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Referencing for Business

Information for using APA style to reference sources in business writing.

The APA Style referencing guide has been designed to help you quickly identify how to create APA Style references for commonly used information sources:

Referencing can seem difficult and pointless, but it is an important academic skill to learn and one that is relatively easy to get the hang of. Good referencing can be the difference between a pass and fail, so we urge you to do your best and reach out for help as early as possible.

We are here to support you and to help you succeed!

MIT Library Team



Watch the video to learn about plagiarism and the basics of referencing in APA.

When should I reference

A comic panel from the website XKCD showing a person speaking on a stage in front of a crowd, with one audience member standing up holding a sign that reads "citation needed" in the format used by Wikipedia.
Fig.1. Wikipedian protester, by R. Munroe, n.d., retrieved from Used under Creative Commons A-NC 2.5 license.

We know that we should insert a reference when we use another person's:

  • words
  • ideas
  • facts, or
  • statistics

but what does that mean?

It means that when another person (like a lecturer or tutor) reads our work, they can ask "how do you know that?" and be pointed to the source of information that we used, as shown below.

Body of document

APA Style is an author-date system of referencing (American Psychological Association, 2009). In APA Style, in-text citations include the author's name and date (McAdoo, 2017), which point readers to the relevant reference list entry, ordered alphabetically. This is in contrast to IEEE Style, which is a numerical system that uses numbers in square brackets to perform the same function (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2018).


American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. (2018). IEEE Reference Guide. Retrieved from

McAdoo, T. (2017). References versus citations. Retrieved from

Munroe, R. (n.d.). Wikipedian protester. Retrieved from

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