Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
University of Newcastle Library guides

Quick Guide to Referencing: Referencing Basics

A quick referencing guide for Pathways & Learning Support students or anyone interested in common referencing style basics

1. Referencing basics

When researching for an assignment you use information from a number of sources:
  • books  
  • articles
  • websites
  • government reports

Different information sources (such as books, journal articles and web pages) require slightly different information to be referenced (also refered to as cited). 

You give credit to the original authors you've used by providing your sources.

View the pdf below for referencing basics

2. Why do we reference?

By referencing your sources you:

  • avoid plagiarism by giving credit to the original source.
  • support your work with the authoritative work of another author.
  • demonstrate knowledge and familiarity with the topic researched.
  • help readers of your work to find the original source of information or ideas that you used.


3. Four main elements of a reference

Four main elements of a citation

4. How are citations and references different?

You may hear both terms used and they may seem to be interchangeable.  The differences are as follows:


  • appear at the end of your essay
  • give credit to your sources
  • provide a way for your reader to retrieve the original sources that you used


  • appear in the body of your paper
  • point your reader to your references.
  • can also be called in-text citations.

5. What do we reference?

We reference any quoted text

  • Use quotation marks when directly using someone else’s words.

When paraphrasing a source or using someone else's idea in your writing, an in-text citation is required.

The in-text citation serves two purposes:

  1. It provides your reader with the source's name of the cited information that they may be interested in.
  2. Your readers know where they are to look in your reference list based upon the author's name.

6. What do we include in a reference?

Referencing basics: How do you do it? from the University of Ballarat highlights common elements found in all referencing styles.