APA Terminology

These definitions will help you better integrate sources into your paper.


Abbreviation Book or publication part
ed. edition
Rev. ed. Revised edition
2nd ed. second edition
Ed. (Eds.) Editor (Editors)
Trans. Translator(s)
n.d. no date
p. (pp.) page (pages)
Vol. (Vols.) Volume (Volumes
No. Number
Pt. Part
Tech. Rep. Technical Report
Suppl. Supplement


Types of Sources

Journal: A journal is a periodical written for a highly specialized audience. Typically the readers of journal articles are researchers, educators, or practitioners in a particular discipline. For example, educators use journals such as Education Next and Current Issues in Education. Psychologists and counselors read the journals entitled Journal of School Psychology and the American Journal of Psychology.

Document journal articles differently than other publications like magazines. A magazine is written so that anyone can understand it. Example magazine titles include Parent MagazineU.S. News and World Report, and Psychology Today. You can find magazines on newsstands in grocery stores, whereas you would only find journals in libraries or by subscribing to them.

There are several clues to look for when determining whether or not an article is from a magazine or a journal:

  • The title of the publication may have the word “journal” in it.
  • Journals are text-heavy and rarely include images or advertisements. Magazines tend to be glossy and image-laden.
  • If the text of the article uses a lot of words that only a specialist would know, chances are it is from a journal.
  • Search the title of the publication in a search engine such as Google. Most magazines and journals have Web sites, and they will tell you what kind of publication it is.


Periodical: “Periodical” is a generic term that refers to publications that are published periodically such as newspapers, magazines, and journals. Each periodical type uses a different APA style model. So you should follow the model for newspaper articles when documenting a newspaper. Follow the model for a magazine article when documenting a magazine article, and so on.

Using Sources in Your paper

Quotation: When you directly copy a phrase, sentence or group of sentences from another author’s work, you are quoting. Surround the material with quotation marks to show that authors words appear in your work exactly as they wrote them.

Paraphrase:  Writers should not pack their essays with quotations. Doing so can raise questions about whether or not the writer was just lazy and did not want to do the hard work of integrating source material into the project or perhaps that the writer did not really understand the original material and resorted to over-quoting to cover for that lack of understanding.

Rather than quoting source material every time you want to use another’s ideas, reserve quotations for those authors and snippets of texts that articulate an idea in such a special or unique way that you want to preserve those words exactly as they are. Otherwise, paraphrase.

Paraphrasing: refers to the process of putting an author’s words entirely into your own voice and style and integrating those ideas into your work with a lead-in phrase and parenthetical note (both explained below).

When paraphrasing, be sure to completely rework the original words into your own style, your own linguistic thumbprint, if you will, to avoid accusations of plagiarism.


The original words written by Joanna Castner Post in a hypothetical article published in 2009 on page 3: I earned a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric because I have a streak that admires the very practical.

Quoting from the original above would look like this: Post (2009) writes, “I earned a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric because I have a streak that admires the very practical” (p. 3).

Paraphrasing from the original above would look like this: Post (2009) explains that a main motivation for pursuing a doctorate in technical communication and rhetoric was an inclination towards the practical.

Lead-in Phrase: The lead-in phrase is the language that indicates where the source material begins. It can take the form of “According to Post…” or “The researcher goes on to state.” Whether you are quoting or paraphrasing, these pieces, called lead-in phrases, are essential. The lead-in phrase is an important element to include when integrating sources into your own writing. Often, it is when lead-in phrases are left out that students sometimes get accused of plagiarism because it is not clear where a paraphrase has begun. For example, let’s say that you inserted a quote into an essay and then spent two paragraphs and part of a third explaining the quote in terms of your main argument and showing why it supports that point of view. Next, you insert a paraphrase. If you don’t include a lead-in phrase, how will the reader know where the paraphrase begins?

This kind of confusion opens you up to accusations of plagiarism. It is important to clarify source usage as carefully as possible to protect yourself.

***The point is to clarify, at every point, when you are integrating someone else’s words into your own versus when you are writing your own words.

Other Notes

Gender Bias: APA guidelines are fairly specific about avoiding bias of any kind, but especially gender bias. Therefore, lead-in phrases should only contain the author’s last name or a gender-neutral term in the place of the pronouns “he” or “she.” APA suggests using phrases like “he or she,” “she or he,” “he/she,” she/he” sparingly. It is better to use the plural form of nouns referring to people so that “they” and its forms can be used instead.