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Need help with referencing styles? Start with this helpful guide.

Getting started

This guide shows you how to reference at ACU. It contains lots of examples of references and how to use them in your assessments.

You can further develop your understanding of referencing, academic integrity and academic writing by:

Referencing styles

Contact the Library to report any problems with this referencing guide.

What, why and when of referencing

What is referencing?

Every source of information or idea that is not your own must be acknowledged in your writing. Referencing or citing the information is a way to acknowledge the original authors of the sources you have used.

Why reference?

  • To provide evidence to support your argument
  • To allow the reader to locate and verify the sources you have referred to
  • To protect you from accusations of plagiarism
  • To demonstrate your wide reading and research

When to reference: four questions to ask yourself

Question Answer Action
Are you using someone else's ideas, theories, or images? Yes Cite it
Are you quoting an author's words directly? Yes Place double quotation marks (") around the text and cite it
Are you paraphrasing or putting an idea into your own words? Yes Cite it
Are you using information that is considered common knowledge? (e.g. Canberra is the capital of Australia or the sun sets in the west) Yes No need to cite it

Tips for using referencing software

Tip 1

Reference management software such as Zotero, Mendeley and EndNote can generate references automatically in a chosen referencing style. To ensure that references are cited correctly it is recommended you have a good understanding of a style before using this type of software. The best way to become familiar with a style is to refer to the published style manual available in the relevant Library referencing guide.

Tip 2

If you are an undergraduate and have never used a reference management system, it is recommended you use Zotero or Mendeley. They are easy to learn and are perfect for assessment tasks and small research projects.

  • Refer to the Library's self-directed guides for help: Zotero or Mendeley.

If you are a researcher or a postgraduate student working with large documents, e.g., a thesis, it is recommended that you use EndNote. It is harder to learn initially and best suited to users comfortable with reference management software.

  • Refer to the Library's guide for detailed help: EndNote

Tip 3

Other tools are available to generate a reference automatically. Always check the reference matches the relevant examples in the Library's Referencing guide or published style manual. Examples of tools are:

  • Library search. Look for the double quotations "" at the top right of a search result.
  • Library databases. Some databases have a 'Cite' option for a search result.
  • Google Scholar. Look for the 'Cite' option below the search result.