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I'm currently writing my thesis and one chapter is about a software product. The chapter contains three paragraphs with general information about the product that I collected from the product documentation. It's my own text (sort of like a summary), but all the facts come straight from the documentation. In my thesis I'm using APA style citations.

How do I cite this product documentation? Do I have to use in-line citation or is it sufficient to just add it to the reference list?

If I have to use in-line citation, how often and where do I cite the product documentation? I found some information where they'd cite in the first sentence and then in the second sentence they would say something like "The authors .. etc.," but I'm not sure if that would work in this case, because it's just general information I used to write my own text. Also I don't know if I'd have to use it in every paragraph, or just the first one.

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Could you elaborate on what you mean when you mention "it's just general information"? How general is the information? –  Pravesh Parekh Mar 24 at 10:23

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Like you mentioned, introducing the source in the first line is usually what is done in case of citing the same source multiple times in the same paragraph.

You could state the first line as something similar to

The product documentation (inline citation) states that blah blah blah

Now you can continue writing the rest of the lines in your paragraph. Keep referring back to the user manual. For example,

The manual mentions

Based on the recommendations in the manual it is apparent that

blah blah, as defined in the user manual

and so on.

When changing the paragraph you can continue writing in a style that keeps hinting that you are talking about the same source. As long as you have not introduced any other references in between, you should be good to go.

Depending on the information that you have from the user manual, your inline citation would change. For example, if by any chance you have the name(s) of the authors, you will be using that in the citation. Else, as mentioned in the answer here you can simply refer to the user manual with a n.d. mention. Or you may choose to attribute the authorship to the Organization (depending on how the user manual is written).

To address the last part of your question, if the information that you have is too general and obvious (like common sense), you may not need to cite it to any source. However, if the information is borrowed from a source (which I think is your case), you will have to mention the source. Do it once in the beginning and then keep writing. In the references, mention the complete reference. Have a look at the second last answer here (citing Apple's user manual).

Hope this helps!

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