rest of the paragraph, which is aligned with the left margin. There's no indentation there.

The next thing that we need to discuss is what's called an ellipses. If you need to take information either in a regular quotation or a block quotation, you can use this dot, dot, dot to indicate that information has been removed from your quotation. Ellipses are three periods in a row separated by spaces, and they indicate an absence. In APA format, there's no need to use ellipses at the start or end of a quotation even if it includes only part of a sentence. So you only want to use this when you're pulling something out of the middle of your quote.

Here's how it would look if we had pulled out information from our block quote from before. Let's imagine that right here the author details some information about the students that's not relevant to my own argument. I could pull out that information and give a space, period, space, period, space and then keep going on so that I can highlight the information from my source that is most relevant to my argument and not waste space in my essay.

Another way to cut down on quoted material that you're incorporating and to make sure to insert your voice into the text is to summarize or paraphrase the information that you want to address. When you're summarizing and paraphrasing, you still need to give bibliographic information, as you can see in this example here. And even though I give credit to Smith within my text, I don't have to use quotation marks, because I'm using my own words. I'm not taking his and inserting them into my essay.

It's also important to note that summaries and paraphrases never take block quote format. These are your words in your essay. So it will fit the format of the rest of your text.

In today's lesson, we discussed the basics of source and quote formatting for APA style. We began by discussing two ways that you incorporate sources in your text, referencing and quoting. And then we zoomed in on the concept of referencing and discussed how to cite both authors and text in the body of your essay. Finally, we took a preliminary view at quoting text less than 40 words, quoting text more than 40 words, and summarizing and paraphrasing to insert your own voice into the text.

I highly recommend that you address a formatting guide for any further questions, but I hope that this basic overview was helpful. Thank you very much for joining me today.