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Frequently Asked Questions

Overview: any time you use another person's ideas in your work (paraphrasing, summarising, or quoting), use an in-text reference to indicate where those ideas have come from. The two main components of an in-text reference when paraphrasing and summarising are the author name(s) and the date. If you are directly quoting from the source, you must also enclose the quote in double quotation marks and include the page number.


  New to this Guide? Key Questions:

How do I reference a direct quote?

How many authors does the work have?

What if the author is an organisation?

What if there is no author identified?

What if there is no date given?

How do I show that the same information came from more that one source?

Can I use a source if I don't have the original but saw it reported in another work (a "source within a source")?

Main Elements


Bellen, L. (2016). Play - lost in transition? Teacher beliefs about pedagogic continuity across the transition to formal schooling (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ResearchOnline@ND database.


One author: Give the author's last name followed by the year.
Two authors: Give both names with "and" between them if you use the names in a sentence but put "&" between the names if they are enclosed in parentheses. Always use "&" in the reference list.
Three to five authors: Give all names in the first in-text citation but only the first name followed by "et al." for subsequent citations. 
Six or more authors: Give the name of the first named author only followed by "et al." for all in-text citations.
Two authors with the same surname: Use their initials with the surname in all citations.
More than one work by the same author in the same year: Where you cite an author who has published several items in a given year, identify each source with a letter (a, b, c, etc.) after the year. The letters follow the order in which the references appear in your reference list.

Organisational Author

Organisations as authors: If a company, institution, government body, religious organisation or other type of organisation is the author, use the organisation’s name as the author. If the organisation’s name is commonly abbreviated, use the full name in the first reference together with the abbreviation. In subsequent references, only the abbreviated form should be used.

No Author

No author: If an author's name is actually shown as "Anonymous", give Anonymous as the author's name. When no author is given (i.e. neither a personal nor organisation name and it is not shown as Anonymous), use the first few words of the title in italics for the in-text citation, and begin the reference in the reference list with the title.

More information:

No Date

No date: If no date is given but it is possible to estimate it, use “ca” (abbreviation of circa) followed by the year. If it is not possible to provide a reasonable estimate, use the abbreviation n.d. (no date).

Multiple Sources

More than one source in a reference: Place the author names in the order they appear in the reference list, and separate each reference with a semicolon.

Secondary Source

Secondary sources: Always try to locate the original source, rather than using a secondary reference. If you’re unable to do so, make it clear that you are not citing the original source, but are instead citing a work that has been cited by another. The reference list entry should show the source you have actually read - in the below example, it would be Bate in the reference list, not Somekh.

Dictionaries & Encyclopaedias

Encyclopaedia or dictionary entries: For encyclopaedia or dictionary entries without an author, cite the entry term, placed in quotation marks.


Short quotations: A short quotation (up to 40 words) is incorporated into your text and is enclosed in double quotation marks (“ ”). Always indicate the page number (or paragraph number if there are no page numbers) after a quote.
Long quotations: A long quotation of more than 40 words is presented in a block of text that is indented five to seven spaces from the left margin.