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How to Cite Sources Properly
June 13, 2023

This week’s blog was contributed by Erika Thompson, PAR’s managing production editor. It is the second in a series on writing. Catch up on the first part here

As a mental health practitioner, you are required to write throughout your career. One way you can streamline your writing is by using a style guide. At PAR, the house style we use for all our publications is based on American Psychological Association (APA) Style. Via the PAR Blog, we’re providing some useful information about facets of APA Style that will help you tackle research, write better reports, and communicate more effectively with colleagues. 

This week, we’re covering how to cite sources properly. According to APA (2020): “Scientific knowledge represents the accomplishments of many researchers over time. A critical part of writing in APA Style is helping readers place your contribution in context by citing the researchers who influenced you” (p. 253). In other words, citing helps readers better understand what led to your conclusions. It also prevents you from accidentally plagiarizing someone else’s work. It’s important to cite both ideas, which may be paraphrased from someone else’s work, and direct quotes. 

Two elements are needed to cite properly: a short mention of the author and date of publication, or in-text citation, which appears within the text at the appropriate and relevant place; and a reference list entry, which expands on the citation by including the title, the source, and sometimes a link to locate the work. 

In-text citations can be narrative or parenthetical. In a narrative citation, the author and date are mentioned as part of the running text: “In 2010, Costa and McCrae published new normative data on the NEO.” In a parenthetical citation, the author and date are mentioned in parentheses: “New normative data on the NEO are also available (Costa & McCrae, 2010).” 

Reference list entries vary in format based on the type of publication, but generally the author is mentioned first, with the date of publication, title, and source following. Use a 0.5-in. hanging indent to format each entry—that is, indent the second and any subsequent lines. 

In some instances, it may be hard to figure out which reference entry format to use. The most recent edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association provided much-needed guidance on how to cite a test and how to cite a variety of different websites: 


Feifer, S. G., & Clark, H. K. (2016). Feifer Assessment of Mathematics (FAM): Professional manual. PAR. 

(Note that the “supporting literature” [i.e., the manual; APA, 2020, p. 340] is cited versus the test itself, the title of the test is capitalized and italicized, and the publisher location is not mentioned.) 

Online magazine or newspaper article 

Bourke, J., & Titus, A. (2019, March 29). Why inclusive leaders are good for organizations, and how to become one. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2019/03/why-inclusive-leadersare-good-for-organizations-and-how-to-become-one 

Website article 

Gupta, G. (2016, September 4). Empowering leadership. People Matters. https://www.peoplematters.in/blog/leadership/empowering-leadership-14014 

(Note that established newspaper and magazine titles are italicized, whereas for websites that don’t have a publication associated with it, the title of the article is italicized.) 

A recent APA blog post explained how to cite ChatGPT. Because the results of the chat cannot be retrieved by others, communications are considered to be the output of the ChatGPT algorithm, and OpenAI is considered to be the “author” of the algorithm. Thus, each communication should be explained very clearly in text and cited as such: 

OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com/chat The in-text citation is (OpenAI, 2023). 


The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association covers many, many more types of sources, including journal articles, books, audiovisual media, and social posts. 

Curious about how we keep track of references to our products? Check out our white paper on Zotero, which includes links to product-specific, continually updated, easy-to-access bibliographies. 

Interested in partnering with PAR for research or publishing? Visit our Partner with PAR page to learn more. 



American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000 

McAdoo, T. (2023, April 7). How to cite ChatGPT. APA Style. https://apastyle.apa.org/blog/how-to-cite-chatgpt