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What is a Citation & What is Citation Style?

A citation is a way of identifying and giving credits to others' published works that you used to support your own research. Citations can also be used to locate sources of works, as well as avoid plagiarism.

A citation consists of two parts: in-text citation and reference list. In-text citations are brief references of sources within the text of the paper, while reference list is a complete list of references at the end of the paper.

A citation style defines the necessary information for a citation, how the information is ordered, and what format citations should follow. 

Generally, the citation style you use depends on your research area. Check with your instructor or supervisor if you are not sure which style you should use for your assignment. Some commonly used styles for different faculties are listed in the table below.

APA style for School of Design

Note: Always check with your instructor/supervisor on citation style and if variations of style is required.

APA style follows an author-year format in referencing. A citation contains two parts: 

1. In-text citation

  • Format: generally, author surname and publication year enclosed in parentheses
Chan (2016) studied that...
Chan (2016, p. 15) claimed that "..."
Couple of studies reported similar results (Chan, 2016; Smith & Booth, 2018; Gorman, Reese, & Smith, 2019)
... as stated in its annual report (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2017)


2. References

  • Format: different type of sources uses different format of reference entry. See examples below. 
  • Order: all references are sorted by the author surname in alphabetical order.
1) Print Book:
Honour, H., & Fleming, J. (2009). A world history of art (7th ed.). London: Laurence King Pub. 
2) Journal article:
Cooper, R. (2017). Design Research: Past, Present and Future. The Design Journal20(1), 5-11.
3) Image from WGSN:
WGSN. (2019). Dyson's Pure Hot + Cool air purifier [Digital Image]. Retrieved from WGSN database.
4) Report:
Housley, S. (2019, April 1). Pollution Protectors. WGSN. Retrieved from WGSN database.
4) Market Research Report from Passport:
Euromonitor International. (2017, March). Apparel and footwear in China. Retrieved from Passport database.
6) News Article from Factiva:
Osawa, J., & Schechner, S. (2016, May 6). Huawei aims high with new phone. The Wall Street Journal. p. B1. Retrieved from Factiva database.
7) YouTube video:
HongKongPolyU. (2011, November 17). PolyU milestones [Video file]. Retrieved from


To cite sources not listed here, check out a detailed citation guide compiled by the PolyU's English Language Centre.