How to quote correctly: All information on citation styles & source references at a glance

Written by Kerstin Lakits, Oct 19, 2023

Your first academic or seminar paper is coming up, maybe you are already working on your bachelor or master thesis. No matter which kind of academic paper you’re writing, quoting is an essential part of any scientific work and the groundwork for academic writing. Citing and quoting correctly is key! Sometimes the different guidelines can be confusing; therefore, we’ve created a simple guide to give you an overview of the most common citation rules. This way you’ll always quote correctly!

What is a quotation & why is correct citing important?

A quote is a literal or in terms of content copied text passage from another academic work and refers to this external textual source. This basically means that you have to indicate every thought, theory or statement that isn’t yours as a quote. Quoting and citing is essential in academic writing because it allows your readers to retrace your train of thoughts, find and read the sources you used.

Types of sources: Books, Internet sources & more

There are many different kinds of sources and how to cite them correctly depends heavily on the type of source. Therefore, we will show you a few sources that are used a lot for quotations and citations.

  • monographic bookis a scientific solo work. So, there is one book on a specific topic.
  • An edited bookis a collaboration of a few scientists that write articles for an overarching topic. Usually one or two editors publish the book under their names.
  • journalis a periodical scientific journal, in which scientists of a field publish studies, analysis and articles.
  • Online sources are not a separate kind of source and are not very welcome in scientific work. If you find one of the above-mentioned sources, you can still use it because you will apply the citation guidelines and then add the hyperlink or DOI.

Types of quotations: Quotations vs. Citations

There are two ways of referencing ideas of a third party, which must be signalled differently according to the citation style you use. So, first we will explain the differences between quotations and citations. You will find concrete examples for each citation style in the according section.


If you quote a passage, then you copy the text word for word from a different academic work. You have to mark this literal quote with quotation marks. If the quotation has more than 40 words, then it has to be formatted as a block quotation. Depending on the citation style, you have to indent the quote some centimetres and this way the quotation is optically different from the rest of the text.


Citations use the content from another academic work. So, you don’t use the same exact words, but explain the content in your own words. Citations, also called paraphrases, don’t require quotation marks, but you have to refer to the source.

Types of references: Where to properly place the quotation?

There are two types of references, namely in-text citations and references for the reference list. In-text citations are used to indicate the source of a quotation or citation. In the reference list, you name all the bibliographic information for every academic work that you used in your paper. This way, anyone who reads your paper can understand where you used which sources and which academic works they are.

In-text citations

In your text, you mark quotations and citations with so-called in-text citations. These in-text citations allow your readers to understand where you got that passage from and to find your sources in the references list. In-text citations vary according to the citation style. We will explain in-text citations for the APA method, the Harvard style and Chicago Manual of Style later on.


The references list is placed at the end of your work and lists all the sources you used in alphabetical order by author. You include all the bibliographic information (authors, title, year of publication, publisher, publisher’s city; possibly editors, journal, anthology, hyperlink, DOI) of each source. In the according sections, we will show you what references should look like in the APA method, the Harvard style or Chicago Manual of Style.

Quotation within a quotation

A quotation within a quotation means that the passage you are quoting already contains a quote. You need to quote the passage as usual with quotation marks (“”) and an in-text citation (according to the citation style). The quote within your passage must be marked with single quotation marks (‘’). The in-text citation for the quote within the quote is already included in the passage. Here is an example:

“You must always indicate all your sources correctly, even if you use an ‘indirect citation’ (Kaspar, 1999) in your text.” (Hauser, 2001)

Secondary referencing: indirect citation

Secondary referencing means that you do not cite the primary source, but a secondary source that cites the primary source. For example: You are reading a work by Smith 2020, who cites Johnson 2019. You want to use Johnson’s idea that Smith talks about without having to read Johnson’s book. Then you can cite Johnson’s ideas in Smith’s book by adding “as cited in” to the in-text citation. It should be: Johnson 2019 as cited in Smith 2020.

Attention: All citation guides and academic institutions caution you to use indirect citation sparingly. You should only use them if the source is no longer in print, unavailable or in a language you don’t understand.

Common citation styles: APA, Harvard & Chicago Manual of Style

There are many different citations styles published by universities and institutions. Many faculties and university centres follow the most common citation styles with small changes or special requirements. Therefore, you should find out which citation rules are used in your field of study and follow those. Nevertheless, we will show you the three most important citation styles – namely the APA method, the Harvard style and the Chicago Manual of Style – so that you can get a good picture of how it should look.

STUWO tip: We recommend you ask your teacher or supervisor which citation style you should use in your work before you start your writing project.

APA style

Originally developed for academic papers in the field of psychology, the citation style of the American Psychology Association (APA) is used in many different fields and is one of the most common citation styles.

In your text, you use parenthetical citations to refer to the source. It doesn’t matter what kind of source it is. The author’s surname and the year of publication are sufficient for citations. For quotations you need to add the page number. In the reference list, you have to identify the type of source and adapt the citation style accordingly.

SourceIn-text (citation)In-text (quotation)Reference (reference list)
Book, monography(Last name, year of publication)(Last name, year of publication, page number)Last name, Initials (publication year). Title. Subtitle. (edition). Publisher.
Chapter or part of an edited book(Last name, year of publication)(Last name, year of publication, page number)Last name, initials (publication year). Title. Subtitle. In: editor’s initial and last name (Ed.), Title of the book (pages). Publisher.
Journal article(Last name, year of publication)(Last name, year of publication, page number)Last name, initials (publication year): Title. Name of the journal, volume number (issue), page number. DOI

Here are some examples:

  • Reference (reference list): Thaine, Craig (2012). Cambridge Academic English (1st ed.). Klett.
  • In-text (quotation): (Thaine, 2012, p.13)
  • In-text (citation): (Thaine, 2012)

Harvard Citation Style

The Harvard citation style, also called American citation style, is a widespread citation style. It is mainly used in economic and social studies as well as in the Anglo-American community.

In your text, you indicate all types of sources in parenthesis. For citations, you need to mention the author’s name and year of publication. For quotes, you additionally indicate the page number. In your list of references, you need to differentiate between the types of sources and adapt the reference.

SourceIn-text (citation)In-text (quotation)Reference (reference list)
Book, monography(Last name publication year)(Last name publication year: page number)Last name, Initial(s). (year of publication) Title of the book. Edition. Place of Publication: Publisher.
Chapter or part in an edited book(Last name publication year)(Last name publication year: page number)Chapter Author Surname, Initial(s). (Year) ‘Title of chapter’, in Editor(s) Surname, Editor(s) Initial. (ed. or eds.) Title of book. Edition (if not first). Place of publication: Publisher, Page numbers.
Journal article(Last name publication year)(Last name publication year: page number)Author of article Surname, Initial(s). (Year) ‘Title of article’, Title of Journal, Volume(Issue), Page range.

You can also implement the reference into your text by using the author as a subject: Author (publication year: page number) says…

If there are two authors in a book, you mention both with / or &.  For example: (Last name / last name publication year: page number) or Last name, first name / last name, first name (publication year), title, edition, publication place.

If there are more than two authors, you only list the first author and then write “et al”.

Here is an example:

  • Reference (list of references):Thaine, Craig (2012), Cambridge Academic English. 1st ed. Vienna.
  • In-text (citation): (see Thaine 2012)
  • In-text (quote): (Thaine 2012: p.15)

Chicago Manual of Style: “Notes and Bibliography” and “Author-Date”

The Chicago Manual of Style offers two different citation styles, namely the notes and bibliography system and the author-date style. We will show you how to use both styles.

The notes and bibliography system is often used in the humanities, inter alia literature, history and the arts. This style uses numbered footnotes or endnotes and includes a separate bibliography at the end of the text. This citation style’s advantage is that it accommodates a wide variety of sources and does not disrupt the text with in-text citations.

SourceNoteShortened noteBibliography
Book, monography1 First Name Last Name, Title (in italics) (city of publication: publishing company, year of publishing), page(s).2 Last Name, Title (in italics), PagesAuthor last name, first name. Title of Book. Place of publication: publisher, year.
Chapter or part in an edited book1 First Name Last Name, “Title of the chapter”. In Title of the edited book (in italics), edited by first and last name, pages. City of publication: publishing company, year of publishing.2 Last Name, “Title”, PagesLast Name First Name. “Title of the chapter”. In Title of the edited book, edited by first and last name, pages. City of publication: publishing company, year of publishing.
Journal article1 First Name Last Name, “Title of the article”, Title of the journal (in italics), issue number, volume number (month year): pages.2 Last Name, “Title”, PagesAuthor first name last name, “Title of Article,” Name of Journal volume, no. issue (month and year): page number(s). DOI if applicable.

The author-date citation style is more common in the sciences and social sciences. This system relies on in-text citations with the author’s name and year of publication in parenthesis, which then refer to the source with all its bibliographic information in the reference list.

SourceIn-text (citation)In-text (quotation)Reference (reference list)
Book, monography(Last name year of publication)(Last name year of publication, pages)Last name, first name. Year of Publication. Title of Book. Place of publication: publisher.
Chapter or part in an edited book(Last name year of publication)(Last name year of publication, pages)Last name, first name. Publication year. “Title. Subtitle”. In Title of the book edited by first and last name, Pages. Publisher’s place: publisher.
Journal article(Last name year of publication)(Last name year of publication, pages)Last name, first name. Year. “Title of Article”. Name of Journal volume, no. issue (month and year): page number(s). DOI if applicable.

Overview: Key abbreviations

There are a few common abbreviations that you are going to come across during your academic writing project. Here is a short list:

Abbreviationstands forExplanation
DOIDigital Object IdentifierThis number refers to literary work (usually academic work) on the Internet.
ed.EditionIndicate which edition of a book you used as a reference. (example: 4th ed.)
Ed. or Eds.Editor(s)Mark the editors of a book with Ed./Eds. In parenthesis after their name(s).
et al.„and others“ (lat: et alii)If there are more than two authors, you only mention the first author and add „et al.” for in-text citations.
Ibid.„the same place“ (lat: ibidem)If you use the same source repeatedly, you can use (ibid.) after the first mention. numberIf you refer to one particular page in your source material (e.g. for a quotation), add the page number.
pp.on these pagesIf a quotation refers to several pages in your source text, then you indicate this by adding pp and then the numbers.
s.a. or n.d.sine anno / no dateIf you don’t have the publication date, indicate this by adding s.a. or n.d.
s.l.sine locoIf you don’t know where a book was published, use the abbreviation s.l.
[sic]„so it was written“ (lat. sic erat scriptum)If there are spelling mistakes, formatting mistakes or other mistakes in your quotation, then you can indicate this to your readers by adding [sic], which means it was written like this in the original.

Avoiding plagiarism: What to keep in mind?

Plagiarism refers to the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own. If you use quotations or citations in your own work without quoting those correctly, you steal somebody else’s intellectual property. This can result in a series of consequences: minus points, a worse grade, an “F” on your work or the retraction of your academic title.

How can you avoid plagiarism?

  • Whenever you use ideas from somebody else’s work by paraphrasing, summarising or using it otherwise, you need to indicate this as a citation.
  • Use quotations (including an in-text reference) for telling text passages that you quote word-for-word.
  • Add all your sources to your list of references!
  • Before you hand in your work, use a software to check for plagiarism. This programme checks for text passages from other works that you didn’t cite correctly.

How to quote: STUWO bonus tips

There are many free citation management programmes that do all the citation work for you. You only have to put the book or bibliographical information into the programme and then it produces the perfect short in-text citations and full-length reference list entries in your preferred citation style.

It’s best to use the tool “Create reference list” in word and other text programmes. This way your reference list is uniform.

Many university libraries and online publishers have the tool “Cite as”, where you can choose your citation style and then they create the appropriate reference for the chosen book.

And our last tip: Cite as you write! As soon as you have written a quotation or citation, add the correct in-text citation and the according full-length reference at the end. It will take forever and be flawed if you only add all the citations after having written the paper.

Hopefully, you can tackle your academic or seminar paper confidently with this guide. We recommend the pomodoro technique for a perfect time management, so that you finish paper in time. Enjoy writing!


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