APA Referencing—The Finer Points of Page Numbering

Providing a page number is an essential aspect of correct referencing, regardless of in which style one is working. In the APA referencing style, confusion arises particularly in relation to when a page number is needed and what to do if a source does not have page numbers.

If you prefer to learn by watching videos, Dr Lines explains this point of APA referencing in one of Capstone Editing’s YouTube videos.

When to Provide a Page Reference

Most authors using APA know that they must provide a page reference when quoting directly. For example:

As one study noted, ‘the importance of women’s participation … can be seen from the military significance of their contribution’ (Lines, 2012, p. 52).

However, APA also recommends that you provide a specific page reference for ideas you have paraphrased or summarised from another work. This could be a page number (e.g., p. 1), a page range (e.g., pp. 1–2) or non-consecutive page numbers (e.g., pp. 3, 5, 6–9). For example:

Gender issues were given low priority in the agendas of left-wing political organisations in 1930s Spain (Lines, 2012, pp. 29–32).

If you are citing a work in its entirety, rather than just an idea within it, page numbers are NOT required—just mention the author(s) and the publication year. For example:

A study by Lines (2016) investigated the effectiveness of traditional plagiarism detection methods for identifying ghostwritten essays.

When to Provide Location Information

If necessary to help your reader find the cited information more easily, you can also provide location information, such as the chapter (Chapter), section (§), paragraph (para.), footnote (footnote), table (Table) or figure (Figure) number. For example:

… (Lines, 2015, footnote 12).

Providing location information is essential if a work does not have page numbers (e.g., some ebooks or blogs). In this case, you should refer to a paragraph number (para.) or numbers (paras.) if available. For example, if you are citing information taken from a blog post by Lisa Lines in 2016:

Lines (2016) observed that ‘academic and university standards are not simply at risk, but under direct assault’ (para. 9) and proposed a range of solutions aimed at addressing the problem (paras. 10–12).

You can also refer to a specific section heading (or abbreviated heading in quotation marks if it is long) and a paragraph number within that section. For example:

Despite being custom written, ‘ghostwriting essays do leave indicators that can be detected by academics’ (Lines, 2016, ‘Study findings’, para. 3).

I look forward to sharing more of the finer points of APA referencing with you in my next article, ‘The Finer Points of In-text Referencing‘.

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