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LANG 1002 - English for University Studies I : Cite Sources

Why Cite?

Some Reasons Why Scholars Cite  1

  1. To persuade ("...persuasion by argument, buttressed by support from authoritative papers in the field") . 2
  2. To embody concepts or methods (rather than describing how to determine a protein, I cite the paper that tells you this, and move with my own addition to knowledge).
  3. To provide credibility (they allow the reader to check the evidence and chain of logic themselves).
  4. To give credit for ideas and show the reader where to go for a further elaboration
2. Ibid. p. 389

Note: You need to cite sources in your writing if you use someone else's ideas, data, methodologies, illustrations, etc.; it does not matter what format they are in.

What is a Citation?

So, what is a citation? Click "Start" to find out.

Learn How to Cite APA Style:

APA Style Basics

You are required to use APA citation style for the LANG 1002 essay. APA stands for American Psychological Association, this style is widely used in the field of psychology and social sciences.

In-Text Reference

  • If the author can be identified, write the author's surname (family name, last name, ) and publication year in brackets:
    Photography provides the model for modern technoscientific vision (Garlick, 2009), ...

  • If the author can't be identified, write the first few words of the article title and the year, use double quotation marks around the title:
    A smartphone might consume up to 15Mbps downstream ("Can can you," 2013)...

End-of-paper References

  • Include all sources you have cited (make in-text reference to), except personal communications, in your paper
  • General format:
    Author surname, Initials. (Year). Article title. Magazine title, volume no. (issue no.), page range.

    Author surname, Initials. (Year). Article title. Newspaper title, page number.
    If the author can't be identified, article title will come first. 
    Precede page numbers for newspaper articles with p. or pp.
  • Sources should be listed in alphabetical order
  • Examples:


Can can you you hear hear me me now now? (2013, April 13). Retrieved from

Garlick, S. (2009). Given time: Biology, nature and photographic vision. History of the Human Sciences, 22(5), 81-101.

Kelly, M. (2013). Living in an era of technology revolution. Electronics World, 119(1924), 42-43.


Citation Tools

Free online tools to help create citations in different formats.

Subscription-based advanced tool available to all HKUST staff & students, has a plug-in for MS Word.

How to Cite?

If, for example, you want to cite this article in your paper to support your argument, you should:

  1. Make an in-text reference within your writing:
    .. Smart clothing technologies may include printed sensors able to monitor a wearer’s well-being or detect dangerous chemicals in the environment (Excell, 2013), ...

  2. Include complete details about the article in the references section at the end of your paper:
    Excell, J. (2013, April 8). Smart dressing. Retrieved from

What about indirect sources?

For example, you read about Smith's idea (or research findings) in Nicholson's paper and you did not read Smith's article yourself. In this case, you CANNOT cite a source that you have not read, so you need to indicate that the information is obtained from a secondary source:

  1. List the source you have read (Nicholson's paper) in the reference list, and
  2. Make an in-text citation such as
    • Smith's survey (as cited in Nicholson, 2003) showed ...
    • According to Nicholson (2003), Smith's survey says ...


What about personal communications?

Personal communications may be private letters, memo, electronic communications (e.g. e-mail), personal interviews, telephone communications, etc. Because they are not considered recoverable data, so personal communications are not required in the reference list, but you have to cite personal communications within the text. Give the initials, follow by the surname (family name, last name, 姓) of the communicator, and provide the exact date as possible.

In-text Reference = (T.W. Lau, personal communication, September 2, 2012)

See A Guide to Good Referencing Skills for more tips on how to paraphrase and summarize sources.

Citation Styles

  • There are several common citation styles (standard formats for listing references). Style varies across disciplines. Ask your instructor which style s/he prefers.
  • In general, references of periodical articles should have these elements:
    • Author(s) - who wrote it
    • Title - what the article is called
    • Source - title of the periodical or larger work it appeared in
    • Volume & Issue numbers
    • Publication date
    • Page numbers
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