What is a References Page? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is a References Page?
  • 0:58 In-Text Citations
  • 1:22 Creating the References Page
  • 2:55 Tips and Tricks
  • 3:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Mary Firestone
Expert Contributor
Jenna Clayton

Jenna received her BA in English from Iowa State University in 2015, and she has taught at the secondary level for three years.

In this lesson you'll learn what a References page is, and how to create one. You'll also find out how a References page is formatted and learn some tips that will ease the process.

What Is a References Page?

A references page is the last page of an essay or research paper that's been written in APA style. It lists all the sources you've used in your project, so readers can easily find what you've cited.

The American Psychological Association (APA) created the APA style, which is a standardized method of formatting documents and citing sources. The references page format is unique to the APA style. Other formatting styles have different names and ways of listing sources on the last page of a document. For example, the Modern Language Association (MLA) calls it a 'Works Cited', and the Turabian style calls it a 'Bibliography.'

Students complain about having to use these formats, but imagine if you were asked to not only write the paper, but also come up with your own format and documentation styles! The APA style actually simplifies things for all of us.

In-Text Citations

When you use an outside source to support or expand your ideas, it's necessary to give credit with an in-text citation. Each source you use in your paper must also appear in your references page. A source is a book, periodical, website, peer-reviewed journal article, or other media that you've used for support. They are also referred to as citations or references.

Creating the References Page

Throughout an APA style document, and this includes the references page, a uniform font is required (12 point Arial or Times Roman), 1-inch margins (all around), and double spacing. The references page also must include hanging indents.

After you've written your paper and made note of every source you've cited, you're ready to create your references page. Here are your next steps:

  • Start a new page, and center the title References at the top. Do not use all capital letters, bold or underlining.
  • Enter your sources in alphabetical order, beginning with the last name first. Continue entering your sources, double spacing throughout the whole references page.
  • Use hanging indents if the source's name, title, publisher, etc., go longer than one line (most do). A hanging indent is when all lines after the first are indented five spaces, a required element of APA style.

If your source doesn't provide an author's name, go by the title of the work or the website title. The sources of graphs, charts and diagrams you've borrowed must also be included in your references page. People you interview and then quote in your paper should not be documented in the references page.

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Additional Activities

What is a References Page? - Writing Activity

Short-Answer Essay Questions:

For this activity, you will answer short-answer essay questions about APA style and references pages. Since these questions are short-answer, your responses should be focused and fairly concise. For example, it would be ideal to write two to three well-developed paragraphs per question.


  1. What are in-text citations, and how are these citations connected to the information on the references page? Explain.
  2. Explain the process of creating a references page.
  3. Pretend that you are explaining how to create a references page to a friend who has never created one before. What advice or tips would you share with your friend?

A possible response to Question 1:

In-text citations are used throughout a research paper to give credit to a source's information. These are short citations that quickly explain where the information came from. These in-text citations will also match with the full citation on the references page.

Keep in mind that every source mentioned in an in-text citation also needs to appear on the references page. If you looked at a source in your early research but didn't use any of the information in your paper or article, it is unnecessary to cite this source on your references page. Finally, make sure that all of your in-text citations and references are formatted correctly, and mentally note that there are slight differences between the popular citation styles.

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