How to Reference PDF Files

Written by kenneth w. michael wills
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The PDF file is the most common format for many types of reports, research and whitepapers found on the Web. You can transfer a PDF file with ease across operating systems and computer environments, while including large amounts of data and robust security features to protect your data. In conducting research on the Web, you will come across PDF files you will need to reference. One example is the research guide "Communicating research for evidence-based policy making," published by the European Commission. The most utilised citation style for social science and humanities is the APA style.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Write the name of the author of the PDF file, followed by a period. In this case you would write: European Commission.

  2. 2

    Cite the year of publication in parentheses, such as (2010).

  3. 3

    Write the name of the report followed by a colon, followed by any subtitle, in italics. For example: Communicating research for evidence-based policymaking: A practical guide for researchers in socioeconomic sciences and humanities (in italics).

    Make sure you capitalise the first letter in the title and the first letter in the subtitle.

  4. 4

    Cite the publication number in parentheses after the title. For example, (978-92-79-14858-3), the ISBN number of the report in question.

  5. 5

    Write the place of publication for the PD, with a colon followed by any individual authors. For example, Brussels, Belgium: Louisa Anastopoulou.

  6. 6

Tips and warnings

  • Other forms or reference styles include MLA and Turbian. You should always check and verify the type of citation style required for your paper.

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