Referencing FAQ

Referencing is the process of citing or documenting the sources of quotes, theories, ideas, illustrations and diagrams that you have used in writing your university assignments. When we acknowledge sources in this way, we give credit to another person’s words, ideas or opinions in the form of a note and/or bibliographic reference or citation.

There are a number of reasons why you need to reference your work:

  • To show that relevant sources have been investigated
  • To enable the person reading our work to trace the original sources we have used
  • To provide documentary support for an argument
  • To give differing points of view of an argument
  • To indicate that we have not used someone else's ideas and claimed them as our own

Referencing your work adequately will ensure that you are not accused of plagiarism.

You must acknowledge (reference or cite) any work, or part of any work, that you quote, paraphrase, summarise or copy. You do not have to reference information that is considered general knowledge (e.g. that Wellington is the capital of New Zealand).

Different disciplines and subject areas have preferred formatting conventions for citing works and formatting references. These are referred to as citation styles or referencing styles. Some commonly used styles are APA, MHRA, MLA and Harvard.

Referencing styles fit into three main categories:

  • note system
  • author/date system
  • author /page system

Each style includes the same basic parts of a citation, but organises and formats them slightly differently. The style used depends on the subject you are working in. Visit your subject portal to find out what referencing style you should be using.

Using a consistent format helps the reader to properly identify and locate the works you cited. Being familiar with the conventions of the referencing style used in your course reading lists will also make it easier to search the Library catalogue for these readings, because the formatting will enable you to recognise which part of the citation should be entered for a title search.

You can access physical style manuals at the Library. While some copies are available for issue, others are reference books that must remain in the Library.

The library also has a selection of guides for a range of referencing styles. See Referencing Styles for a list of available style guides and examples.

Some referencing styles will also have an official online guide. Try searching in google.

Yes. Go to Referencing Styles and select the style you want an example sheet for to see if one is available.

There is a number of ways you can ask for help with APA. You can:

There is 24/7 APA Referencing help available. Visit:

  • The Library's APA Referencing Style Guide covers the fundamentals of APA, provides common examples and has links to the Library's APA Quick Guide and comprehensive APA style guides
  • APA video guides on the Library YouTube channel
  • The APA Referencing FAQs in the Virtual Reference Desk (VeRD) via Moodle. The advice and examples in VeRD are in response to real student queries.

Also, the Library teaches tutorials on APA Referencing. See Library Tutorials for more information.

If you are a psychology student and need to format your whole document, see your Academic Liaison Librarian for help.

There is quite a range of referencing management available to help you manage and format your references. Most of the more extensive applications require some form of installation on your computer or device.

The Library supports the following software:

There are a number of free tools available to help format your references, but you have to remember that some will do a better job than others. It's up to you to double check that your references are formatted correctly before handing in your assignment. Here are some examples: